Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot Getty Images, RDA

The story of a song: Brigitte Bardot's "La Madrague"


First performed by Brigitte Bardot in 1963, "La Madrague" perfectly encapsulates the image of the babydoll actress. Inspired by the young woman's house of the same name in Saint-Tropez, she first sang "La Madrague" during the tv special "Bonne année Brigitte" ("Happy New Year, Brigitte").

Symbolic of the image portrayed by Bardot in the 60s, "La Madrague" pays tribute to life by the Mediterranean sea, with its sun, sea and wind. Languor, lightness and sensuality summarize the sentiment behind the lyrics. The melody itself is minimalist, punctuated with typically Bardot-esque phrasing. Every year since the release of the song, the words "Sur la plage abandonnée, coquillages et crustacés" ("On the deserted beach, shellfish and crustaceans") come alive again and are heard throughout the South of France once summer's warmth hits the shores.

Written by Jean-Max Rivière and composed by Gérard Bourgeois, the song marked a turning point in Bardot's musical career. From that point on, she sought to meet with Serge Gainsbourg so that he might write songs for her. She achieved her goal in 1967. The writer, composer and musician was the path to Bardot's true success. "Harley Davidson" and "Bonne & Clyde" became world-famous songs, helping the young French actress become an international star. A symbol of women's emancipation, she became the muse of many of the greatest artists of the time.

In 1973, however, her fans were left in shock. Brigitte Bardot decided to call an end to her career and devote herself to animal rights. But her musical legacy lives on: even 50 years later, old fans and new can still hear "La Madrague" along the coastline of Saint-Tropez...

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