French folklore

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French folklore encompasses the fables, folklore and fairy tales and legends of the Gauls, Franks, Normans, Bretons, Occitans, and other peoples living in France.

Folklore from the Middle Ages[edit]

Occitan literature - were songs, poetry and literature in Occitan in what is nowadays the South of France that originated in the poetry of the 11th and 12th centuries, and inspired vernacular literature throughout medieval Europe. These early recorded songs, poetry and their highest development in the 12th century and includes the well known Songs of the Troubadours:

Songs of the Troubadours[edit]

  • Songs of the Troubadour - The songs, poetry and narratives of the troubadours, who were composers and performers during the High Middle Ages, flourished during the 11th century and spread throughout Europe from Southern France. Their songs dealt mainly with themes of chivalry and courtly love. Several established categories of poetry and song were:
    • Canso or canson were songs concerning courtly love.
    • Sirventes songs covered war, politics, morality, satire, humor, and topics outside of love.
    • Tenso and Partiment is a dialog or debate between poets
    • Planh is a lament on a death.
    • Pastorela is a song trying to win the affections and love of a shepherdess.
    • Alba is complaint of lovers upon parting.

Songs of the Trouvère[edit]

Songs of the Trouvère are songs and poetry that stemmed from poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France.

Epic Narratives[edit]

A second form of legend in France during the Middle Ages was epic poetry, partly historical and partly legend with themes covering the formation of France, war, kingship, and important battles. This genre was known as chansons de geste which is Old French for "songs of heroic deeds." It is also called the epics of the "Matter of France":

Matter of France[edit]

Animal fables, mock epics[edit]

Another folkloric medium in the Middle Ages were fables, mock epics and animal folk tales, notably:

Satirical tales by Rabelais[edit]

François Rabelais, 1494–1553, wrote:

Fairy tales[edit]

French fairy tales are particularly known by their literary rather than their folk, oral variants. Perrault derived almost all his tales from folk sources, but rewrote them for the upper-class audience, removing rustic elements. The précieuses rewrote them even more extensively for their own interests.[1] Collection of folk tales as such only began about 1860, but was fruitful for the next decades.[2]

Fairy tales by Perrault[edit]

Charles Perrault (1628–1703) collected tales:

Fairy tales by d'Aulnoy[edit]

Marie Catherine d'Aulnoy, 1650/1–1705, collected tales:

Fairy tales by Souvestre[edit]

Émile Souvestre (1806–1854) collected tales:

Other Fairy Tales[edit]

Legends of People[edit]

Legendary Creatures[edit]

Other Folklore[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Delarue, The Borzoi Book of French Folk-Tales, p ix-xi, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York 1956
  2. ^ Paul Delarue, The Borzoi Book of French Folk-Tales, p xi-xii, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York 1956