Stars aligned for Anglo-French liaison

The couple out for a drive to Blenheim Palace, near Oxford

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s romance captivated France, says Samantha David

The love affair between Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg is perhaps one of the most legendary of the late 20th century, encapsulating much of the fascination between the British and the French. He was a bohemian musician from a Jewish family, crumpled and unshaven; she was a skinny British actress with the face of an innocent angel.

When they met in 1968, on the set of the film Slogan, the chemistry was immediate. “He’s horrible,” she is reported to have told her brother Andrew. “He’s arrogant and snobbish and he absolutely despises me!”

The spark soon turned into a blazing ...

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