Legendary French singer Edith Piaf may have died almost 60 years ago, but her spirit lives on in Paris.
In fact, her spirit is very strong indeed if you consider that she made a surprise guest appearance on The Earful Tower podcast today. You can listen to that piece of time portal magic below.
But as for the places in Paris to find her ghost, here comes the list.
1. The Edith Piaf Bar
Do you enjoy your Edith Piaf memorabilia with a glass of wine in hand? Then I’ve got good news for you! The Bar Edith Piaf in Belleville is overflowing with Piaf homages, which are plastered all over the bar’s walls. (The bar is pictured at the top of this page).
I visited this week and it’s a typical Parisian bistro filled with local residents. If you want to see inside (and a whole lot more from this list), I pinned my Instagram story here for you to see.
Address: 22 Rue de la Py, 75020 Paris
2. The Edith Piaf statue
Get ready folks, it’s time for a little controversy. In Belleville you can find a statue of Edith Piaf which isn’t… well, it’s not exactly flattering. It shows a rather blurry looking Edith reaching up to the heavens. And it caused a bit of a stir among the Parisians, many of whom wanted something a little more beautiful from the hands of the sculptor.
The sculptor, a Frenchwoman called Lisbeth Delisle, received hate mail about her work but was praised by others.
“A twisted and tortured body reaching for the sky does Edith perfect justice,” reads one response from a French writer. “She is on the cobblestones, at the level of the people. In fact, putting her on a marble pedestal would have been an insult to her, a woman who belonged to the common people and to the street…” Read more here (in French).
Make up your own mind when you see it for yourself, conveniently located at Place Edith Piaf, right outside the bar mentioned above. Bonus: There’s a much smaller statue of Edith on an electrics building on the other side of the square.
3. The Edith Piaf museum
This place is a bit of a mystery. You have to phone ahead and book a time to visit, and during the phone call the owner will give you the door codes to get in. He is a friendly-sounding man, but claims not to speak English.
How do I know all this? Why, I visited him this week. Follow me on Instagram if you want to see inside. The museum is in a private residence where Piaf once lived and features her china collection, gold and platinum records, dresses and shoes, photographs, fan letters, sheet music, posters, and recordings.
The museum doesn’t have a website, and the owner asked me not to share the address, just his phone number. Phone: 01 43 55 52 72. It costs €5 to get in.
4. Her alleged birthplace
Head to 72 rue de Belleville to see the doorway where Edith is said to have been born. Was she really born there, though? Probably not. But who cares, it’s a good story, and you can find the plaque above the door marking the spot and the occasion.
5. Her final resting place
Head deep into the Pere Lachaise cemetery to find Edith Piaf’s tombstone. It’s not that easy to find as it’s not as visually stunning as the graves of other iconic French singers (I’m looking at you, Dalida!) But check out the map at the entrance of the cemetery for directions, or just look for the grave with the most flowers and you’re there.
That’s it for now, I highly encourage you to listen to my interview with Edith, she was in a rather flirtatious mood if I do say so myself.
And, as always, if you’re enjoying this stuff, either tell a friend or jump on the Patreon train and become a member. This whole list about Edith Piaf was nothing but one page in the full scroll about Edith and her life. Sign up today and meet 550 other likeminded Francophile members 🙂
Here’s my favourite Edith Piaf song to round things off 🙂
And on a separate note, if you want to meet an Edith Piaf expert, check out Edith de Belleville who helped me out A LOT with today’s podcast episode. Find her website and tours here. And there she is, pictured below, in Belleville of course 🙂
That’ll do for now. If you enjoy these glimpses into the lives of Parisians from yesteryear, check out my interview with Ernest Hemingway here.