French Language Blog

French Folklore: “Cortège de noce” (“Wedding Procession”) Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

Imagine for a moment the swirling cauldron of emotions lying within the soul of a potential “runaway bride”, one living in the times of medieval France, who is suddenly forced to leave everything behind, family and friends, walking in a long “cortège de noce” (“wedding procession”), which ultimately leads her to settle with a husband she neither chose nor loved, into her new “Cage dorée” (“golden cage”)…

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The French “Folk” adventure of Malicorne saw the light some 40 years ago, when Gabriel Yacoub, guitarist and singer of the group of Alan Stivell (the “revivalist-in-chief” of la musique celtique) decided to forge son propre chemin (his own path.)

Together with his wife Marie, and joined by other musicians of outstanding talent, he went on to discover the hidden treasures of ancient popular dances and songs throughout the whole country of France, not confining himself to la Bretagne.

Thus started l’aventure of Malicorne, which drew on the old folk musical heritage of the vast régions de France: from la Normandiele Limousin, to la Bourgogne (Burgundy), and la Franche-Comté

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Non-official teaser of Malicorne’s “Live à La Rochelle“, performed in last year’s “Francofolies” festival, offers “un avant-goût“(“a foretaste”) of their own musical style

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Through a “complainte“style(known as “lament” in English) that stands in stark contrast with the epic aspect of “la chanson de geste“, the talentuous falk interpretation of Malicorne turns what is normally a happy “cortège de noce” (“wedding procession”) into a quasi-marche funèbre (funeral march), or at least what appears to be so, in the tearful eyes of a newly-married bride living in medieval France, who is suddenly forced to leave everything behind, in order to settle into her new “Cage dorée” (“golden cage”)…

* * *


La mariée avance en tête

The bride walks ahead

Baissant les yeux, levant la tête

Looking down, raising her head

Le menestrier s’en va devant

The minstrel walks away forward

Adieu la joie et le bon temps

Bid farewell to happiness and good times

Aux filles du roi elle ressemble

To the daughters of the king she looks like

Elle a couronne sur sa tête…

She has a crown on her head…

Ne l’aura qu’une heure tant seulement

Won’t have but for an hour

Adieu la joie et le bon temps

Bid farewell to happiness and good times

Tout en passant sous cette porte

While going through this door

Elle reçoit un beau pain d’orge

She receives a beautiful barley bread

Mais à votre époux présentez-en!

But to your husband are you to offer it!

Adieu la joie et le bon temps

Bid farewell to happiness and good times

En traversant cette prairie

Going through this meadow

Elle voit danser des jeunes filles

She sees young girls dancing

Ah si j’étais fille à marier

Ah, if I remained an eligible bride

J’aurais encore coeur à chanter

I’d still feel like singing

Belle épousée, on vous demande

Beautiful spouse, you are asked

D’être bien sage, obéissante

To be well-behaved, obedient

Et dans la maison où vous allez

And in the house where you are going

Tâchez de bien nous contenter

Make sure you make us happy

Adieu cousins adieu cousines

Goodbye cousins

Adieu voisins adieu voisines

Goodbye neighbors

Adieu à tous les gens de chez nous

Goodbye to you, our people

Adieu les plus beaux de les jours

Goodbye to the most beautiful of the days



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  1. Charles Laster:

    Admirable combo of French lingo and Celtic style.