Paris tourist sites are renowned for huge crowds, but there is little chance of hordes descending on one of the city’s newest attractions – it allows only two visitors at a time.
Some 32 years after his death, singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg’s home opened to the public at the end of September.
The “intimate” tour of the dimly lit lair at 5 bis Rue de Verneuil in the 7th arrondissement lasts 30 minutes.
Commentary, via headphones, has been provided by Charlotte Gainsbourg, the provocateur’s eldest daughter.
Only the ashtrays have been emptied
Serge Gainsbourg, who was also an actor, composer and director, was an important but controversial figure in French popular music until his death, from a heart attack, in March 1991. He was 62.
Everything in his Paris house has been left exactly as it was on the day he died – the only exception being that the chainsmoker’s ashtrays have been emptied.
Alongside his piano, pictures of the women in his life, including Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot, adorn the walls.
Charlotte said: “As soon as he died, I didn’t want to move anything. Immediately, I was thinking about opening a museum because he himself had talked about it.”
It took three decades before she finally came to terms with the idea of letting the public inside, and there is only room for “small groups” of two, with staggered entry.
The house tour is fully booked until next year
A collection of around 25,000 items is spread between the property and a newly built museum opposite, consisting of artworks, furniture, photographs, documents and clothes that once belonged to the star.
Photo: Collection of around 25,000 items on display; Credit: Alexis Raimbault
It includes major works such as Claude Lalanne’s L’Homme à tête de chou sculpture, which inspired Gainsbourg’s album of the same name, the original manuscript of French national anthem La Marseillaise, and Salvador Dali’s La Chasse aux Papillons.
A spokesman for Maison Gainsbourg said: “It is a place of great importance, both in his personal life and in the development of his work. The 5 bis and the objects it contains were kept intact by Charlotte after her father’s passing.”
The unique insight into the star’s chequered life is expected to attract some 100,000 visitors a year (including the museum, which can be visited separately).
House tours are already fully booked until the end of 2023. Further details are available at maisongainsbourg.fr