With its world-famous wine, picturesque countryside, and cobblestone sidewalks, France is the perfect romantic setting. In a setting like this, it makes sense that French writers would frequently get carried away with descriptions of l’amour. French is the language of love, of course. From Antoine De Saint-Exupéry to Victor Hugo, here are 32 of the best French love quotes from French writers, poets, and historical figures.
“Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.”
– Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
Translation: To love is not to look at each other, it is to look together in the same direction.
This quote perfectly expresses the difference between infatuation and love. Love is going forward together through decisions, changes and challenges, not just gazing into eachothers eyes. Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, (1900-1944) is the author of the famous fable Le Petit Prince.
Another beautiful quote from Saint-Exupéry is:
“On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Translation: One sees well with the heart.
While many people may tell you to look at love logically, Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s message is to go by what your heart tells you. Following your inner self is indeed oftentimes best.
“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.
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, who went by the pen name George Sand, was a French Novelist, journalist and memorist. She used the pen name George Sand, since male writers were more respected and likely to be published than female writers. In this quote, George Sand states simply the truth that love is what makes life so special. Not only loving but being loved in return is a pure and wonderful happiness that should be cherished.
“C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.”
– Albert Camus
Translation: This is love, giving it one’s all, sacrificing everything without hope of it being returned.
Albert Camus, writer of famous novels such as The Stranger, was an absurdist writer and philosopher. Camus was no stranger to love, having multiple wives and mistresses and even gaining a reputation as a womanizer. Even so, this quotation from Camus is a perfect expression of the sacrifice and act of faith love is.
“L’amour est comme le vent, nous ne savons pas d’où il vient.”
– Honoré de Balzac
Translation: Love is like the wind, nobody knows where it comes from.
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright born in the city of Tour in 1799. He was known for plays like Le Pere Goriot and publishing short stories under a collection called La Comédie humaine. Balzac exchanged letters with his love, Ewelina Hańska, for 15 years. This famous quote resonates with many who find that love can be unexpected and arrives at strange times, like a sudden gust of wind.
“L’amour est la poésie des sens.”
– Honoré de Balzac
Translation: Love is poetry of the senses.
Poetry is a beautiful way of describing the feeling of being in love.
Balzac also wrote:
“La passion est toute l’humanité, sans elle, la religion, l’histoire, le roman, l’art seraient inutiles.”
– Honoré de Balzac
Translation: Passion is in all humanity; without it, religion, history, literature, and art would be rendered useless.
Only a playwright like Honoré de Balzac could make such a dramatic statement. Indeed, it is true that passion and love run the world.
“L’esprit s’enrichit de ce qu’il reçoit, le cœur de ce qu’il donne.”
– Victor Hugo
Translation: The spirit enriches with what it receives, the heart with what it gives.
This beautiful quote was penned by no other than Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo lived from 1802-1885, writing abundantly into the romantic era. He is known for a multitude of works, from Les Miserables to The Hunchback of Notre-Dam. His enchanting views on love still inspire many.
“La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel.”
– Victor Hugo
Translation: Life is a flower and love is the honey.
Hugo was known for his romantic and poetic ideals.
He also was quoted as saying:
“Aimer, c’est vivre; aimer, c’est voir; aimer, c’est être.”
– Victor Hugo
Translation: Love, it is life; love, it is sight; love, is to be.
This simple quote is dear to many; it so elegantly states how love is essential to being.
“Il faut s’aimer, et puis il faut se le dire, et puis il faut se l’écrire, et puis il faut se baiser sur la bouche, sur les yeux et ailleurs.”
– Victor Hugo
Translation: We must love, and tell, and then write each other about it, then we must kiss each other’s mouth, and eyes, and elsewhere.
In this famous quote, Hugo poetically states that we should express our love every chance we get.
“Et c’est parfois dans un regard, dans un sourire que sont cachés les mots qu’on n’a jamais su dire.”
– Yves Duteil
Translation: And it is sometimes in a look or in a smile that hides the words that we never knew how to say.
Yves Duteil, a singer-songwriter from Neuilly-sur-Seine, penned these beautiful lyrics into his famous 1981 love song, “Les Choses qu’on ne dit pas”.
“Oh ! si tu pouvais lire dans mon coeur, tu verrais la place où je t’ai mise!”
– Gustave Flaubert
Translation: Oh! If you could read my heart, you would see the place that I keep you!
Gustave Flaubert, (1821-1880), was a novelist from Rouen, known for novels like Madame Bovary and for influencing the rise of literary realism in France. This poetic and fascinating line is about thinking of someone fondly, something we can all relate to.
“Entre deux cœurs qui s’aiment, nul besoin de paroles.”
– Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Translation: Between two hearts in love, no words are needed.
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, 1786-1859, was a poet and novelist. She perfectly understood the power and simplicity of love in this quote, where she says that no communication is really needed when two people s’aiment.
“Quand il me prend dans les bras / Il me parle tout bas / Je vois la vie en rose.”
– Edith Piaf (La vie en rose)
Translation: When he holds me in his arms, and speaks to me softly, I see life through rose-colored glasses.
The singer and cabaret performer Ediath Piaf, (1915-1963) sings these heartfelt lyrics in her famous song, La Vie en Rose. A vibrant woman who had been through many love affairs and heartbreaks, she sang from true experience. Indeed, being in love makes everything seem wonderful.
“Quand on est aimé on ne doute de rien. Quand on aime, on doute de tout.”
Translation: Those who are loved, doubt nothing. Those who love, doubt everything
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 1873-1954 was a nobel-peace nominated writer. She was also known as a mime, journalist, and artist. She expresses in this wise quote that being loved feels secure and comfortable while giving love to others can feel risky and uncertain.
“On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entier.”
– Marcel Proust
Translation: We love only what we do not wholly possess
Marcel Proust (1871-1922), penned the major novel, À la recherche du temps perdu. This quote resembles the English expression: you always want what you can’t have.
“La vie est un sommeil, l’amour en est le rêve.”
– Alfred de Musset
Translation: Life is a sleep, and love is a dream.
Alfred de Musset, 1810-1857, was a dramatist known for his poetry, plays, and successful novel La Confession d’un enfant du siècle.
“J’entends ta voix dans tous les bruits du monde.”
– Paul Éluard
Translation: I hear your voice in all the world’s noise.
One of the founders of the surrealist movement in France, this quote perfectly demonstrates Paul Eluard’s, (1895-1952), elegant and heartfelt writing style.
“Je viens du ciel et les étoiles entre elles ne parlent que de toi.”
– Francis Cabrel
Translation: I come from heaven and the stars, they can’t stop talking about you.
Franci Cabrel voiced these famous lyrics into his song, Petite Marie in 1977. These romantic lyrics show a deep admiration for the subject of his song.
“Elle avait dans les yeux, la force de son coeur.”
– Charles Baudelaire
Translation: She had in her eyes, the force of her heart.
Charles Baudelaire was a poet and essayist. He was also one of the first translators of Edgar Allen Poe. We can all relate to seeing someone’s emotions just by looking into their eyes.
“Il n’est rien de réel que le rêve et l’amour.”
– Anna de Noailles
Translation: There is nothing real but dreams and love.
Indeed, oftentimes the power of love makes the rest of the world feel pointless. This line was written by Anna de Noailles, (1876-1933), a Romanian-French writer.
“Je t’aime plus qu’hier moins que demain.”
– Rosemonde Gérard
Translation: I have loved you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.
Rosemonde Gérard, (1866-1953), was a poet and playwright. This clever way of hinting that his love was ever increasing is one of his most famous lines.
“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.
Germain Nouveau, (1851-1920) was a French poet. This hopeful quote suggests that no matter how long two are separated, the love between them can’t be undone. This is a perfect quote to reflect on especially during quarantine, when many people are apart from their loved ones.
“L’amour fait les plus grandes douceurs et les plus sensibles infortunes de la vie”.
– Madeleine de Scudery
Translation: Love makes life’s sweetest pleasures and worst misfortunes.
Madeleine de Scudery, who lived a long one hundred years from 1601-1701, was a French writer known for her unusually extensive knowledge of ancient history. This quote keeps it real by recognizing that love can come with heartbreak. Nonetheless, love is worth the potential pain.
“L’on est bien faible quand on est amoureux.”
– Madame de Lafayette
Translation: One is weak when they are in love.
Madame de Lafayette (1634-1693) was a classic French writer. Lafayette is the author of La Princesse de Clèves, an incredibly significant novel as it was the first historical novel in France and one of the earliest novels in literature.
“Amour veut tout sans nombre, amour n’a point de loi.”
– Pierre de Ronsard
Translation: Love wants everything without condition, love has no law
Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), was called the ‘king of poets’ in his time and it’s easy to see why with his words on a lawless romance.
“J’ai souvent souffert, je me suis trompé quelquefois; mais j’ai aimé. C’est moi qui ai vécu, et mon orgueil et mon ennui.”
– Alfred de Musset
Translation: I have suffered often, I have sometimes made mistakes, but I loved. It is I who has lived, and not a fictitious being created by my pride and my boredom.
Alfred de Musset, (1810-1856) was a dramatist, poet, and novelist. This is the perfect quote to describe how love is essential to living, and worth any amount of pain it may bring.
“Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.”
– Blaise Pascal
Translation: The heart has its reasons that reason cannot know.
Blaise Pascal, (1623-1662) was known as a child-prodigy turned French mathematician as well as a philosopher and a writer. Even though math involves reason and logic, he was wise to know that the human heart always has different plans.
“L’amour c’est être stupide ensemble.”
– Paul Valéry
Translation: Love is to be stupid together.
Paul Valéry, (1871-1945) was a french poet and fiction writer. Valéry’s fresh take on love is so relatable.
“L’amour est une tragédie pour ceux qui ressentent et une comédie pour ceux qui pensent.”
Translation: Love is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.
The world may not know what to make of the potentially naive decisions you make while you’re in love. In this quote, it’s clear as to why. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, who went by the pen name, Molière, was a 17th century playwright.
“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: I have loved to the point of madness. That which some call madness, but which to me, is the only way to love.
Madame de Staël, (1634-1693), was a political theorist, intellect, and visionary of her time. Her writing and ideas contributed greatly to French romanticism. She was seen as a moderator during the French Revolution and known as a fervent fighter of Napoleonism in Europe.
She was also quoted as saying:
“L’amour est un égoïsme à deux.”
– Madame de Staël
Translation: Love is a selfishness for two.
In another quote of Staël’s, she perfectly states how indulgent love can feel.
“L’amour est l’emblème de l’éternité. Il brouille toute notion de temps, efface tout souvenir d’un début, annule toute peur d’une fin.”
– Madame de Staël
Translation: Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.
Madame de Staël’s notion of love as eternal and oftentimes time-stopping is beautiful and inspiring. Even in today’s world, where things go by so fast, it’s worth remembering that love will always keep us tethered to the present moment.
Now that you’ve gotten 34 of the best French love quotes, your head should be filled with romantic ideas and poetic language. These are perfect for unique tattoos, Valentine’s day cards, letters to a loved one, or in a sweet text. Spread the love today and share one of these heartfelt, meaningful French quotes with someone you care about!