The Little Sparrow: Walk in the Footsteps of Edith Piaf

The Little Sparrow: Walk in the Footsteps of Edith Piaf


When Edith Piaf comes to mind, I think about her passion, her determination, the carefree spirit of her younger days, and this undying spirit of constantly seeking greatness. Her life story is no doubt one of the most classical rags to riches stories out there! But yet, it is also one that I hold so close to my heart.

Read on to find out where you can go to relive The Little Sparrow's journey to stardom. To discover more about Edith's home and district in Paris join local Allison who is an expert on Paris' 20th district, after following in Edith's footsteps you can eat some must try french food in Allison's home based restaurant in Paris!

For all the global fame she achieved – that distinctive potent voice, soused in 3am smokiness; ballads like “La Vie En Rose” and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” – she was very much a figure whose tale was pinned to the French capital.

Edith was born in a doorway at 72 rue de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement on the 19th of December 1915 , 7 days before christmas! She might have just been the gift sent down from heaven! Above the worn out marble doorstep is a plague that reads, ''dont la voix, plus tard, devait bouleverser le monde'' which says how her voice would go on to move the world. Edith did not just go on to move the world with her voice, but brought inspiration to many and continues to do so even today. 

How her singing career started was when she was touring the country with her father. He was a contortionist working for the circus that later went on to street performance. The story goes that one day Edith’s dad pushed his young daughter, Edith, to the front of the crowd and said ‘PERFORM’ and that was when she started singing as the audience looked at her in awe. At that moment, Edith found within her this immediate passion for singing not just for survival but because her voice was being heard. 

Hold me close
and hold me fast 
this magic spell you cast 
this is La Vie En Rose 
— Edith Piaf – La Vien En Rose 

One of the first few cafes that Edith sang in was the Aux Folies, which is still around today! She sang at Aux Folies in between performing as a street musician with her father. You can head over there for a breakfast and sit on their terrace soaking in the morning Paris air.

Here is the address: 8 rue de Belleville, 75020, +33 6 14 17 91 33, Open daily 7am-2am

As she started singing, Edith and her best friend Simone ‘’Momone’’ Berteaut, earned enough to take a room at the Grand Hotel de Clermont, at 18 Rue Veron on Montmartre’s lower slopes which is still there today. It was a place where the both of them stayed for four years in cramped conditions! It should really be a sight to see for it is one of those structures that still retains remanents of the old gritty Paris – low ceilings and walls covered with fresco, paintings on ageless walls and jazz bars just around the corners. 

"I was hungry. I was cold. But I was also free. Free not to get up in the morning, not to go to bed at night, free to get drunk if I liked, to dream… to hope." — Edith Piaf 

But her career really took off when Edith was singing along the street one day and Louis Leplée' found her (1935). He then invited her to take singing classes and after which put her on stage to sing to rooms full of people. Edith then obtained her famous moniker: The Little Sparrow. Visit what used to be Louis Leplée's cabaret, Le Gerny's, at 54, rue pierre charron, in the 8th arrondissement

The next place to visit would be the Metro Porte de Bagnolet, a square that was named after Edith in 1978. It was redeveloped in 2003, to mark the fortieth anniversary of her death, and now you can see a statue of Edith which was erected in the square. 

To sing is to bring to life; impossible if the words are mediocre, however good the music — Edith Piaf

After which make your way down to the Edith Piaf Museum. It used to be a tiny flat where she once lived in and was turned into a museum run by Bernard Marchois who has been a longtime fan of Edith. It is only open three days a week (Monday to Wednesday) from 1pm to 6pm and you need to call before you come! The museum is marked only by a small plaque: Les Amis d’Edith Piaf, with the advisory that it’s only by appointment; the telephone number is below.  The walls of the museum are dressed with photos and portraits of the singer and there are life sized cut outs of the diminutive singer, the boxing gloves of the famous Marcel and many more! It is definitely a must visit! 

Next up, is the Moulin Rougue where in 1944, Edith met Ivo Livi who turned out to be one of her great lovers and used to sing at her shows. (he was also romantically involved with other high profile celebrities such as Simone Signoret and Marilyn Monroe). The Mounlin Rouge is known as a cabaret that was founded and built in 1889 and ever since then it has been coined the modern birthplace of can-can which is a seductive dance which then later turned into a form of entertainment. Today, it still retains its antiquity and atmosphere for a place of entertainment for guest all of over the world. This is an absolute must-see and must-go… book a reservation and be ready to be blown off your feet. 

My troubles, my pleasures
I don't need them anymore
Swept away my past loves
With their tremors
Swept away for always
I start again from zero
— Edith Piaf – Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

By now, you should be feeling hungry! Opposite the Moulin Rougue between the supermarket and the steakhouse restaurant take the rue Pierre-Fontaine, until you get to the rue Mansart. You will be able to see A la Cloche D’Or. This was the restaurant where Edith used to dine with Marcel Cerdan. 

For those of you who have watched the movie La Vien En Rose, Edith Piaf's biopic starring Marion Cotillard (who received an oscar award for her performance), this next destination should strike a cord with you. The scene where Edith wrote a song for her lover, Marcel after getting the news of his tragic plane crash and wanted to so badly sing it for everyone to hear but did not make it to the end of the song and collapsed on the stage. L’Olympia, the legendary concert hall built in 1893 and has since then served as a theatre, cinema and concert hall that was launched in 1954, was where Edith was invited to sing on the stage. 

When he takes me in his arms, and speaks to me softly, I see the world through rose-colored glasses. — Edith Piaf 

 After Marcel's death, Edith went spiralling into a hole of alcohol and drugs. The last placed where she lived was at 67 boulevard Lannes, the 16th arrondissement. It was in that exact house, on the first floor where she wrote the song Je ne regrette rien in 1960. 

Last but not least, her resting place. Edith passed away on the 10th October 1963 in Grasse at the age of 47, but her death was officially announced on 11 October 1963 in Paris. She was buried a few days later, on the 14th of October together with her cuddly toy rabbit in the cemetary Père Lachaise, situated in the 20th arrondissement (the same arrondissement she was born in). Other "residents" of this feted Paris cemetery include – of course – Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Piaf lies in a plot which reads "Famille Gassion-Piaf" – alongside her infant daughter, her father and her second husband Theo Sarapo. The tomb is found in the south-east corner of the cemetery, on Transversale 3 – between Avenue Circulaire and Avenue Pacthod.

I want to make people cry even when they don't understand my words — Edith Piaf 

Image credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

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10 Movies Guaranteed to Get Your Taste Buds Tingling

10 Movies Guaranteed to Get Your Taste Buds Tingling

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ok so the plot might not actually be centred around food, but this visually beautiful film will definitely appeal to your sweet tooth. From the building of the Grand Budapest Hotel itself to the color of the sky, and everything in between, it will constantly make you ache for pastries and cakes as you try to focus on the plot. Not to mention, Mendl’s Courtesan Au Chocolat!

2. Julie and Julia

This movie is about two women who eventually find solace in cooking, and it will make your mouth water for French cuisine. The whole plot centres around the joy of cooking, eating, and living. Get ready to feel those hunger pangs. 

3. Chef

A word of warning: make sure you have eaten before you watch this movie. Saying that, we still guarantee you'll be lusting after a taste of scrumptious Mediterranean food. 'Chef' should be rated ‘PG Hungry'!

4. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This film is a delight for fish fans. The sushi in this movie is so tempting and the plot encaptivating as you watch the sushi hef master the serene art of sushi making.

5. Eat Pray Love

As if Julia Roberts alone isn’t enough to get you all tingly, this movie has both the beloved actress AND delicious Pizza Napolitana, Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, exotic Balinese fruits and more! You'll be heading straight to your nearest Italian once the credits roll.

6. Spirited Away

Another movie hailing from Japan in at number 6. This Ghibli Studio film, despite its somewhat surreal plot, is foodie heaven. You will spot a multitude of traditional Japanese food shown in this movie, and although the food is not real you still might lose track of the story as you sit drooling over the masterfully drawn food.

7. Marie Antoinette

Hold it! Your jaw is about to drop at these shots from cake heaven in this visually stunning film. Your eyes are about to be spoilt with not only gorgeous actors, dresses, and settings, but more importantly, CAKES!

8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Once Charlie enters the factory, everything you see is made of chocolate and other sweet treats; even the grass! So much chocolate! Here, take my money!

9. Ratatouille

This is the most famous movie among food lovers and critics. It's not hard to see why, plus the delightful plot of a rat winning over humans through his cooking expertise is guaranteed to make you smile.

10. It’s raining falafel in Israel

‘It’s raining falafel in Israel’ is a 3D comedy film for those who cannot get enough of those vegetarian-friendly balls. If you are watching this movie and feel your taste buds tingling for falafel, just give Operation Falafel Delivery Number a buzz at +971 4 424 3098 and enjoy the best spicy falafel at your door step.

Image credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

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Coffee Culture in Italy

Coffee Culture in Italy

Prendiamo un caffè?” (Fancy a coffee?)

It is a well-known fact that the Italians love their coffees. They have also invented a coffee culture that is unparalleled to any other place in the world.

The coffee drinking habits and culture of the Italians may not be easy for foreigners to understand (is it really odd to have a cappuccino or caffé latte during the afternoon?), but these habits are considered as the norm in Italy.

As the saying goes, when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Italy, drink coffee as the Italians do (this will save you from more than a few curious stares and raised eye brows!).

The Five Coffee Commandments

1. Do not order yourself a cappuccino, caffé latte, or any other milky variations of coffee after the morning has passed. The Italians cannot stomach the idea of consuming hot milk after having a full meal.

2. An espresso is the default cup of coffee you will get when you order yourself a serving in coffee places throughout the country. The term ‘espresso’ is not used – instead, locals place orders for their coffee with the term ‘un caffè’, which refers to a single espresso.

3. A single espresso may not look like much, but do not belittle this tiny cup of caffeine, for an Italian espresso is known to pack a powerful punch.

If you think you are in need of a huge jolt of energy, you may choose to order a double espresso (un caffè doppio). However, do note that this is uncommon among the locals. The Italians do drink ample amounts of coffee, but they usually consume them in small doses throughout the day.

4. Like your coffee strong, but want to have something other than an espresso? Order yourself a cup of caffè lungo, which is an espresso with hot water added to it. This beverage is less diluted compared to the caffè americano.

5. If you really cannot imagine having coffee without a single drop of milk, a cup of caffè macchiato will float your boat. This coffee, unlike the type of macchiato that is served in places outside of Italy, refers to an espresso containing a tiny froth of milk.

Enjoy your coffee the Italian way with our BonAppetour hosts, Francesca and Cristina! Even if you are not a fan of coffee, check out other BonAppetour dining experiences in Italy!

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