J'arrive a toi

This is the first song on the album: "Little French Songs".  A French critic describes "J'arrive a toi" as "une petite perle amoureuse, brillante" - a brilliant little pearl, talking of love.
In the game of marriage, it is sometimes seen as unwise to tell a partner how totally unsatisfactory your life was before you met.  Not only does it reduce your status, but it can give the partner a dangerous complacency arising from your dependency.
Carla Bruni, however, has no time for such stratagems and, frank and trusting as ever, tells to the new love in her life all the many things that were wrong with her life before. 
The first lines tell how, although she had nothing when she first started her career, she rapidly achieved success and was quickly involved in the empty routine of the acquisition of wealth and possessions.  She was in her early twenties, when she launched herself into the turmoil and insecurity of work as a model. She was totally inexperienced, as she tells us, when she suddenly found herself on the front-line of the battlefield of life.
She goes on to list the strains and disappointments and at times the emptiness of her previous experience.  She delights in the miraculous arrival of the new man in her life, and the great change that this has brought.  Carla herself describes this song as « une chanson de maturité, de sérénité », - a song of maturity and serenity.

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J'arrive au port(1) les mains vides, j'arrive au soir sans compter (2)

Et à chaque matin avide(3) il me faut recommencer

J'arrive au front sans sagesse, j'arrive à l'âge sans raison

C'est sûr qu'on vit de justesse(4), c'est sûr qu'on vit sans façon(5)


J'arrive à toi par miracle(6), après de longues années

Après des siècles d’obstacles(7)

Et des lundis, des lundis tristes à pleurer

J'n'arrive à rien qui console, j'n'arrive à rien qui prétend(8)

J'n'arrive à rien qui s'envole,(9) à rien qui défie(10) le temps

Et s'il arrive qu'une étoile, sur nous se penche(11) un instant

C'est sûr qu'la vie nous dévale(12), c'est sûr qu'elle nous entreprend(13)


J'arrive à toi par miracle après de longues années

A consulter les oracles et à guetter(14),

à guetter l'inespéré(15)



J'arrive du nord de l’Irlande

J'arrive du creux d'une vallée

J'arrive droit de Samarcande

J'arrive des Indes poivrées(16)



Et s'il arrive que je chante que je me laisse emporter(17)

C'est sûr qu'la vie nous tourmente

C'est sûr qu'on goûte aux(18) regrets



J'arrive à toi par miracle

Après de longues années

Après l'enfance grisâtre et la jeunesse,

Et la jeunesse endiablée(19)


I reach base with hands empty, I reach night with loads in hand

And at each hungry morning , I need start over again.

I reach the front unwitting,  reach the age  of unreason

Sure we live at the limits, sure we live with no great fuss.



I reach you by a miracle, after some very long years,

After centuries of obstruction

And Mondays, sad Mondays driving me to tears

I reach nothing consoling, I reach nothing promising,

I reach nothing which flies high, nothing which stands up to time                 

And if it chances that a star should look down on us one instant

Life is sure to set us back, it is sure to drive us down. 


I reach you by a miracle, after long years

Of consulting oracles and of keeping close watch,

For something out of the blue



I arrive from Northern Ireland

I arrive from the valley’s depth

I arrive straight from Samarcande

I arrive from hot-spiced India



And should I chance to sing, let myself get carried away

It’s sure life's just  tormenting 

It’s sure we will taste regrets.



I reach you by a miracle

After many long years

After grey years of childhood and the years

And the years of turbulent youth.








1) Arriver au port means to arrive at one’s destination


2) sans compter – Used adverbially- - donner sans compter- copieusement, d'une manière extravagante, généreusement Translation - lavishly, extravagantly



3) Avide - acquisitive, avid, covetous, eager, grasping, greedy, keen, out for, desirous, ardent, athirst, avaricious, breathless, covetous, desirous, devoted, dying to, eager, fanatical, fervent, gotta have, grasping, greedy, hungry, impatient, insatiable, intense, keen, passionate, rapacious, ravenous, thirsty, voracious, zealous voracious, gluttonous, sordid, wishful,


4) de justesse (adv.) by the skin of one's teeth, just, narrowly, no sooner, at the last moment, only just, hardly


5) sans façon (adj.) rough-and-ready adverbe de manière[Classe.. simplicité, non complexité — simplement[Classe] without fuss aloof, apathetic, blasé, breezy, cool*, cursory, detached, down home, easygoing, folksy, homey, incurious, indifferent, informal, insouciant, lackadaisical, laid-back*, loose*, low-pressure, mellow, offhand, perfunctory, pococurante, purposeless, remote, unconcerned, unfussy , uninterested, withdrawn


6) Par miracle Thème] par magie[Classe] amazing, anomalous, astonishing, astounding, awesome, extraordinary, fabulous, freakish, heavy, incredible, inexplicable, magical, marvelous, monstrous, numinous, phenomenal, preternatural, prodigious, spectacular, staggering, strange, stupefying, stupendous, superhuman, superior, supermundane, supernatural, supranatural, thaumaturgic, the utmost, unaccountable, unbelievable, unearthly, unimaginable, unreal, wonderworking, wondrous


7) obstacle (n.) - bar, hindrance, hurdle, impediment, jump, obstacle, obstruction, roadblock, snag, stumbling block, obstructor, obstructer, impedimenta, barrier, hitch, preventive, preventative, encumbrance, interference, hindrance, check, vault, hang-up, verb être un obstacle à (v.) hamper, hinder, impede, obstruct


8) prétendre (v.) profess, simulate, assume, sham, feign, argue, reason, claim, pretend.  Prétendre à would gives a good translation as it means aspire to.


9) s'envoler (v.) take off, rise, jump, climb up, lift, arise, move up, go up, come up, uprise, ascend, depart, part, start, start out, set forth, set off, set out, start off.


10) défier (v.) challenge, dare, defy, withstand, hold, hold up, stand up to défier (v.) (V+de+comp) dare, defy


11) sur nous se penche = to lean over something/focus on something/ have a good look at something


12) la vie nous dévale -  dévaler means to go on a downward path but dictionaries do not seem to give it a transitive use.  Perhaps the author is confusing the English word “devalue”


13) entreprendre qn to direct one’s attention to/ to attack


14) guetter (v. trans.) .attendre avec impatience quelque chose ou quelqu'un.guetter (v.)garder, garder un œil sur, observer, protéger, regarder, suivre, suivre de près, surveiller, tenir à l'œil, veiller sur, veiller  (V+sur+comp)    guetter (v. trans.) attendre, épier, espionner, être à l'affût, être à l'écoute, être de faction, faire attention, guigner, méfier, menacer, observer, pister, se mettre à l'affût, surveiller, être aux aguets  (V), tenir aux aguets  (se+V)


15) l’inespéré = theunexpected the unhoped for


16) poivrer (v.)  assaisonner, assaisonner de poivre, fusiller, plomber,- peppery


17) je me laisse emporter  se laisser emporter means to get carried away


18) qu'on goûte aux regrets – goûter à qch is to to taste/ to sample something


19) endiabler = expresses an unfortunate change- to go  off the rails/ to become bad/ wicked/ turbulent/ tempestuous/ a recalcitrant.