France bids farewell to its favorite Englishwoman, Jane Birkin

Stars and many anonymous people turned out to say goodbye to Jane Birkin, a “former fan of the Sixties”, as she sang during her funeral procession at Paris’ Saint-Roch church on Monday.

The ceremony took place in the presence of her daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, who unusually carried their mother’s coffin as they entered the church.

Many celebrities were also present: Etienne Dahou, Carole Bouquet, Catherine Deneuve, Yvan Atal, Chiara Mastroianni or Isabelle Huppert, who were welcomed by the artist’s manager.

Brigitte Macron and the Minister of Culture, Reema Abdul Malak, also took their places in the church, whose forecourt was covered with flowers, testifying to the national upheaval triggered by the singer and actress’s disappearance last Sunday at the age of 76.

Jane Birkin’s daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, carry their mother’s coffin as they enter Saint-Roch church in Paris (AFP – Julien de Rosa)

“I can already see the emptiness she has left between us. She is my mother, our mother. Your mother,” read Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was very emotional, as more than 1,500 people gathered in front of large screens near the church cried anonymously, according to an AFP journalist. Entrance to the church was reserved for the party.

– audacity –

Lou Doillon recalled the many moments he shared with his mother and her entire family, all testifying to the eccentricity, audacity and humor of the French’s favorite Englishwoman. She concluded: “Mother, (…) thank you for not being normal, reasonable and polite. This world of yesterday, so peaceful and rational, it already bothers me”.

The one-and-a-half-hour ceremony was celebrated according to the Anglican Rite and punctuated by touching tributes, including a tribute to the doctor who had nursed her through leukemia. The coffin was then taken away amid the applause of the public to the sound of “La Javanese”.

Jane Bikin, a Londoner who naturally adapted to French but remained English in the collective unconscious due to her tasteful pronunciation mistakes, was part of the scene for more than half a century and met Serge Gainsbourg in the late 1960s.

“Without her, we lack illumination, I applaud this committed female artist able to sympathize with essential causes”, commented Jean-Baptiste, who arrived from Burgundy with signs “Thank you Jane Birkin” and “Jane Forever”.

“After the assassination of Mahsa Amini in Iran, we have come to pay tribute to her by chopping her hair, who supported us from the beginning”, said Mahsti, in her fifties. “Thank you Jane, Iranian women will not forget you”.

Serge Quinn, 60, commented, “She’s one of those stars who broadcast freedom.” “His smile is an era and a generation that has given us this spontaneity,” said Boochra, 50.

“One day I saw her at the Odeon, I ran up to her and told her I loved her! She gave me a kiss and wished me a happy new year,” said Christophe Fougere, 45, who has “been in love with Jane since childhood” and whose music he loves as much as films.

– “Icon” –

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 1976 in Cannes.  (AFP/Archive - -)
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 1976 in Cannes. (AFP/Archive – -)

“My Jane, thank you for your talent, your elegant independent beauty, your sharp, poignant and British humour, you accompanied our sad adolescence. We wanted to be you, or Serge”, wrote singer Etienne Daho in his tribute, who became a close friend, collaborator on the singer’s latest album “Oh! Pardon tu dormais…”.

“The party will be attended by your Serge, Romy and everyone else… another angel… thank you, thank you, Mary Jane!”, he responded on Monday in a message sent to AFP Alain Delon, who filmed with him at “La Piscine”.

“Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon”, she also congratulated President Macron on Twitter.

Since the artist was found dead in his Paris home, admirers, sometimes with bouquets of flowers, flocked to 5 bis rue Verneuil in Paris. The place where she lived with Serge Gainsbourg, when the couple embodied the union of chic and shock with the smell of scandal.

Flowers were also hung on the fence around the ‘Pool’ actress’ home in Brittany. There was also a ceremony in Llanellis (Finistère) at the same time on Monday, where she likes to recharge her batteries.

The disappearance of the “Dee Doo Dah” and “Dessus Chic” singer, who according to those around her died of natural causes, comes just as Jane Birkin was planning to return to the stage.


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