PARIS (Reuters) – France said goodbye to Charles Aznavour on Friday, demonstrating the late singer’s status as a national icon at a farewell attended by President Emmanuel Macron, his two predecessors and the leader of Armenia, country of Aznavour’s roots.
French President Emmanuel Macron stands behind the coffin of Charles Aznavour during a national tribute ceremony in Paris, France, October 5, 2018 Christophe Ena/Pool via REUTERS
Celebrities, among them the now-frail actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, attended the ceremony under clear blue skies for the singer-songwriter who died this week at 94.
Pallbearers carried Aznavour’s Tricolour-draped coffin into the courtyard at the Les Invalides military museum where Napoleon is buried in the heart of the French capital.
Aznavour, whose global reach was enhanced by his ability to sing in half a dozen languages, died at his villa in the village of Mouries, in the southern French Alpilles region, in the night of last Sunday to Monday.
Among his best-known songs – he sold upwards of 100 million records – were ”Hier Encore” (Yesterday When I Was Young), ”Apres l’Amour” (After Love) and ”La Boheme”. Others of anthem-status included “She” and “Formidable”.
Aznavour, born in Paris on May 22, 1924, to Armenian parents – his birth name Shahnour Aznavourian – grew up on the Left Bank of Paris and began performing at the age of nine.
His first public performances were at Armenian gatherings where his father and older sister Aida sang while he danced.
He broke from the shadows penning songs for Edith Piaf in the years after World War Two, and later brought rapt audiences to their feet at venues as far away as New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Macron, due to go on an official visit next week to Armenia that Aznavour had hoped to attend, stood side-by-side with Armenia’s leaders for a ceremony that began with an army band rendition of Armenia’s national anthem, then France’s.
Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Peter Graff