IN PICTURES: France stages national tribute to film icon Belmondo

IN PICTURES: France stages national tribute to film icon Belmondo
President Macron reviews members of the French Republican Guard. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.
Thousands turned out on Thursday in Paris to honour Jean-Paul Belmondo, who helped define French identity for six decades, with President Emmanuel Macron offering an emotional farewell to the film icon who died this week aged 88.

France has been cast into mourning by the death of Belmondo, a legend of New Wave cinema and action films.

“We love Belmondo because he looked like us,” Macron said at a ceremony at Les Invalides in Paris. “Dear Jean-Paul, to lose you is to lose a part of us.”

Emmanuel Macron stands in front of the coffin of late French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. Photo: Ian LANGSDON / POOL / AFP.

It was a rare honour for an actor, setting him alongside the leading statesmen and artists of French history. The last time such a homage was staged was for former president Jacques Chirac in 2019.

Among the celebrities, politicians and sports stars in attendance for the ceremony were some of his successors on the French screen, Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin.

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Belmondo’s relatives follow his coffin carried by French Republican guards at the end of the national tribute ceremony. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Thousands more gathered outside to watch on giant screens set up for the occasion, and later queued to walk past the coffin, draped in the tricolour flag.

“It’s important for me to be here,” said 66-year retiree Brigitte Ratou, one of the first to arrive on Thursday. “It’s like saying goodbye to an old companion, someone who has been there since my adolescence.”

Many famous figures attended the ceremony, including actor Jean Dujardin and his wife, ice dancer Nathalie Pechalat, and TV host Michel Drucker. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Another fan, 52-year-old civil servant Denis Vandevyvere, had travelled from Belgium to pay his respects to his hero. “He was great gentleman,” said Vandevyvere, who has collected 2,500 pieces of memorabilia linked to Belmondo, known simply as “Bebel” in the francophone world.

The funeral will take place with close family on Friday.

A fan waves a national flag which reads “Bebel The Wonderful, Thank you Artist!” outside the Hotel des Invalides. Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

Belmondo first came to fame as part of the New Wave cinema movement with films like “Breathless” and “Pierrot Le Fou” by Jean-Luc Godard that helped define French cool in the international imagination. He went on to become a household name, acting in 80 films covering a multitude of genres, including comedies and thrillers.

People wait to pay their respects. Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

Belmondo was also often called “Le Magnifique” (The Magnificent), after a 1970s secret agent satire in which he starred.

At the Deauville festival of American cinema, currently taking place in the northern Calvados region, veteran director Claude Lelouch led a tribute to the star.

People pay their respects to late French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo as they stand in front of his coffin at the end of the national tribute ceremony . Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

“If there was one thing he loved, it was standing ovations,” said 83-year-old Lelouch at the premiere of his new film.

“So we’re going to give him a standing ovation. This one’s for you, Jean-Paul!”


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