The city of love has inspired a lot of classic tracks
Paris has long been an inspiration in poetry, literature and art. Music is no different with a wealth of bands and artists being spurred on to create songs about loving, leaving or longing for one of the world’s most stylish, charming and passionate cities. Soundtrack your travels to the French capital, be they in your head or in reality, with some of the best songs about Paris.
Phoenix – ‘1901’
This buoyant indie-pop hit is, according to frontman Thomas Mars, a fantasy about Paris in what he deems the good old days – La Belle Époque, which was a period of peace and prosperity in France between 1871 and 1914.
Joni Mitchell – ‘Free Man In Paris’
The Canadian singer-songwriter penned this song in the French city for her record label boss, David Geffen. It describes a man longing to leave showbiz behind for something simpler and more relaxed.
Jonathan Richman – ‘Give Paris One More Chance’
“Because if you don’t think Paris was made for love/Maybe your heart needs a telegram from up above” sings the Modern Lovers frontman in the ultimate convincer to jump on the Eurostar and head for the French capital.
Kanye West & Jay Z – ‘Paris’
“If you escaped what I escaped/You’d be in Paris getting fucked up too” raps Jay Z on this attitude-laden track, which references Paris traditionally being a place where African-Americans (including the likes of Nina Simone and Saul Williams) travelled to to pursue their lives and careers away from the racism they suffered in their home country.
Morrissey – ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’
Moz finds comfort in the city of love after feeling rejected by the rest of the world. At least, he reasons, “stone and steel accept my love“.
Serge Gainsbourg – ‘Maxim’s’
This track by the iconic French musician is named after the fashionable Art Nouveau-decorated restaurant Maxim’s and features lyrics about English cigarettes and Pimms.
Friendly Fires – ‘Paris’
Soundtrack your attempts to save up for a trip to Paris with this dreamy noughties classic.
The 1975 – ‘Paris’
‘Paris’ is less about the city it’s named after and more about London, but uses the French capital as a symbol of luxury, decadence and escape in its simple chorus.
Lana Del Rey – ‘Paris’
“Let’s go to Paris/Take me there and never look back” commands Lana, urging her lover to run away with her.
Regina Spektor – ‘Paris’
The New York musician recalls being persuaded to leave Paris by a partner on this a capella unreleased demo.
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Lykke Li – ‘Paris Blue’
“I’m Paris Blue, I miss you/I’m not good enough for you, Paris Blue” sighs Lykke Li on this downcast b-side to ‘Get Some’. It’s elegantly miserable in a way that would be totally fitting of strolling Parisian streets in the rain.
St Vincent – ‘Paris Is Burning’
Annie Clark takes on the role of an American soldier in Paris after the end of WWII. “We are dancing a black waltz, fair Paris is burning after all,” she sings of the aftermath in the city.
Marianne Faithfull – ‘Paris Bells’
Taken from her 1965 self-titled album, ‘Paris Bells’ wanders through the city streets taking in barges on the Seine, cafes with their shutters down and chapels.
Elliott Smith – ‘Place Pigalle’
The late singer-songwriter wrote this heartbreaking track after a stay in Paris in 1999, detailing a brief fling in what’s considered the most romantic city in the world that ended all too soon.
John Cale – ‘Paris 1919’
‘Paris 1919’ is probably the former member of the Velvet Underground’s best known solo song. It has been theorised that the track is about the Treaty Of Versailles and its role in the rise of Hitler.
Grace Jones – ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’
“Dance in bars and restaurants/Home with anyone who wants” sings Jones of Parisian nightlife before giving things a darker twist: “Strange he’s standing there alone/Staring eyes chill me to the bone“.
Eartha Kitt – ‘Under The Bridges Of Paris’
“Oh what I’d give for a moment or two/Under the bridges of Paris with you” begins this swooning love song by the classic American singer. If anything sums up the romantic mood of the city, it’s this.