• France's news in English

French icon Juliette Greco begins final tour

AFP · 26 Apr 2015, 09:28

Published: 26 Apr 2015 09:28 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

As she embarks on the last tour of a more than six decade career that began in post-war Paris, iconic French singer Juliette Greco had some parting advice for young performers: "Learn to say no."

The 88-year-old star of "la chanson francaise", famed for her performances of texts penned by the likes of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and poet Jacques Prevert, began her farewell tour Friday at the Printemps de Bourges music festival.

Clad, as always, in a black dress, with her eyes rimmed with kohl, Greco opened the festival in central France.

The effort left her so drained she cut short her performance by two tracks.

At a press conference Saturday she insisted however that she was "well", and just a little tired the previous day after touring an exhibition devoted to her at the Bourges festival that left her feeling "overwhelmed".

Asked what spurred her to continue performing, the octogenarian style icon, who was a stalwart of the Left Bank Parisian scene of the 1950s and 60s, cited a lifelong passion "for the audience, for poets, writers and musicians".

"It's a very good motivation, it spares you a lot of horrible stuff, like, for example, singing a song you don't want to sing just for the money," said Greco, who had a long-running affair with jazz musician Miles Davis and counted Sartre and feminist author Simone de Beauvoir among her friends.

Young people, Greco said, should "know how to say no."

"From there on everything falls into place."

In an interview earlier in the week with AFP, the singer whose hits included the 'Jolie mome' (cute kid) by Leo Ferre and 'La javanaise' by Gainsbourg, was emphatic that this would be her last tour.

"I'm renouncing the thing that is dearest to me, which is essential for me, but I want to go with dignity and as much elegance as possible," said the woman whose gamine good looks were immortalised by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau.

"I won't want to leave diminished," Greco stressed. "Plus, I'm a woman...men are forgiven for ageing, not women."

The singer twice married actors, first Philippe Lemaire and then Michel Piccoli.

She will be accompanied by her third husband, pianist Gerard Jouannest, on her year-long tour which includes over 20 concerts in France and abroad.

Her next performance takes her to Tel Aviv on May 4th.

Story continues below…

The pro-Palestinian movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) had urged the singer, whose mother and older sister were deported from Nazi-occupied France during World War II for their role in the Resistance, to cancel her Israeli fixture.

In making the appeal, the BDS campaign recalled Greco's own "acts of resistance", including singing anti militarist songs at a concert in Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Greco, who has always prided herself on her independence, said she was including Israel out of a "duty to remember".

Furthermore, she told AFP: "It's important to go to places with which you have profound differences of opinion.

"You have to go everywhere, it would be cowardice not to do it."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
jobs available