From Montmartre to the mythical hall of the Olympia, the frail silhouette dressed in black by Edith Piaf moved all of Paris. His inimitable voice remains timeless and his songs still move us.
A sad chidhood in Belleville district
Edith Piaf, whose real name is Giovanna Gassion, left her mark on the northeast of Paris. According to civil status, it was in the Gambetta district, at the Tenon hospital located on rue de la Chine, that the singer was first born in 1915. Mysteriously, a plaque indicates that she would be actually born at 72 rue de Belleville. The legend even says that she would have uttered her first cries on the stairs of this building… In her early childhood, Edith was entrusted for nearly a year and a half to her maternal grandmother Emma Saïd Ben Mohamed, who became known in circuses and then cabarets under the stage name Aïcha, and lived a few steps further far, rue Rébeval. The little one lives there in unsanitary conditions and does not always have enough to eat, like so many destitute children on the streets of Belleville. At 15, Edith set out alone on the streets of Paris, giving voice to the streets of Montmartre.
A triumph at the Gerny’s cabaret
Her life intersects with that of P’tit Louis, her first great love, who gave her Marcelle in 1933, a short-lived child who died of meningitis in 1935. Her destiny awaits her one day in October 1935. Spotted by Louis Leplée, owner of the Gerny’s cabaret, rue Pierre-Charron , she goes from the street to the stage. He then baptizes her “la môme Piaf”, a little bird in slang. At Gerny’s, she sings and triumphs immediately. At the age of 22, in 1937, on the stage of the temple of music hall, the ABC , La Môme becomes definitively Edith Piaf. She continues for the cinema and the theater, where Jean Cocteau makes her his darling in “Le Bel Indifferent”. From the Porte de Bagnolet to the bourgeois comfort of the Porte d’Auteuil, Piaf is above all nomadic, hardly furnishing his apartments.
On the stage of “Au lapin Agile” cabaret
Located in a small cobbled street in Montmartre, the simple and dimly lit Au Lapin Agile club is a meeting place. With decor and comfort that come straight from a bohemian way of life, Piaf, in her twenties, regularly came to sing there, sharing ballads of hope and love. The harshness of the place threatens to permanently close the bar because Edith Piaf lived for some time opposite with a pimp who then tried to shoot her. Feverish when she sings, passionate, Piaf also has flair. She spotted the talent of Yves Montant and helped him propel his career. La vie en rose, success, Cerdan, great love… At the end of 1945, installed with Montand avenue Marceau Piaf writes alone one of the most popular titles of all time, La Vie en rose. But Piaf’s love affairs, like dead leaves, are collected by the shovel. Separated from Montand in 1947, she moved to New York. There, Piaf falls in love with boxer Marcel Cerdan, who is already married. The singer’s mansion, 7, rue Leconte-de-Lisle (16th), houses the passion of the two lovers.
Dinner at “La Cloche d’Or”
Between 1948 and 1949, Piaf regularly took Marcel Cerdan to dinner at the Cloche d’Or. This restaurant at the bottom of Montmartre, located a stone’s throw from the Moulin Rouge, attracted other celebrities of the time such as the actors Fernandel, Gabin or Ventura, or the artists Louis Armstrong and Boris Vian. Even today, photos of these celebrities having a good time adorn the walls of the restaurant. But The Hymn to Love written for Cerdan in September 1949 died out a month later, on October 28, when his plane crashed in the Azores. In 1955, she sang at the Olympia and forged an unfailing friendship with Bruno Coquatrix. His recitals save the mythical hall several times.
A piaf museum rue Crespin du Gast
On October 11, 1963, she died in the south of France. Théo Sarapo, her last husband, secretly brings her body back to the couple’s home, 67, boulevard Lannes (16th). As a last homecoming, she rests in the Père-Lachaise cemetery (20th), on the edge of Ménilmontant and the cobblestones of Belleville. The Edith-Piaf museum, discreet, intimate It is a small apartment in the 11th arrondissement (5, rue Crespin du Gast, 11th) in which Piaf lived for a year in 1933. Now a private museum dedicated to the singer, the place allows you to discover her in complete privacy. In two rooms, the memories are exposed: one of her famous little black dresses, the soft toys offered by her last husband, a pair of Marcel Cerdan’s boxing gloves, the excerpt from her correspondence, photos of the singer, her stage shoes, size 34…