He forced his father to look for a house that would be up to par. He wanted something close to Notre Dame, in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, beautiful, where he could create his own “palace”. The idea belonged not only to him, but to Brigitte Bardot, who told him that she needed “a place Arabian nights“where to live for his love. When he found a two-story building on rue de Verneuil, number 5, his French secretary had already called him and told him not to contact her again.

This refusal cost Serge Gainsbourg a very severe depression. But soon British Jane Birkin appeared on the scene, again driving the Frenchman, who had short cycles, crazy. She would be his company until the completion of what we know today as Maison Gainsbourg. The same one that was locked with a key in the hands of her daughter Charlotte for 30 years and which today, September 20, opens its doors. Lucky winners of one of the 15,000 tickets on sale last April will be allowed to enter six at a time and in 10-minute periods.

Facade of Serge Gainsbourg’s house. HOUSE GAINSBURG

The house was a place of pilgrimage even before Gainsbourg’s death. The French singer and actor had to put bars on the windows and even go to the hotel one evening so that fans and anyone else who rang the doorbell would not know who was inside. But everything exploded after he was found dead on March 2, 1991: since then, graffiti has been painted on its walls, flowers have been laid, and even when Jane Birkin died last July, it was here that bouquets were propped up and her songs were sung.

Charlotte, daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, at her father’s house. HOUSE GAINSBURG

The pressure to turn the place into more than a wall full of drawings and a closed door fell on Charlotte, who bought out the rest of her siblings and made the decision not to touch anything at all about the house in the past. , who spent most of his childhood. And when she was little, she and her sister Kate were so afraid to cross the road to go to the bathroom that they preferred to go to the garden.

With all the walls painted black, the dark ceiling, antique furniture, paintings, a Steinway piano, a Lowry organ, dozens of police badges, handcuffs, magazines, photographs, checkerboard floors… This house During his childhood, he had a fear of touching anything or break, and for the last three decades he was afraid to change his father’s soul.

As Felipe Cabrerizo, Birkin’s biographer, tells us in an article published in A country, his obsession led to the breakup of the family. Things became more complicated when he had to live first with Kate, Jane’s daughter, with John Barry, and then with Charlotte. “Not because of an obvious lack of space, but because Gainsbourg could not find an aesthetic solution to the problem of installing a crib in his sanctuary. he chose to hide it behind a portable room he found in an antique store. When Kate grew older and her legs slipped through the bars, Jane, tired of seeing her with a constant cold, demanded a bed. In no case. Her counter-suggestion is to make her sleep in socks,” she says.

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

Jane Birkin also commented on something, adding that instead of a cozy living room, as was the case in other houses, they had a museum. “Sitting on a chair, afraid of breaking something, I stayed in the kitchen or in my room,” she recalled. He also insisted on putting a giant chandelier in the bathroom, and given the inability to get inside, he had to buy a slightly smaller chandelier and place it above the bathtub. When he was warned about the danger of possible electric shock, he bathed with a silk sheet between his body and the ceramic, but did not consider replacing it and decided to buy a glass cover.

Moreover, Birkin asked him only one thing: to remove the life-size photographs of Bardot that decorated the stairs, and he decided to replace them, not with photographs of the British woman, but with Marilyn, perhaps because they reminded him more of her. There was everything: a sculpture with a cabbage on his head, two dolls with a figure of Gainsbourg, resting and resting in a chair, his gold records, magazine covers, photographs of Jane and the girls… And even Charlotte. decided to keep the food and tobacco she left behind on the night of her death.

“When my father died, I had a kind of aversion to mourning,” he explained to the magazine a few days ago. Vanity Fair and he admitted that the only thing he did was remove the mold in the kitchen, but kept jars, chocolate buns and even cigarette butts in ashtrays. “This is my house. I don’t know what it is: a salon, a music room, a brothel, a museum?” – Serge Gainsbourg said in an interview in 1979. And, perhaps, that was all.

Various photographs of a museum dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg and a bar opened under his name. HOUSE GAINSBURG

That’s why her daughter had such a hard time knowing what to do with her. He even thought about selling it, thought about a hotel or even a restaurant. “Everyone made my father theirs: there was this door that could be closed, where I could pay my respects, and I immediately thought about turning the house into a museum. I went to the ministries and the city council, but I didn’t. We have a very viable project,” he assured.

She even revealed that not too many years ago, architect Jean Nouvel offered her a solution because she was confused, thinking about everyone who entered her father’s house and how they might damage his items. The idea was to turn it into a piece of art of sorts, covered with a glass casing so that it could be seen from the outside without the danger of other people’s hands. But in the end, Charlotte didn’t finish watching and went back into the loop. “I told my husband we were going to move there and he told me he was joking,” she said.

Until he managed to channel it and buy numbers 16 and 14 on the same street, which are located in front of the house and which he turned into a gallery-museum and bar called Gainsbarre. “Everything was preserved due to the fact that no one came in, since there was little light, and it was very important for me to preserve the smell: Van Cleef perfume, the smell gypsiesalcohol…” he assures the media during Macion Gainsbourg’s press conference.

Although she also wanted to write a letter to explain why, how and when this house came to be, where she spent most of her childhood and where memories come to her in flashes. “The living room was just a room that Kate and I walked through. The sounds of the piano were distant, but after my parents separated, I had a second life there, weekends with my father and the habits of a spoiled girl. We watched films over and over again. on his big TV at the foot of his bed. American cinema, foreign films without subtitles, which he proudly bought on the Champs-Elysees, horror films, Disney, Italian comedies,” he writes about those late 70s and early 80s in which the French singer never stopped mourning Birkin .

Even when Bambu arrived, “and the three of us began to sleep in her bed, she in the middle,” he continued to preserve that museum of photographs of the British woman who composed for her. And then his death, at night in his bed, and Charlotte remembers lying next to him. All life is within these 100 meters from home.

“These walls have been through a lot. Their customs, their taste for detail was very aesthetic, manic. And also their loneliness. It’s even the place where they fled to the Raphael Hotel one night to escape the memories,” he says. And he says he now sees his father as “a public figure in his own environment, his own atmosphere and his own essence. I hope to offer the public an experience worthy of everything he left us.”