Actress, singer and muse – with a British accent.
Her appearances in Blow Up (1966) by Antonioni, her audacious debut in Slogan (1969) by Pierre Grimblat, with Serge Gainsbourg, have marked us forever. And we always go back to the old vinyl’s of her whispering voice singing songs that Gainsbourg wrote for her. Since, we never get tired of listening to the delicious accent of Jane, the most Parisian of all the English, who inspired such an elegant bag, the Birkin, by Hermès, all while wearing jeans and sneakers with style.
I arrived in Paris at age 16, boulevard Lannes, in 1965. I lived with the countess Pouget. Édith Piaf lived on the ground floor and when she passed away, I had to show my identity card just to get in my home. I heard someone say to the police once “But it’s Françoise Hardy!” French people wear a quilted sac with a chain strap, a knotted scarf, imitation Hermès, a velour headband, a Bordeaux matching set, a Scottish past-the-knee skirt and white stockings. These French had a great contempt for me; I was so badly dressed in a denim miniskirt and shiny red heels! Paris, it was the freedom to do what I wanted, it was a loophole. I spent hours chatting in café: it was the opposite of pubs and of Swinging London.
With Serge, we went out every night to clubs, to Régine or to New Jimmy’s. I lived at L’Hotel (13 rue des Beaux-Arts, Tel. 01 44 41 99 00). Serge and I tried out all the rooms; it was brilliant. When I left Serge, I slept on a camp bed at 5 bis rue de Varenne. Then, I found myself in the in a real house at 28 rue de la Tour, with 4 floors. We lived just next to the Bois de Boulogne that I know now by heart, up to the dead leaves. Jacques (Doillon, director) liked to ride her bike in the woods. We had bought bikes with Kate, Charlotte, Lola and Lou. With Charlotte, we would instead go to the Tuileries.
I had never liked the Luxembourg gardens, which are very beautiful but we were whistled at when we walked on the lawn. It felt like we were doing something stupid. Betty, my bulldog, loved the Trocadéro garden that is a little strange. Life was happy with Jacques and the kids, we were always on the move. When Jacques left, I stopped changing the lightbulbs. I knew Olivier (Rollin, author) in Sarajevo. It was a big sacrifice to leave my house that I sold voluntarily. So I bought one across from Olivier, rue Jacob, and put up the same curtains, the same things, like I had never left my house. I always redecorate my houses in the same way. Today, I’m in the with the same flooring, the same décor, with Braconnier on the walls, but without the wooden bathtub that I left unwillingly on rue de la Tour.
Addresses of Jane Birkin
Marco Polo, rue de Condé, Tel. 01 43 26 79 63
“Albano”, the nickname given to him by Marcello Mastroiani, takes care of you. He is always sweet, and there are always plenty of Italian actors around. I love getting a coffee with him. I also love his three-crème ravioli and his vegetables covered in just olive oil. I go there between two movie showings in one of the 9 theatres of Odéon ().
La Grande mosquée de Paris. 2 bis places du Puits-de-l’Ermite, ; Tel. 01 45 35 97 33
I can’t resist their honey cake! Their restaurant is also delightful for tagines. During winter, it’s less nice. I would bring Lou there, from the arrondissement, because the trip is worth it. But watch out for wasps!