What was your first contact with the Avenue Montaigne?
I came to Paris in the 1960’s from Toulon. I was looking for a place to live, and happened to meet a man I knew from Toulon. He said “Listen, I have a friend, a countess, Madame de Montaigu, who might have a room for you to rent.” And Madame de Montaigu did, in fact, have a very lovely room that she rented to me at number 53 Avenue Montaigne, on the 3rd floor of the building in the back courtyard. I didn’t have a lot to eat since I was a young actress and my family didn’t have the means to support me. But I lived on Avenue Montaigne and I was very happy. Since then, I have always had a very joyful attachment to the Avenue Montaigne!
What was life like then in the sixties?
There were many little shops. There were little groceries and even a fish monger on a neighboring street. There was a bakery just after Chanel right on the avenue and, next door, a pharmacy. There were butcher shops a little further on. For bookstores, we had to cross the Champs-Elysées. On Avenue Montaigne, all of these sites were progressively taken over by fashion boutiques. But that doesn’t bother me, it encourages me to go elsewhere to find the best bread at my favorite boulangerie, the best vegetables, etc….I’ve reconciled myself to the idea that it’s very good to have no food
shops on the Avenue Montaigne!
Where did you go out in the evening when you were in the neighborhood?
I was a regular at the Bar des Théatres, where there were a lot of actors, and not just those who played at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées. Many artistes and actors came here after their performances elsewhere. The waiters were always the same, they knew us and knew what we liked. I was often at the Plaza Athénée. When I lived with Alain Delon, we had many American friends and we met them in the restaurants here.
Have you always lived on Avenue Montaigne?
No, not at all. Later, I moved to Boulogne, on Quai Kennedy on the banks of the Seine. I also lived on Rue François 1er with Alain Delon. And finally, I came back to the Avenue Montaigne about twelve years ago. It was thanks to Anne-Marie Périer, who decided to leave her apartment here to live with Michel Sardou. When she left she said “Why don’t
you take it over…” You have always had a privileged relationship with
fashion designers. One of my great friends was Guy Laroche, who was near the theatre, where I spent a great deal of my time with him. I’ve always been interested in fashion. Courrèges was the first designer I used, then Yves Saint Laurent, who was
not in the neighborhood. Then Guy Laroche, who created the dress that everyone talked so much about: the dress with the plunging back-line in the film Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire. I donated it to the Louvre museum a few years ago.
Have you been in films shot on the Avenue Montaigne?
No, sadly I never have! But I did work in one shot very nearby at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées, the film Les Distractions, with Jean-Paul Belmondo. It was a very small part: I was one of three models, whose role consisted of opening our coats and showing our bustiers and garters. I have never played at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées either, but I have played nearby at the Marigny theatre in Sur la route de Madison with Alain Delon three years ago.
Decades have gone by and you still love the Avenue Montaigne…
I find this avenue phenomenal. I don’t feel like I’m in Paris, I’m in New York, or elsewhere, on vacation. Most of the people you run into here are speaking foreign languages and then there are all the shop windows, the limousines and chauffeurs. I particularly love springtime when the chestnut trees are in bloom. Here, the chestnut trees have red flowers, like the lights at Christmas!