France best selling albums ever:
Boucan D’Enfer by Renaud (2002)

Debuting in 1975 with the album Amoureux De Paname and peaking in 1985 with the gigantic hit single Mistral Gagnant and the album of the same name that sold over a million, the career of French legend Renaud was over by the late 90s, which seemed quite natural after all those years, especially considering personal life troubles of the artist.

Unexpected blockbuster Boucan D’Enfer entirely changed the situation. Pairing with fellow superstar Axelle Red on lead single Manhattan-Kaboul, a strong peace anthem following World Trade Center carnage, Renaud convinced the whole audience within’ the few airplay weeks prior the album release.  This success coupled with his fan base enabled the album to enter straight at 1, blocking Eminem album The Eminem Show. On week 2, the album was still huge enough to block the largest selling album of the last 15 years, Entre-Deux by Patrick Bruel.

This pair of albums went into a massive roll, destroying the competition during four months by being 1-2 almost every week. New albums by large selling acts like Coldplay, Manu Chao, Zebda, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen among others all failed to top charts, often entering at 3, because of Bruel and Renaud ridiculously successful albums. Even record breaking first week sales and Christmas rush favorite A La Vie, A La Mort by Johnny Hallyday hasn’t been enough to break the hegemony of the two acts, who ended at 1 and 2 in the 2002 Year End Charts, Entre-Deux taking the edge over Boucan D’Enfer.

Nothing to be ashamed of for Renaud yet considering the amount of sales he managed. In the first Virgin audit of 2002, which happened five weeks after Boucan D’Enfer release, the album was already over 600,000 mark with Double Platinum status achieved. On following audit, 15 weeks into the album life, it was already certified Diamond for over 1 million sales.

While French sales sources are often doubtful, requiring a lot of experience to figure out what’s real for albums that passed the million mark so much, there is still one 100% source: the EMI label Year End Report. In fact, this album sold so much locally that it was part of the major bestsellers of the year. EMI Group financial year goes from April 1st to March 31. Thus, results from 2002 include sales from Boucan D’Enfer release until March 31 of 2003, date up to which the album had sold 1,8 million copies worldwide.

This figure includes 1,5 million copies sold in France during 2002, over 150,000 units in Belgium plus Switzerland and the additional copies sold in 2003 Q1 in France.

By May 2004, that figure had raised to 2 million copies in Europe, as certified by the IFPI, including 1,8 million in France alone. Since, the album sold 70,000 in mid04-07, 30,000 copies from 2008 to 2015 plus 50,000 copies from 2CD box with Visage Pâle Rencontrer Public. In late 2004, an “Operation total” launched on music clubs included this album. While those sales weren’t tracked by IFOP, from 21/09/2004 to 24/10/2004 the album shipped enough copies to be certified Gold. Sales for this release are estimated on 180,000 units.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 2,130,000 copies.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

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