boite à outils

A meeting with Brigitte Fontaine

Eccentric, provocative, Brigitte Fontaine is an artist of many talents. Whether you love her or hate her, she’s sure to provile a strong reaction.

Originally from Morlaix, Brigitte often returns for a visit. We met up with her one Saturday in winter at the Brasserie de l’Europe, where she often stops by. She has just given a concert neary and was praying for snow so that she could stay a few more days in Morlaix…

Brigitte Fontaine, Morlaix

A bit of background

Born in 1939, Brigitte grew up in Plouyé then Morlaix. Aged 17, she left for Paris to try life in the theatre. In the early 1960s, she started to do more and more singing. It was also around this time that she had two meetings that were to affect her future dramatically - one with Jacques Higelin and another with Areski Belkacem, a musician who was to become her husband. With them, she had a succession of albums, shows and performances.
An artist that defies being pigeonholed, known for her media presence and often seen as disturbing, Brigitte’s career has seen many ups and downs. Finally in the 1990s she gained a wider recognition, both with the public and with critics.
Highly productive, she surrounds herself with the best and is apparently far from ready to call it a day! She brought out two new albums in 2009 and 2011, various novels and poetry collections, made a film in 2012, and still has several dates lined up for shows…

Place des Otages, Morlaix, Finistère, Bretagne

Brigitte Fontaine and Morlaix

Brigitte confided in us that she loves her hometown more and more. She even has dreams of settling here for good - one day.
From her childhood in the école Gambetta, where her parents were teachers, she has some wonderful memories, recalling the gardens, vegetable plot and orchards that she evokes in her texts (« Les Vergers », meaning ’The Orchards’, is below).
In the magnificent décor of the Italianate Theatre she confirmed her love of words and of staging. Those who know her work know what came next!
If Brigitte loves Morlaix, it’s thanks to the charm that the town has retained through the years; she loves the locals and among them counts some of her dearest friends.

Viaduc, Morlaix, Finistère, Bretagne

« Les Vergers »

Tous les jours à midi on rassasie les saints
Le soleil amoureux exerce sa violence
Des ruisseaux de mercure envahissent les mains
Et des oiseaux dorés meurent dans le silence.

Nous sommes tous ici pour pleurer et sourire
Nous sommes tous ici pour choisir nos prisons
Nous sommes tous ici pour tuer nos délires
Nous sommes tous ici pour mourir de raison.

J’aimais trop les vergers lorsque j’avais trois ans
Un jour il y a eu quelqu’un ou quelque chose
Un passant qui a dit quelques mots en passant
Un soldat enterré sous le buisson de roses.

Il ne faut pas pleurer disait l’araignée noire
Et elle consolait les enfants affligés
À l’heure où le soleil descendait pour nous boire
À l’heure où je te parle à l’heure des vergers.

Sommes-nous tous ici pour pleurer et sourire
Sommes-nous tous ici pour choisir nos prisons
Sommes-nous tous ici pour tuer nos délires
Sommes-nous tous ici pour mourir de raison.

« Breizh »,
taken from ’Mot pour mot’, a collection of songs and poems, published in 2011

« Calme plat au coeur de la mer
les sirènes celtiques ont l’air
de Virginales fées de fer
Mon sang bat dans l’eau et l’air
Et mon amour va jusqu’aux monts
[...]
La ville à midi sent le beurre
Chauffant dans toute les demeures
les goélands rient sur l’ardoise
Le grès la dentelle l’armoise ... »

Photo copyright: Brigitte Fontaine / Claude Gassian