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Dalida in Montmartre

One of France's most celebrated singers is remembered with a tomb in Montmartre Cemetery, a public square, and a fan-polished bronze bust.

Dalida statue in Montmartre

ABOVE: The attentions of Dalida's adoring fans have brought a shine to her bronze likeness in the Place Dalida.

In Paris, cemeteries and modern celebrities go hand in hand. Père Lachaise attracts fans of Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, and James Morrison. Montparnasse has Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean Seberg. The suburban Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-sur-Seine has the tomb of Barry (the St. Bernard who saved 41 lives). But only Montmartre can claim to be the permanent home of Dalida, a Paris-based singer and cult figure who sold 170 million albums over a 31-year period that ended with her death in 1987 at the age of 54.

Dalida, sometimes called "the queen of French chanson," had a remarkably eclectic career. At the age of 21, the Cairo native was voted Miss Egypt. Her pageant title led to movie roles and a move to Paris. When her French acting career stalled, she switched to singing and landed a recording contract in 1956.

Over the next three decades, Dalida recorded and performed everything from chanson to disco, earning 70 gold records. She was an international phenomenon, recording in at least seven languages and performing on stages around the world.

Dalida will forever be associated with Montmartre, where she had a house at 118 Rue d'Orchampt in the 18th arrondissement. (The small street is just below Rue Lepic, uphill from from the Abbesses Métro station.)

In 1996, the city of Paris named a square after Dalida. The Place Dalida features a bronze bust of the singer whose bosom has been burnished to a glow by years of fondling from her fans.


BELOW: The tomb of Dalida (the one with the white statue) is in Division 18 of Montmartre Cemetery, near the Rue Caulaincourt bridge in the cemetery's southeastern corner. Look for the grave with flowers and a white statue of the famous chanteuse.

Montmartre Cemetery, Tombe de Dalida

Tomb of Dalida, Montmartre Cemetery

BELOW: The tomb's statue shows Dalida in the prime of her beauty and career.

Dalida statue, Tombe de Dalida, Montmartre

BELOW: Next to the tomb is a mailbox where fans can leave their belated condolences.

Mailbox at Tomb of Dalida

BELOW: A tiny square in central Montmarte was renamed "Place Dalida" in 1996.

Place Dalida sign, Montmartre, Paris

BELOW: Dalida fans and selfie photographers make pilgrimages to the Place Dalida, which features a bronze bust of the late singer.

Tourists in Place Dalida, Paris

BELOW: Laying hands on the statue's bosom may seem pervy, but the evidence suggests that familiarity outshines inhibitions.

Polished breasts of Dalida sculpture, Montmartre

Reaching Dalida's tomb and the Place Dalida:

The Cimitière de Montmartre is on the western edge of the neighborhood. (The Rue Coulaincourt crosses the cemetery on a bridge.)

Take the Métro to Place de Clichy (Lines 2, 13), Blanche (Line 2), or Abbesses (Line 12) and walk a short distance to the cemetery's main entrance at 20 Avenue Rachel. Once you're inside the gates, take a map from the rack and find your way to Division 18.

After visiting the Tombe de Dalida, use your phone or printed Paris map to find the Place Dalida. It's located at the junction of Rue de l'Abreuvoir and Rue Girardon, roughly a block west of the Montmartre Vineyards on the north slope of the Butte or hill of Montmartre.

Related Web links:

Wikipedia: Dalida
The free encyclopedia has a detailed and illustrated biography of the singer. Also see Wikipedia's Place Dalida article, which includes a map.

YouTube: Dalida
Browse dozens of Dalida videos that range from concert appearances to album excerpts.

More about Montmartre:
Hotels in Montmartre
Basilica of Sacré-Coeur
Montmartre Funicular
Marché Saint-Pierre
Erotic Museum
Paris Scams: 'String Men' of Sacré-Coeur

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Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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