French Language Blog

A Christmas Carol En Version Française Posted by on Dec 21, 2016 in Culture

There are many famous stories about la période des fêtes (the holiday season). My personal favorite is Un chant de Noël (A Christmas Carol) by Charles Dickens. Although originally in English, Un chant de Noël can help your French!

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, Title page, First edition 1843. Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, Title page, First edition 1843. Wikimedia Commons.

I have written about how it can be useful to watch your favorite TV shows and movies either with les sous-titres français or doublées en français (dubbed in French). While it’s preferable to watch a movie or a TV show en VOST, being familiar with the characters and the story in your first language can help you stay engaged in another language.

The same idea works with les livres (books)! If you have a favorite book in English, you can usually find it en version française.

Dans l’esprit de Noël (in the Christmas spirit), one such example is Un chant de Noël, a story that has been retold many times and in many different styles. My first memory of the story is la version de Disney (the Disney version) where Balthazar Picsou (Scrooge McDuck) plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge and Dingo (Goofy) is le fantôme de Jacob Marley (the ghost of Jacob Marley).

The novella is most commonly known as Un chant de Noël in French, but it was also published under the names of Cantique de Noël, Chanson de Noël, and Conte de Noël. No matter the version It’s easy to recognize le thème général (the overarching theme):

Scrooge déteste Noël
« Foutaises ! »
Bob Cratchit, le pauvre employée de Scrooge
Le fantôme de Marley visite Scrooge et lui dit qu’il va être hanté par trois esprits
L’esprit des Noëls passés
L’esprit du Noéls présent
L’esprit des Noëls à venir
Scrooge se reveille, il aime Noël et il veut changer sa vie

Scrooge hates Christmas
“Bah! Humbug!”
Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s poor employee
The ghost of Marley visits Scrooge and tells him that he will be haunted by three spirits
The Ghost of Christmas Past
The Ghost of Christmas Present
The Ghost of Christmas Future
Scrooge wakes up, he loves Christmas, and he wants to change his life

If you’re looking to practice your French during the holidays, try reading le grand classique (the great classic) in French! You can even télécharger (download) a free version from Project Gutenberg: Cantique de Noël by Charles Dickens.

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Tom Reidy (canadatom):

    Will enjoy reading it.
    Should “Pauve” not read “Pauvre”

    • John Bauer:

      @Tom Reidy (canadatom) Merci pour votre commentaire Tom ! En effet, oui, c’était une faute de frappe et je l’ai corrigé. 😀 Thanks for pointing it out!