Saturday, July 28, 2012

Napoleon's Secret Weapon Revealed - Le Chant de l'Oignon


Perhaps some of you may have already seen this entertaining little video on Burkhard's blog, but it's just too much fun not to post it on my own.  :-)  It features Le Chant de l'Oignon, which apparently was one of the favorite songs sung by Napoleon's Imperial Guard while they charged on the battlefield.

I certainly sang about a lot of silly things when I was in the Army, so it comes to no surprise that some of the most feared infantry of the time sang about eating onions.  Although parents in France might frequently implore their children saying, "Eat your onion soup if you want to become big and strong,"  the thought of Napoleon's Elite singing about loving fried onions while killing Austrians, etc. is pretty hilarious.


I did some quick research via Google and the only thing I came up with in my extensive two minutes was that according to legend the song originates shortly before the Battle of Marengo.  In the story (my translation), Napoleon came across some grenadiers vigorously rubbing something on crusts of bread.  When he inquired what was going on, they revealed the "something" was an onion to which he replied, "Ah ! Très bien, il n'y a rien de meilleur pour marcher d'un bon pas sur le chemin de la gloire!"

(Subtitled version starts at 1:05)


Le Chant de l'Oignon                              (The Song of the Onion)

J'aime l'oignon frît à l'huile,                       (I love onion fried with oil,)
J'aime l'oignon quand il est bon,               (I love the onion when it's good,)
J'aime l'oignon frît à l'huile,                       (I love onion fried with oil,)
J'aime l'oignon, j'aime l'oignon.                (I love onion, I love onion.)

(refrain)
Au pas camarade, au pas camarade,       (Let's charge comrades, let's charge comrades.)
Au pas, au pas, au pas.                           (Let's charge, let's charge, let's charge)
Au pas camarade, au pas camarade,       (Let's charge comrades, let's charge comrades.)
Au pas, au pas, au pas.                           (Let's charge, let's charge, let's charge)

Un seul oignon frît à l'huile,                      (One onion fried with oil,)
Un seul oignon nous change en lion,         (One onion we change into a lion,)
Un seul oignon frît à l'huile                       (One onion fried with oil,)
Un seul oignon nous change en lion.         (One onion we change into a lion,)

(refrain)

Mais pas d'oignons aux Autrichiens,        (But no onions for the Austrians)
Non pas d'oignons à tous ces chiens,       (No onions for all these dogs)
Mais pas d'oignons aux Autrichiens,        (But no onions for the Austrians)
Non pas d'oignons, non pas d'oignons.    (No onions, no onions)

(refrain)

Aimons l'oignon frît à l'huile,                    (Love the onion fried with oil.)
Aimons l'oignon car il est bon,                 (Love the onion because it's good,)
Aimons l'oignon frît à l'huile,                    (Love the onion fried with oil.)
Aimons l'oignon, aimons l'oignon             (Love the onion, love the onion.)

(refrain)


The tune did get stuck in my head for a day.  It is kind of catchy, and I love the part about the Austrians getting no onions.  I don't know if I'd want any future French opponents singing this song across the table top while we played, but I might consider giving his Imperial Guard units a +1 to something if he did.  :-)

Grumble...  grumble...  onions...  grumble...
.

10 comments:

  1. Its lucky they liked all them onions, isn't it!

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  2. Fantastic! You can almost here them now;
    'I don't know, but I've been told; eating onions makes us bold'

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  3. Hilarious! +1 in hand to hand when they exhale.

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  4. Onions rings as battle food - great! Best, Dean

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    Replies
    1. Just think if Napoleon could have ran over and ordered a Bloomin Onion from Outback Steakhouse for the IG's final push at Waterloo...

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    2. Honestly... That one has always been one of my favourites at the
      Outback... Just a shame that it has been over a decade since Imhave last been to an Outback! :-(

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  5. French Army marching songs are brought to you by the Imperial Onion Company. Perhaps this is why Leclerc didn't look out of place disguised as an onion seller in just about every episode of 'Allo 'Allo ...

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  6. Superb, I used to renact the 3eme Garde during the Hundred Days... and we did sing the Onion Song quite regularly. Usually after consuming quantities of alcohol rather than onion soup...

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  7. It seems this is getting viral now!

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