Do you love love?
Here’s a selection of some of the best French love quotes to help you share your feelings with a loved one, build your vocabulary, add something special to a romantic evening, or even find the perfect quotation-inspired tattoo!
La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel – Victor Hugo
Translation: Life is a flower, of which love is the honey.
Although this is a beautiful love quote unto itself, the lines that follow it are also pretty great:
La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel.
C’est la colombe unie à l’aigle dans le ciel,
C’est la grâce tremblante à la force appuyée,
C’est ta main dans ma main doucement oubliée.
Life is a flower, of which love is the honey.
It’s the dove and the eagle united in the sky.
It’s grace trembling at insistent force,
It’s your hand sweetly forgotten in mine.
These come from Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse, a romantic play in verse that was published in 1832. You can read the entire play here.
Il n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé – George Sand
Translation: There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
At a time when women writers weren’t respected in France, Amantine Lucile Dupin chose to use “George Sand” as her pen name.
She was a major figure of the Romantic movement and a bestselling author of her time.
True to her free-spirited nature, she had love affairs with many of her contemporaries, including Alfred de Musset, who also has a quotation on this list.
Vivre sans aimer n’est pas proprement vivre – Molière
Translation: To live without loving is to not really live.
Molière is the alias of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, who left his respectable bourgeois life to pursue his dream of acting and writing plays.
He found adventure, love and success, and a centuries-long reputation as France’s greatest playwright!
Entre deux cœurs qui s’aiment, nul besoin de paroles – Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Translation: Two hearts in love need no words.
Desbordes-Valmore is one of the first Romantic poets.
Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction -Antoine de St-Exupéry
Translation: Love doesn’t mean gazing at each other, but looking, together, in the same direction.
Wise beyond his years, St-Exupéry sadly died at only 44 years old, when his plane was shot down by the Germans during a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Force.
Le seul vrai langage au monde est un baiser – Alfred de Musset
Translation: The only true language in the world is a kiss.
Alfred de Musset was a precocious talent, a dandy, and one of the founders of Romanticism in France.
L’amour est la poésie des sens -Honoré de Balzac
Translation: Love is the poetry of the senses.
For 15 years, Balzac exchanged letters with the love of his life, Ewelina Hańska, a Polish noblewoman.
They were finally able to marry, but Balzac died only five months later.
They’re buried together in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour – Albert Camus
Translation: That is love, to give away everything, to sacrifice everything, without the slightest hope of anything in return.)
Camus is one of the youngest people to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
L’amour fait les plus grandes douceurs et les plus sensibles infortunes de la vie – Madeleine de Scudéry
Translation: Love makes life’s sweetest pleasures and worst misfortunes.
De Scudéry was a highly educated woman who ran her own salon (meetings in her home where intellectuals, artists, writers, and other interesting people met and had discussions) in 17th century Paris.
She met fascinating figures of her time but remained free and never married.
Quand il me prend dans ses bras,/Il me parle tout bas,/Je vois la vie en rose – Edith Piaf
Translation: When he takes me in his arms/ and speaks to me softly,/ I see the world through rose-colored glasses.
One of the greatest singers of all time, Piaf grew up in extreme poverty and, before becoming famous, sang on the streets of Paris.
L’amour est l’emblème de l’éternité, il confond toute la notion de temps, efface toute la mémoire d’un commencement, toute la crainte d’une extrémité – Madame de Staël
Translation: Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time, erases all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.
The charming, often boldly-dressed Madame de Staël (real name: Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein) was a major social and intellectual figure during the French Revolution and First Empire (and was considered one of Napoleon’s non-military nemeses!).
J’ai aimé jusqu’à atteindre la folie. Ce que certains appellent la folie, mais ce qui pour moi, est la seule façon d’aimer – Françoise Sagan
Translation: I have loved to the point of madness. That which some call madness, but which to me, is the only way to love.
Sagan published her first book, the famous novel Bonjour Tristesse, when she was only 18 years old.
Je vous souhaite d’être follement aimée – André Breton
Translation: I wish for you to be loved madly.
Note that if you want to use this quotation for a male subject, you must change aimée to aimé.
Breton is one of the founders of Surrealism , and this quotation comes from his famous Surrealist novel L’amour fou (Mad Love).
Rien n’est petit dans l’amour. Ceux qui attendent les grandes occasions pour prouver leur tendresse ne savent pas aimer – Laure Conan
Translation: Nothing in love is small. Those who wait for grand occasions to prove their love don’t know how to love.
Conan was the first Canadian-born female francophone writer to achieve international fame.
Mais ce qu’a lié l’amour même, le temps ne peut le délier – Germain Nouveau
Translation: But what love has bound together, time cannot unbind.
A friend of the great poets Verlaine and Rimbaud, Nouveau’s own work wasn’t really discovered until after his death.
Some common French expressions about love
Believe it or not, while the French have a reputation for romance, these quotes aren’t spouting from every French person’s lips every day – they’d be used for a special message to a loved one or even as a romantic inspiration to oneself.
On the other hand, here are some common expressions about love that most French people do use.
L’amour rend aveugle – Love is blind.
If we have the same expression in English, it’s because some version of this idea has been around since antiquity. But, as in English, this expression is omnipresent in French.
On ne badine pas avec l’amour – Don’t trifle with love/Love is serious business.
This expression comes from the eponymous 1834 play by Alfred de Musset and became a common saying in French.
You can read the play for free here, if you’re interested.
Vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche – to live on love alone (literally: to live on love and cool water.
This can be a good or bad thing, depending on how the speaker feels.
Un peu, beaucoup, à la folie – He/She loves me, he/she loves me not
Whereas in English, this game involves plucking petals of a flower and alternating “He/She loves me” and “He/She loves me not” with each one, the French version actually contains a lot more options; the phrase is a shorter version of Il/Elle m’aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout (He/She loves me a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all.).
One of my favorite French romcoms has a title that’s a play on words of this famous phrase and the first one on this list: Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglement (A little, a lot, blindly).
Are the French romantic?
You may have noticed a bit of a difference between the French love quotes on our list, and the majority of these much more common sayings and thoughts.
To me, they show the nitty-gritty of love, the everyday struggles that often arise when you’re in a relationship or even dealing with unrequited love, or heartbreak.
This is totally in keeping with the French mentality. There are always exceptions, of course, but in general, as I’ve shared in other articles, the French attitude towards love is discretion, not bold declarations.
This is because the French generally tend to consider extremely emotional or ostentatious displays of sentiment totally false (although they do appreciate them in movies and other works of fiction).
If a French person is in love with you, they’re probably not going to make a prom-posal or have compliments to you set out in skywriting.
But they will make small romantic gestures. It’s a quiet, somewhat sensible kind of love.
That doesn’t make these quotes ring false. If anything, to me, they show the power of love. No matter how discreet or against big displays of emotion you might be, you can’t fight the epic way(s) love makes you feel in your heart.
Typical French declarations of love
If you don’t think one of these quotes feels right, another source for ways to express your romantic feelings is to look at websites that give French people ideas for things like romantic cards, marriage proposals, and flirty text messages.
The ones on this site are a fascinating mix of plainspoken and something right out of un roman à l’eau de rose (a cheesy romance novel).
For example: Tes baisers sont comme des incendies que tu allumes au creux de moi. (Your kisses are like fires that illuminate the hollow places inside of me.)
Or, for something a bit less chaud (hot), C’est à tes côtés que je veux construire ma vie, que nous avancions main dans la main. (I’d like to build my life with you by my side, to move forward hand-in-hand.)
None of these are citations from literature or history, but they do show a more contemporary, less formal way of expressing oneself.
Which option to choose for your own déclaration d’amour? It’s up to you!
And of course, if you want to keep it more literary, you can also find inspiration in novels, short stories, and poetry, not to mention song lyrics.
Here, for example, is a list of the French’s 100 favorite love songs. And you can find an impressive online collection of French love poems here.
What I like about this link in particular is that it includes poems from many different eras, not just the 19th century (the era when many of the best-known French poets wrote).
French love quotes for tattoos
There is another way to declare your love, for a loved one or yourself: a tattoo.
If the quotes at the start of this article didn’t quite inspire you, here are a few other suggestions for a French love quotation tattoo, from this article:
- L’amour ne meurt jamais (Love never dies)
- L’amour est mon arme (Love is my weapon)
- Pour être aimé, aime (If you want to be loved, love.)
Note that if you want the “loved” to agree with a female subject, you have to add an extra “e” to aimé, like so: Pour être aimée, aime.
- Je t’aime, c’est mon corps qui te l’écrit (I love you, it’s my body that’s writing this to you).
This is a play on a somewhat famous anonymous quotation, Je t’aime, c’est ma plume qui te l’écrit (I love you, it’s my pen which writes it).
You can find more French love quotes for tattoos by doing a search for “citations d’amour pour tatouage”.
If you are in a romantic mood, check out how to say I love you in French.
And if you’d like to learn more French vocabulary related to love, check out 8 French Idioms Related to Love and Dating!
Feel like you’re an expert on romance in France? Check out our upcoming article on love in French to see if you’d succeed at love and relationships, French-style.
Do you know other beautiful French love quotes? Share them with us in the comments!