"There's a place in France..."

Where did this supposedly Arabic song/melody come from? The words I learned as a kid went something like this:
“There’s a place in France
Where the women wear no pants.
Stepped on banana peeling
Flew up and hit the ceiling…”
My older brother also came up with:
“There’s a place on Mars where the women smoke cigars
And the brand they smoke is enough to choke a goat…!”

Dunno, but the version I learned as a kid went like this:

There’s a place in France
Where the naked ladies dance
There’s a hole in the wall
Where the men can see it all…

Oh, you mean (attempting to spell the tune):

“La-dee-DAH-da-da, La-dee-DAH-dee-Dah-dee-da”

I have no idea. But I’d strongly suspect it’s from some old musical or play rather than a real Arabic source.

Scottish actor/comic Billy Connolly told a story about when he was a paratrooper in the British Army on Cyprus.
Apparently one of the rites of intoxication was to climb up on a table, drop trousers, clench one end of a long sheet of toilet paper in your butt cheeks, and have someone set fire to the other end. You dance seductively and slow, then all of a sudden frantically and much faster.
Meanwhile all your mates gather about and sing that exotic tune; no words, just “lalala, la, la, lalalalalalala”.
I don’t know what that all means, but it was so goddamn funny the way he told it I almost pissed myself.

Here’s how I learned it:
"All the girls-in-France
take their clothing off and dance,
But the boys don’t care,
'Cause they … " (I forget how that line goes.)

Ooooo, I loved that song as a kid. These are the words that circulated on my playground:

There’s a place in France
Where the naked ladies dance
There’s a hole in the wall
Where the men can see it all
But the men don’t care
'Cause they eat their underwear.

These are the best song lyrics I’ve ever heard! Unfortunetly, I can’t provide any additional info on the tune.

Formerly “Melanie the Computer Idiot”

Somewhere in the song:

And the way they shake
It looks just like a snake.

  • A rose by any other name would still have thorns -

Amazing. Everyone seems to have learned a different version.

"When the girls in France
Do the hula-hula dance
well, they way they shake
is enough to kill a snake
When the snake is dead
They put roses in its head
When the roses die
They put tulips in its eyes


Well, I remember it in the KISS form:

Oh, they don’t wear pants
In the southern part of France


All I recall is
Oh the girls in France
They don’t wear underpants.

Hmmm…I get the idea French women are kinda slutty.

The one I remember (Connecticut, about 1976) is:

There’s a place called Mars
Where the ladies smoke cigars
Every puff they take
Is enough to kill a snake
When the snake is dead
They put mustard on its head
When the mustard cracks
They put roaches on its back

and so on. There was a lot more but I don’t remember it. Less lascivious than the other versions, to be sure.


“Dr. Demento
Basement Tapes No. 1
17.They Don’t Wear Pants in the Southern Part of France - John Bartles”
See also: http://www.drdemento.com/

"Tim Burton’s ‘Vincent’–A Matter of Pastiche
by Michael Frierson
Scene by Scene
The film opens as the camera follows a cat into an empty room where Vincent plays on his recorder a mournful version of “The Hoochie Kootchy Dance”–known to millions of children in its bastardized version by its opening line “Oh they don’t wear pants in the southern part of France.”

“John Bartles
Banal Fixations

"706 - Laserblast
“There’s a PLACE IN FRANCE…” - From the children’s playground song that begins, “There’s a place
in France where the ladies don’t wear pants,” or “…where the naked ladies dance.” Subsequent lines vary
depending on where you’re from. You’re welcome to send your versions; we be interested to see them.
The music in the film’s score sounds like the first few notes of the “Place in France” melody.

I dunno where the tune came from. Is it maybe a gypsy thing?

Ray (never even been to St.-Tropez)

Late seventies, pah.

Well, back in the nineteen fifties, in Philadelphia, the song went:

All the girls in France
Do the Hootchi Kootchi dance,
They don’t even care
If you see their underwear.
'Cause they don’t ever even wear 'em
When they’re dancing in the harem . . .

(The meter changes in the last too lines, obviously.)

It was number one on the first grade boys hit parade. Even then, I did not think it was new. My mother assured me that she remembered a similar song from her youth, some time around the 1920’s.

<p align=“center”>Tris</p>

Oh, come on! It’s the instrumental introduction to Steve Martin’s “King Tut”. Geez, where you guys born yesterday? :wink:

We sang this version to hand motions and everything (ah, the fourth grade hand games…). At the end, both people said, “FREEZE!” Whoever moved first lost.

We also sang the SaxFace version, but at different times and different schools. I never really connected the two till now…


There’s a place on Mars
Where the ladies smoke cigars
And the men wear bikinis
And the women suck zucchinis
Every step they take
They ki-ill a-a snake
When the snake is dead
They put mustard on its head
When the mustard’s dried
They put rubies in its eyes
When the rubies break
It’s the year of forty-eight.

For versions of this and many other children’s rhymes, try the book Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood by Josepha Sherman and T. K. F. Weisskopf

Here’s a variation I learned as a kid:

There’s a place in France
Where the alligators dance
One didn’t dance
So they shot him in the pants
The pants that he wore
Cost a dollar ninety-four

This is the version that I learned–

There’s a place on Mars
Where the ladies smoke cigars.
Every step they take
Is enough to kill a snake.
If the snakes don’t die,
Then they poke them in the eyes.

My version:

There’s a place on Mars
where the women smoke cigars.
Where the men wear bikinis
and the children drink Martinis.

There’s a land called France
Where the hula-girls dance
And the way they shake
It’s enough to kill a snake
When the snake is dead
They put roaches in his head
When the roaches are dead
They put diamonds in his EYES.

No, we were singing the “girls wear no pants” lines at least four years before that. Respect your elders, sonny!

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. But we all knew that, right? Ok, never mind.