The French Mélodie - the name given for French art song - thrived from Berlioz to Poulenc (a span of about 130 years.) Berlioz wrote the first quote cycle of "Mélodies" called Les Nuits d'été in 1841. This cycle marked the treatment of the mélodie as a serious form.
According to Carol Kimball, The mélodie emerged as a result of "the decline in the artistic level of the eighteenth-century Romance (French art song marked by its simplicity), the introduction into France of Schubert's Lieder, which became very popular and widely published and disseminated, and the new romantic poetry (namely Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire, and Victor Hugo) that called for new compositional styles and techniques".
Themes include the French fascination with the oriental/exotic,
the Moor influence (Spain), the tradition of the Flamenco and the second as an interval.