France best selling albums ever:
Les Chemins De Traverse by Francis Cabrel (1979)

When a singer as atypical as Francis Cabrel releases a hit as big as Petite Marie in 1977, most people expect it to be a one-off with the artist not being able to reproduce this success. Cabrel wasn’t going anywhere yet and he proved it with this second album Les Chemins De Traverse, released in 1979.

Lead single of this new LP Je L’Aime A Mourir became even more iconic than Petite Marie, both regarded as some of the sweetest tracks ever. The album responded by climbing to #2 with four months inside the Top 10. Following single Je Rêve was still a decent hit, supporting the album.

Les Chemins De Traverse was Gold a few weeks after release but failed to make Platinum plateau, representing 400,000 units at the time, during 1979. In fact, it sold over 250,000 units that year and needed a few additional years to finally hit Platinum in 1982, one year later than follow up album Fragile.

Both of those albums, along with debut album Les Murs De Poussière, should be regarded as twin brothers. All three have been having very similar catalog sales since 30 years, all three have been getting their certifications audited together, all three sold large amount as part of a 3CD box containing them during the Cabrel fever of the 90s. The only difference consists in Les Murs De Poussière, the artist debut album, selling someway less than the subsequent two when first released. Let study the last two together.

During their respective first rolling year, estimates stand as below:

  • Les Chemins De Traverse – 280,000
  • Fragile – 450,000

Their sales up to the end of 1982:

  • Les Chemins De Traverse – 410,000
  • Fragile – 600,000

Both went Gold in 1991 and 2xGold in 1992 thanks to catalog sales, then in 1994 all sales were merged to get updated certifications:


  • Les Chemins De Traverse – 2xPlatinum (600,000) – 680,000
  • Fragile – 2xPlatinum (600,000) – 870,000

The original gap of 190,000 explains why despite both registered same certifications in 1994 (2xPlatinum), Fragile went 3xPlatinum in 1995 (900,000) and Diamond in 1997 (1 million) despite Les Chemins De Traverse not being certified. With this latter having the same level of catalog sales it was then up to 810,000 units in 1997, not enough to be updated at 3xPlatinum. Also, the more than 100,000 units sold as per the 3CD box are not eligible on standalone albums certifications, not helping its case in getting officially rewarded as a million seller.

The artist catalog was kept updated by his label in 1999 (1985 album Photos De Voyage, 2xPlatinum) and in 2000 (1986 Cabrel Public, 2xPlatinum). At that point, Les Chemins De Traverse had increase its tally as a stand alone album to 850,000 units, which one more time wasn’t enough to get an updated certification. Since that year 2000, Sony never updated his catalog anymore.

In 2015, boosted by a TV documentary along with the release of the artist last album, the complete Francis Cabrel discography strongly reappeared on charts. Fragile charted three weeks at 112-144-182-out, Les Chemins De Traverse did almost exactly the same charting 111-148-168-out. This confirms the fact deduced by certifications on catalog sales received in 1991 and 1992, e.g. both records have been selling steadily highly similar amounts. Just like Fragile, our album of today sold 110,000 more units since 2001. All in all, it is up to 960,000 units as a standalone album plus 150,000 for the various 2/3CD sets.

Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,110,000 copies.

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

Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine, IFOP, GFK.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments