Memories and melodies of Piaf fill Paris air
PARIS (AFP) - It's 50 years since she died and Paris still feels a bit more like Paris with Edith Piaf playing in the background.
It was hard not to hear that unmistakeable sound on Thursday as radio stations marked the anniversary by playing her most famous recordings, filling the capital's cafes and bistros with a throaty voice that has lost none of its power to move with the passage of time.
It was a day for remembering Piaf, the woman, as well as the performer, with hundreds of fans, including groups from Japan and Switzerland, making a pilgrimage to Belleville, the still down-at-heel Paris neighbourhood where she was born Edith Giovanna Gassain to a singer mother who was soon to abandon her.
On the front of 72 Rue de Belleville, there is a plaque that declares: "On the steps of this house Edith Piaf, whose voice would later move the entire world, was born into utter destitution on December 19, 1915." She was actually born in a hospital round the corner: the idea that Piaf literally entered the world via the streets of Paris was one of the many myths she cultivated about herself, most of which have been debunked by recent biographies.