Notes

*"Coco" is baby talk for "horse".
**In France, "gendarmes" (originally "gens d'armes", "men-at-arms") are members of a branch of the military charged with police duties among civilian population.

*****

This song can be found with "gendarme" and "Bourguignon" in singular or in plural.

There are many versions of this rhyme. The first line can be found as, "À coco, gendarmes" or "À cheval, gendarmes".

Here are some other versions:

À cheval, gendarmes,
À pied, Bourguignons,
Allons en campagne ("Let's go to the countryside" - but more likely, "on a campaign"),
Les autres y vont ("The others go there too")
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au trot, au trot, au trot,
Au galop, au galop, au galop.

Or:

À cheval, gendarmes,
À pied, Bourguignons,
Allons en Champagne" (Let's go to the Champagne region),
Les autres y sont (The others are there)
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au trot, au trot, au trot,
Au galop, au galop, au galop.

Or the more sanitized:

À cheval, gendarmes,
À pied, Bourguignons,
Allons à la fête (Let's go to the party),
Les autres y sont…

You can find an old Brittany version in this document (Revue des Traditions Populaires, n° 31, jan.-fév. 1916, BNF) (France National Library):

À cheval, gendarmes, (On horse, gendarmes)
À pied, maquignon, (On foot, horse-dealer)
La soupe à l'oseille (Sorrel soup)
Ne vaut pas l'oignon. (Is not worth onion [soup])

Game Instructions

(1) Sit the child on your lap, hold his/her hands
and make him/her bounce as if riding a horse.

(2) Make a slow beat.

(3) Speed up the rhythm.

(4) End with a gallop!

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Sheet Music

Sheet Music - À coco, gendarme

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Monique Palomares for contributing and translating this song and providing the notes and game instructions.

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