For decades, the Eurovision Song Contest has become one of the most-watched shows in Europe. Among the competition’s regular participants is France, one of Eurovision’s Big Five countries, guaranteeing them a spot in the highly anticipated final.
France’s unrelenting pursuit of a winning song has been the stuff of legends, with each new entrant carrying the hopes and aspirations of a nation. However, despite their enthusiasm, France has not claimed the Eurovision crown since 1977. In this article, we look into the rich history of France’s remarkable journey in this prestigious contest, celebrating their moments of triumph, resilience, and unwavering dedication.
The 2023 Edition Did Not Go as Planned for France
Forty-six years after their last Eurovision victory, France took a gamble on Canadian singer Fatima Zahra Hafdi to bring home the trophy. Hafdi, whose stage name is La Zarra was selected by France Télévisions, the public broadcaster of France, to represent the country in this year’s Eurovision competition. Despite being seen as one of the favorites by the best French sportsbook and casino sites, it seems that the odds were against her as the song she co-produced and co-wrote, Évidemment, only reached a disappointing 16th place.
The Golden Years of French Eurovision Domination
France may be struggling in the Eurovision song contest, but this was not always the case. Despite stiff competition from Italy, France won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 1958. André Claveau’s crooner French rendition of “Dors Mon Amour” enthralled the audience and achieved an unexpected triumph. This happened just one year after Paule Desjardins finished second with “La Belle Amour.” Jean Phillipe was chosen to represent France with the song “Oui, oui, oui, oui” in 1959. After the previous victory, the French representative was under a lot of pressure. However, the French representative finished third. Nonetheless, a notable achievement and without a doubt one of France’s top 10 Eurovision song entries of all time.
In 1960, France’s Eurovision Song Contest entry was a cheerful song called “Tom Pillibi.” It won first place and became the first winning song to achieve chart success both in France and internationally. The singer, Jacqueline Boyer, also made it onto the charts in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium. Additionally, the song topped the Spanish charts for four weeks during the summer of 1960.
France won the Eurovision Song Contest again in 1962, this time with Isabelle Aubret’s performance of “Un Premier Amour.” The Eurovision Song Contest can make or break a career. Although Aubret won by a large margin, her chart success was not as significant as Boyer’s. However, French was quickly becoming a dominant language in the competition, with the top three contestants in the 1962 edition all performing in French.
Third Place was Not Enough
France finished third in the Eurovision Song Contest three times between 1965 and 1968. Guy Mardel placed third in 1965 for his love pop ballad “N’avoue jamais.” Noelle Cordier took third place for France at Eurovision two years later. The passionate words and emotive melodies of “Il doit faire beau là-bas” earned her a score of 20 points, and France appeared to be on the verge of victory once more. The following year, France’s journey of securing the third-place position continued. Isabelle Aubret stepped onto the stage and earned 20 points in the Eurovision final, ultimately finishing third in the contest rankings.
After a prolonged period of being trapped in the third-place position, France finally broke the cycle and achieved victory in the Eurovision competition once again. This momentous triumph took place in 1969 when Frida Boccara delivered an astonishing performance and claimed the first-place honor with her captivating song, “Un jour, un enfant.” The lyrics conveyed a vision of a world where every child could freely dream and embrace peace and love.
One Last Win and a Few Close Calls
France’s Eurovision journey has been marked by one last triumphant victory and a few tantalizingly close calls. It took a long 20 years for France to taste victory again in the contest, finally breaking the dry spell in 1977. Marie Myriam’s captivating performance of “L’Oiseau et l’Enfant” resonated with the audience and brought home the coveted Eurovision title.
France had to wait until 2021 to finish in the top three in the Eurovision Song Contest. Barbara Pravi’s passionate and poignant song “Voila” captured many people’s hearts and helped France place second. This victory provided a glimmer of hope for French fans, rekindling the desire to win Eurovision. However, France did not make a breakthrough in the following years. Despite their greatest efforts, the country has failed to achieve any recent success.
While the search for a new winner continues, France’s Eurovision story remains a vital part of the competition. We are eagerly awaiting a winning song for France and hope to see them reclaim the Eurovision crown. For the time being, we will remember France’s wins, near-misses, and lasting legacy in the Eurovision Song Contest. Vive la musique, vive la France!