Dans les prisons de Nantes

'Dans les prisons de Nantes'. One of the best-known French songs to have survived in Canada. It originated in France, probably in the 17th century.

'Dans les prisons de Nantes'

'Dans les prisons de Nantes'. One of the best-known French songs to have survived in Canada. It originated in France, probably in the 17th century. 'Dans les prisons de Nantes' (or 'de Londres,' as often heard) is known also as 'La Fille du geôlier,' and is popular especially in Quebec and the Maritimes. The words most commonly used were published in Le Foyer canadien (vol 1, Quebec City 1863). They tell of a prisoner who is in love with the jailer's daughter, is freed by her, and thereupon proposes marriage. A version distinguished by the use of the augmented fourth appeared in Raoul and Marguerite d'Harcourt's Chansons folkloriques francaises au Canada (Quebec City 1956). Marius Barbeau, in Le Rossignol y chante (Ottawa 1962), offers a textual variant in which the young girl dies and the prisoner is pardoned. At least 17 versions of this song were collected 1916-26. The Sonatae (1927, for cello and piano) by Oscar O'Brien is based on the melody. Among Canadian recordings of the song are 78s by Joseph Saucier and Charles Marchand and LPs by Hélène Baillargeon and Alan Mills (Folk FP-923) and Louise Forestier (Gamma GS-167).


Further Reading

  • Gagnon, Ernest. Chansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865)

    Barbeau, Marius, and Sapir, Edward. Folk Songs of French Canada (New Haven, Conn 1925)