Paris : Legendary locations in La Vie en Rose
In 1961, while her polyarthritis is becoming more and more of a handicap, Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard) was a triumphal success at the Olympia, in a packed theater of enthusiastic fans. The mythical Parisian concert hall was at the time in financial difficulty. As we mention in our Guide Paris of 1000 cult movies, series, musics, comics and novels locations, the songstress performed following a request by her friend Bruno Coquatrix, general manager of the hall from 1954 to 1979, and saved the Olympia from bankruptcy. For four months, the singer gave a series of concerts considered some of her greatest. It was at this time she sang on stage her legendary song Non, je regretted rien (No regrets)
A small plaque on the building is a reminder that the songstress lived her last ten years at this address. It’s in this building that the songwriter-composer Charles Dumont (Mario Hacquard) presented her with the song Non, je regrette rien (No regrets), written with Michel Vaucaire. This boulevard was baptized in reference to Field Marshal Jean Lannes (1769-1809) whose other name, Duc de Montebello, has been given to a port and a quay in the capital.
Even though in the film we see Edith Piaf and her friends at a table in this famous Parisian brasserie, the singer was a true regular and even had her personal table: number 24. The history of this establishment goes back a long way even before the opening in 1903, because on the same site, as of 1787, there was the Cheval Blanc Auberge (Cheval Blanc Inn) which in the 19th century became the first concert-café in the capital.
While singing in the streets, she was spotted in 1935 by Louis Leplée (Gérard Depardieu). He was manager of Le Gemmy’s and proposed to the singer to perform there. The man becomes her mentor. He decides on her stage name: “"la Môme Piaf"(The Little Sparrow). She was only supposed to sing for a week in the cabaret but she triumphed for seven months. However, everything was brutally interrupted by the murder, while he was in his bed, of Louis Leplée. The building dates from 1900-1901 and displays ornamental motifs evoking the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Edith and Momone run down these stairs in Montmartre, filmed to look like those in Belleville old town, no longer existing today. The steep stairs are an integral part of Montmartre’s identity.
20 years old, Edith Piaf only wanted to sing. She does just that in this street of the Belleville quarter accompanied by Momone (Sylvie Testud). The latter picks up the coins tossed by passers-by listening to the songstress. Just a few steps from rue Lepic, this little street is very typical of Montmartre. This quarter was chosen by the production team in order to mimic Belleville of the period. In the middle of the Abbesses square, in the heart of Montmartre, is the second metro station which has kept its Guimard awning.
Before performing in this hall, Edith lets a young soldier sing her a song of his own composition. It happened to be L'Accordéoniste and this song will be one of her greatest hits. Since 1873, Bobino has experienced impressive growth. At first a Ginguette (an outdoor bar-dance hall), then a concert-café and show hall, the establishment closed its doors in 1984 and was totally demolished in 1985. In 1991, a new version opened up on the same site but wasn’t able to attract a wide enough public and the adventure came to an end in 2009. It’s only since 2010, and extensive renovation work to increase the capacity to 900 spectators, that Bobino seems finally to reconnect with its glorious past.
Among the few Parisian streets filmed with the existing decor, the rue Ravignon is the setting for Edith and Momone’s walk. The majority of the other scenes in this feature film by Olivier Dahan were shot in Prague, reputed for resembling Paris of the early 20th century.
Deceased October 10th, 1963, Edith Piaf is buried in this famous Parisian cemetery where more than 40,000 people came to pay their final respects. It is estimated that about 500,000 people lined the passage of the funeral procession. The most visited necropolis in the capital, the Père-Lachaise cemetery is known worldwide. There are 77,000 burial places and 3.5 million visitors every year. It was created in 1803 by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, the same architect as the Palais de la Bourse (Stock Exchange).
Inaugurated in 1978, this square pays homage to Edith Piaf, born just a few meters away in the Tenon hospital. A statue was erected in the square in 2003, to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Edith Giovanna Gassion, aka Edith Piaf, child of the Paris streets.