Did Paris sidewalks hear you humming one of Edith Piaf’s famed successes to the rhythm of your strolls? Hum along, as your strolls take you to number 72, rue de Belleville, where a plaque commemorates the artist’s birth on December 19th, 1915, “in a state of utter destitution”.
From Belleville – to this day the last stronghold of an authentic multicultural working-class in the city – the little piaf (sparrow) made her way West to the dingy cabarets of Pigalle and Blanche, at the foot of the Montmartre hill.
She’s 20 years old when she is discovered and begins a rocketing career that will lead her to the most mythical stages of the city – Pleyel, L’Olympia, Bobino – not far from your Hotel Louvre Marsollier in the Grands Boulevards district we walked you through in previous posts.
Fame blows her way further West to the very bourgeois Paris of the 16th district. The luxurious avenue Marceau flat she shares with Yves Montand is the birthplace of her most renown title, “La Vie en Rose”. Her private hotel of 7 rue Leconte-de-Lisle is home to her illegitimate passion for Marcel Cerdan, and to the composition of “L’Hymne à l’amour”. At her death in 1963, she finds a last prestigious dwelling at the Père Lachaise cemetery only a few blocks away from where she was born… in a state of utter destitution.
The intimate Edith Piaf Museum is found at 5 rue Crespin du Gast, 75011 Paris. Free private visits, call Bernard Machoix at 01 43 55 52 72.
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