Before the homage to the “national treasure” Jean-Paul Belmondo, who are the artists or writers in France who have been entitled to resounding national or popular tributes?

Before his funeral scheduled for Friday morning in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, a national tribute will be paid Thursday afternoon at the Invalides to actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who died Monday, September 6 at the age of 88. From the grandiose funeral of Victor Hugo to the funeral in music for Johnny Hallyday, the farewells to the great French personalities in the world of culture have often given rise to outbursts of popular fervor, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people. Back on the most striking.

Victor Hugo, who died on May 22, 1885, was the first writer to benefit from national funerals until then reserved for the highest figures of the State. On May 31, his coffin was placed under the Arc de Triomphe. The procession, which on June 1 brings his remains from the Champs-Elysées to the Pantheon, is followed by two million people, reports the press. Pierre Loti, Maurice Barrès, Paul Valéry, Colette and Aimé Césaire also had the right to national funerals.

“Les Funérailles de Victor Hugo”, woodcut, anonymous, 1885. (AGLILEO COLLECTION / AGLILEO / AURIMAGES VIA AFP)

Edith Piaf was not entitled to a national homage, because of her private life considered dissolved by the Church. This did not prevent the people of Paris from accompanying the “kid” with fervor to her last home, October 14, 1963. The funeral convoy, which left her home on Boulevard Lannes in the 16th arrondissement of Paris to Père Lachaise , was followed by 500,000 people. At least 40,000 then came to pay their last respects to the cemetery.

Edith Piaf’s funeral convoy surrounded by crowds at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, October 14, 1963. (AFP)

On November 17, 1976, Jean Gabin’s coffin was exhibited in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, before its cremation. “As at the show, pushing each other, hurrying to see better, a considerable crowd, impossible to quantify”, invades all the alleys of the cemetery, “not wanting to leave the surroundings of the crematorium, even once the coffin has been removed”, says the ‘AFP.

Both queen of the stage and resistance, Joséphine Baker is one of the rare personalities of the music hall to have had the right to a national funeral on her death in 1975, in the presence of 12,000 people. A funeral convoy had crossed the streets of Paris, with a stop in front of the famous Bobino music hall, in the Montparnasse district, before a religious service in the church of the Madeleine. More than 46 years after her death, she will enter the Pantheon on November 30.

Joséphine Baker’s funeral convoy had stopped in front of the famous Bobino music hall, in the Montparnasse district, where she before played shortly before her death on April 12, 1975 in Paris. (AFP)

On April 19, 1980, the remains of the writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre were taken to the Montparnasse cemetery, along the main avenues of the 14th arrondissement. The funeral procession is followed by a crowd which continues to grow, reaching 50,000 people, many of them young. A few policemen in white gloves surround the hearse; the crowd is silent and collected.

The crowd at the funeral of the writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, at the Montparnasse cemetery, April 19, 1980. (GEORGES BENDRIHEM / AFP)

On December 9, 2017, a “popular tribute” was set up to say goodbye to “the idol of young people”. He is marked by the emotion and the tears of nearly a million fans massed outside the Church of the Madeleine.

“Johnny! Johnny! Johnny!”, Shouted at the top of the lungs by the crowd, had welcomed the arrival of the coffin, which had just descended in music on the Champs-Elysées, escorted by some 700 “bikers”.

On December 9, 2017, a compact crowd came to honor the memory of Johnny Hallyday, during the popular tribute organized at La Madeleine (Paris). (THIBAULT CAMUS / POOL / AFP)

The “French Sinatra”, who died on October 1, 2018, was entitled to a national tribute a few days later in the presence of many personalities. His coffin, carried in the courtyard of the Invalides to the sound of traditional Armenian music, came out to the sound of Take me away, one of his most famous songs.

At the same time, thousands of anonymous people who wished to salute the memory of the singer who marked several generations, other ceremonies had been organized in France, from Cannes to Marseille. Jean-Paul Belmondo was present at the Invalides for the tribute ceremony to his “lifelong friend” Charles Aznavour, whom he then described as a “formidable man”.

The national tribute ceremony to Charles Aznavour in the courtyard of Les Invalides, chaired by President Emmanuel Macron, on October 5, 2018 (THOMAS PADILLA / MAXPPP)

Without being the subject of national ceremonies, Claude François, Serge Gainsbourg, Yves Montand or Coluche also had funerals attracting a large crowd.

“Breathless”, “The Man from Rio”, or even “A monkey in winter”: return on the career of Jean-Paul Belmondo in 12 cult films

Death of Jean-Paul Belmondo: how will the national tribute scheduled for Thursday at the Invalides unfold?

Alain Delon says he is “completely devastated” by the death of his friend and rival Jean-Paul Belmondo

Every day, Franceinfo selects content from European public audiovisual media, members of Eurovision. These contents are published in English or French.

Related title :
Before Jean-Paul Belmondo, the tributes to the giants of culture, from Victor Hugo to Aznavour
From Victor Hugo to Belmondo, the tributes and funerals of the giants of culture
In front of Jean-Paul Belmondo pays homage to the giants of culture, from Victor Hugo to Aznavour.