81 Enchanting French Quotes About Happiness

The candor and beauty of the French language add richness and clarity to any idea. So savor the richness of these French quotes about happiness.

Many consider the French language the most beautiful language. However, it is more than a beautiful language of love. French people don’t simply speak beautifully, they speak profoundly and frankly.

Many French words are difficult to pronounce and command of this romance language is difficult. That is unfortunate because the language is full of beautiful quotes and proverbs.

20 French Proverbs About Happiness

These French sayings offer the cutting wit and wisdom you’d expect from French thinkers. Each French proverb is rich with wisdom to help expand your mind and help you work towards happiness.

Although most don’t have a person to credit as saying them, they are some of the best quotes.

Au long aller, petit fardeau pèse.

(On a lengthy journey, a small burden weighs.)

Qui vivra verra.

(Time will tell.)

Le bonheur fuit celui qui le cherche.

(Happiness flees from the one who seeks it.)

Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop.

(Chase the natural, it comes back at a gallop.)

That is the literal translation. The English equivalent is similar to a leopard can’t change its spots.

Donner, c’est donner; reprendre, c’est voler.

(To give is to give; to take back is to steal.)

Quand on met la main à la pâte, il en reste toujours quelque chose aux doigts.

(When you put your hand in the dough, there is always something left in your fingers.)

Il vaut mieux prévenir que guérir.

(Prevention is better than cure.)

This famous quote is similar to the American phrase an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This is one of the more profound French quotes about happiness. Most things you do for prevention aren’t fun, so you don’t think they bring happiness. The truth is, the better-prepared you are for the future, the better your chance of being happy.

Ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit.

(It’s the empty barrels that make the most noise.)

At first glance, it seems like this proverb is similar to the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I don’t know that this one has an English Equivalent. I believe this one compares barrels to heads, equating an empty barrel to an empty head.

This proverb suggests that a more intelligent person will tend to be quieter while a dumber person has more difficulty remaining quiet.

Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire.

(When the wine is drawn, it must be drunk.)

Who doesn’t love an idiom or proverb that includes alcohol? One translation I read is that once you begin a step you have to continue [1]. I think a more accurate comparison to “You’ve made your bed now lay in it.”

Impossible n’est pas français.

(Impossible is not French.)

I think this phrase indicates that the word impossible isn’t a word in French, that nothing is impossible.

Pluie du matin n’arrête pas le pèlerin.

(Morning rain does not stop the pilgrim.)

On n’apprend pas aux vieux singes à faire des grimaces.

(You don’t teach old monkeys to make faces.)

This proverb stresses the importance of experience.

Qui n’entend qu’une cloche n’entend qu’un son.

(Who hears only a bell hears only a sound.)

That is the literal translation from Google Translate. I think a more accurate translation will be “one sound.” This proverb warns against being closed-minded and shallow. I think it suggests taking a closer and deeper look at important topics.

A more equivalent American idiom would be you can’t judge a book by its cover.

As a writer, this one means a lot to me. For some reason, I think better when I write. I’ve tried recording myself, talk to text, and even conversations when I record podcasts.

Yet, the most new thoughts come to me as I’m writing. I think this is the power of journaling. It works like the “pensieve” in the Harry Potter books. As soon as you put the thoughts on paper (or the ideas on canvas) it makes room in your mind for the next one.

Writing the words down does more than simply make room, though. Writing the words down creates a vacuum that is immediately filled by the next thought. Each new thought is bigger and deeper than the one it replaces.

Chacun voit midi à sa porte

(Everyone sees noon at his door.)

I’ve seen two different translations for this proverb. One is “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” The other English translation is “To each his own.”

The translation I agree with is closer to the second one. Although I believe the correct translation is closer to everyone has their own opinion, I think it means more than that.

This proverb suggests that the person won’t recognize any other door. It is the opposite of “It’s not happening to me, so it’s not happening. It also suggests that arguing or debating the point will never change the other person’s mind.

Chaque jour de ta vie est un feuillet de ton histoire que tu écris.

Every day of your life is a sheet of your story that you write.

Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.

(Little by little, the bird makes its nest.)

Votre source de motivation est l’ingrédient qui peut faire toute la différence.

(Your source of motivation is the ingredient that can make all the difference.)

Vouloir c’est pouvoir.

(To want is to can.)

Vous n’êtes pas encore arrivés mais vous êtes plus proche qu’hier.

(You haven’t arrived yet, but you are closer than yesterday.)

This is another of the wiser French quotes about happiness. It’s the progress that brings happiness, not the arrival. Progress builds happiness in two ways.

First, progress gives you confidence. The more that you do, the more confidence you gain that you can do more. That resilience is a huge part of happiness.

Secondly, you get to enjoy the small victories. A small victory every day is a great source of joy.

It’s important to have your next goal in mind. That way, when you do arrive at the first goal, you can enjoy that arrival for a while. Then you soon start progress on the next goal so that you can continue to enjoy small accomplishments every day.

Fais toujours de ton mieux même si personne ne regarde.

(Always do your best even if no one is watching.)

French Inspirational Quotes to Keep You Motivated

These motivational quotes will help inspire you if you’re feeling down.

Dans la vie, rien n’est à craindre, tout est à comprendre.

(In life, nothing is to be feared, everything is to be understood.)

-Marie Curie

On n’ est point toujours une bête pour l’avoir été quelquefois.

(Being a fool sometimes does not make one a fool all the time.)

– Denis Diderot

Le monde est un livre dont chaque pas nous ouvre une page.

(The world is a book—with each step we open a page.)

– Alphonse de Lamartine

Toutes les conquêtes sublimes sont plus ou moins des prix de hardiesse.

(All sublime conquests are more or less the prizes of boldness.)

-Victor Hugo

Le monde de la réalité a ses limites; le monde de l’imagination est sans frontières.

(The world of reality has its limits; the world of the imagination is without borders.)

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Sans l’incertitude l’aventure n’existerait pas.

(Without the uncertainty, the adventure would not exist.)

-Alain Séjourné (French lawyer)

Voyager, c’est grandir. C’est la grande aventure. Celle qui laisse des traces dans l’âme.

(To travel is to grow. This is the great adventure. The one who leaves traces in the soul.)

-Marc Thiercelin (French navigator)

Peindre signifie penser avec son pinceau.

(To paint means to think with your brush.)

-Paul Cézanne

Pour être irremplaçable, il faut être différente.

(To be irreplaceable, you have to be different.)

-Coco Chanel

“Personne n’est jeune après quarante ans mais on peut être irrésistible à tout âge.”

(No one is young after forty, but you can be irresistible at any age.)

-Coco Chanel

“La vérité vaut bien qu ‘on passe quelques années sans la trouver.”

(Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it.)

-Jules Renard

“La parfaite valeur est de faire sans témoin ce qu’on serait capable de faire devant tout le monde.”

(The perfect value is to do without witnesses what one would be able to do in front of everyone.)

-François de La Rochefoucauld

“Il n’y a pas de verités moyennes.”

(There are no half-truths.)

-Georges Bernanos

Un homme n’est pas vieux tant qu’il cherche quelque chose.

(A man is not old as long as he is seeking something.)

-Jean Rostand

Un des grands malheurs de la vie moderne, c’est le manque d’imprévu, l’absence d’aventures.

(One of the great woes of modern life is the lack of the unexpected, the lack of adventure.)

-Théophile Gautier (French poet and novelist)

One of the great woes of modern life is the lack of the unexpected, the lack of adventure. -Théophile Gautier

La mort ne surprend point le sage: Il est toujours prêt à partir.

(Death does not surprise the wise man: He is always ready to go.)

-Jean de La Fontaine

L’approbation des autres est un stimulant dont il est bon quelquefois de se méfier.

(The approval of others is a stimulant that is sometimes good to be wary of.”)

-Paul Cézanne

Don’t rely on approval from others. Do what is right for you.

Beautiful French Quotes About Happiness

On est heureux quand on cesse de penser tout le temps a soi et de juger les autres.

(We are happy when we stop thinking about ourselves all the time and judging others.)

-Mouloud Benzadi

Il y en a qui ont le coeur si large qu’on y rentre sans frapper. Il y en a qui ont le coeur si frêle qu’on le brise d’un doigt.

(There are those who have a heart so broad that you enter without knocking. There are those who have a heart so frail that it is broken with a finger.)

-Jacques Brel

La joie réside au plus intime de l’âme; on peut aussi bien la posséder dans une obscure prison que dans un palais.

(Joy resides in the innermost part of the soul; it can be possessed just as well in an obscure prison as in a palace.)

-Thérèse de Lisieux

Laissez pas la peur dominer le coeur, si on veut que l’amour soit vainqueur.

(Do not let fear rule the heart, if we want love to be victorious.)

-Victor Hugo

Il n’y a de réalité que dans l’action.

(There is no reality except in action.)

-Jean-Paul Sartre

La jouissance du bonheur amoindrira toujours le bonheur.

(The enjoyment of happiness will always lessen happiness.)

-Honoré de Balzac

Le bonheur supprime la vieillesse.

(Happiness takes away old age.)

-Franz Kafka

Le bonheur ne se cache pas.

(Happiness does not hide.)

-Céline Dion

Viser au bonheur, aspirer au bonheur, chercher le bonheur, c’est prendre pour cible un reflet dans la glace.

(Aiming for happiness, aspiring for happiness, seeking happiness is to target a reflection in the mirror.)

-Jean-François Somaun

La vie est un défi à relever, un bonheur à mériter, une aventure à tenter.

(Life is a challenge to be taken up, a happiness to be earned, an adventure to be attempted.)

-Mother Teresa

L’éducation ne fait pas le bonheur.

(Education does not buy happiness.)

-Eugène Labiche

Le bonheur forcé est un cauchemar.

(Forced happiness is a nightmare.)

-Amélie Nothomb, Les Catilinaires

Le bonheur parfait s’use vite.

(Perfect happiness wears out quickly.)

-Robert Choquette, Moi, Pétrouchka

Le bonheur, fruit de la conscience épanouie.

(Happiness, the fruit of a blooming conscience.)

-Roger Fournier, Les sirènes du Saint-Laurent

Bonheur: un mot fragile, évanescent, léger, surtout.

(Happiness: a fragile, evanescent, light word, above all.)

-Philippe Delerm

Nous vivons dans un arc-en-ciel de chaos.

(We live in a rainbow of chaos.)

-Paul Cézanne

Le seul bonheur qu’on a vient du bonheur qu’on donne.

(The only happiness we have comes from the happiness we give.)

-Edouard Pailleron

Le bonheur rend généreux.

(Happiness makes you generous.)

-Brice Parain

L’esprit s’enrichit de ce qu’il reçoit, le cœur de ce qu’il donne.

(The spirit enriches with what it receives, the heart with what it gives.)

-Victor Hugo

Un peuple malheureux fait les grands artistes.

(An unhappy nation makes great artists.)

-Alfred de Musset

That’s a misunderstood aspect of happiness. Life being pleasant all the time won’t make you happy. Living through hard times, surviving, thriving will result in the highest levels of happiness.

Fighting and persisting through struggles builds resilience and confidence.

Le bonheur n’est pas quelque chose de prêt à l’emploi. Il vient de vos propres actions.

(Happiness is not something out of the box. It comes from your own actions.)

-Dalai Lama XIV

Although I didn’t find this quote attributed to the Dalai Lama, it sounds very similar to his quote, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

Après la pluie, le beau temps.

(After the rain, the good weather.)

-Comtesse de Ségur (the title of one of her books)

This quote reminds me of the famous song in the musical Annie! “The sun will come out tomorrow!”

Le bonheur est parfois caché dans l’inconnu.

(Happiness is sometimes hidden in the unknown.)

-Victor Hugo

That’s an interesting thing about happiness. We think we know where to find it and how to get it. Then, not finding it where we expect makes us unhappy. Our unmet expectations make us unhappy.

When we’re open to new experiences and learn to appreciate the present moment, we increase our chances of nurturing happiness. This is the reason why I think that many judge Pollyanna too harshly and why I believe Pollyannaism is a great mindset.

(Be sure to check out the related posts below when you finish enjoying the quotes!)

To expand upon that idea, here is a similar quote to Victor Hugo’s.

Les chefs-d’oeuvre ne sont jamais que des tentatives heureuses.

(Masterpieces are never more than happy attempts.)

-George Sand

Le bonheur et le malheur sont parfois si près l’un de l’autre qu’ils se confondent. Notre coeur comme une pendule se balance toujours entre les deux.

(Happiness and unhappiness are sometimes so close to each other that they merge. Our heart like a pendulum always swings between the two.)

-Max Deauville

Le bonheur s’édifie parfois sur des ruines plus solidement que sur des fondations nouvelles.

(Happiness is sometimes built on ruins more solidly than on new foundations.)

-Marie-Antoinette Grégoire-Coupal

Le chemin qui mène au bonheur demande parfois de renoncer à la facilité, pour suivre les exigences de sa volonté au plus profond de soi.

(The path that leads to happiness sometimes requires giving up the facility, to follow the demands of his will deep within oneself.)

-Laurent Gounelle (French writer)

Le bonheur est parfois une bénédiction – mais, le plus souvent, c’est une conquête.

(Happiness is sometimes a blessing – but, more often than not, it is a conquest.)

-Paulo Coelho

Famous French Quotes

While not specifically French quotes about happiness, the famous French phrases still provide wisdom that can significantly direct us on a great path.

On n’est point toujours une bête pour l’avoir été quelquefois.

(One is not always an animal to have been it sometimes.)

-Denis Diderot

A better translation than what Google did is “Being a fool sometimes does not make one a fool all the time.”

Prouver que j’ai raison serait accorder que je puis avoir tort.

(To prove that I am right would be to grant that I can be wrong.)

-Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Dans une grande âme tout est grand.

(In a great soul everything is great.)

-Blaise Pascal

Je pense, donc je suis.

(I think, therefore, I am.)

-Rene Descartes

L’æuvre d’art, c’est une idée qu’on exagére.

(A work of art is an idea that someone exaggerates.)

-André Gide

À vaillant coeur rien d’impossible.

(With a valiant heart, nothing is impossible.)

-Jacques Cœur

Si vous êtes triste, ajoutez plus de rouge à lèvres et attaquez.

(If you are sad, add more lipstick and attack.)

-Coco Chanel

La mort ne surprend point le sage: Il est toujours prêt à partir.

(Death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go.0

-Jean de La Fontaine

French Love Quotes

While they are not all French quotes about happiness, these quotes about love are beautiful and deep enough to provide a little joy. Sharing love is a great contributor to happiness!

“Il n ’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’ est d’aimer et d ’ être aimé.”

(There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.)

-George Sand

Il n ’est rien de réel que le rêve et l’amour.

(Nothing is real but dreams and love.)

-Anna de Noailles

C’ est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.

This is love, giving everything, sacrificing everything with no hope of return.

-Albert Camus

Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.

(To love is not to look at each other, it is to look together in the same direction.)

– Antoine de St Exupéry (writer, aviator, philospher author of Le Petit Prince)

L’amour est comme le vent, nous ne savons pas d’où il vient.

(Love is like the wind, we don’t know where it came from.)

-Honoré de Balzac

L’amour fait les plus grandes douceurs et les plus sensibles infortunes de la vie.

(Love makes life’s sweetest pleasures and worst misfortunes.)

― Madeleine de Scudéry

L’amour, c’est l’espace et le temps rendus sensibles au Coeur.

(Love is space and time made sensitive to the Heart.)

-Marcel Proust

“Le seul véritable voyage … ce ne serait pas d’aller vers de nouveaux paysages, mais d’avoir d’autres yeux, de voir l’univers avec les yeux d’un autre, de cent autres, de voir les cent univers que chacun d’eux voit.”

(The only real trip … it would not be to go to new landscapes, but to have other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see a hundred universes that each of them sees.)

-Marcel Proust

Get To Know Some of the Frequently Quoted French Speakers

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne is one of France’s great artists. His work influenced modern artistic movements, most notably, cubism.

Marcel Proust

Modern critics and writers consider this French novelist, critic, and essayist to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century[2].

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish-French scientist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win two Nobel prizes. She even won her two Nobel prizes in two different scientific fields. Marie Curie is the only person to do that![3]

Albert Camus

Camus was a French author, journalist, and philosopher. He won the Nobel prize for literature at age 44, the second-youngest to win a Nobel prize[4].


Which are your favorite French Quotes about happiness?

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