Marguerite Boulc’h , known as Frehel , born in Paris , at number 2 boulevard Bessières , the and died in that same city on , is a singer who marked the period between the wars .


Marguerite is the daughter of a Breton couple from Primel-Trégastel 1 , hamlet of Plougasnou ( Finistère ). His father Yves Marie Boulc’h is a former railway worker whobecame disabled, having lost an arm, caught by a locomotive, while his mother Marie-Jeanne Daniel, concierge , was incidentally involved in prostitution . The young Marguerite grows up in the most popular districts of Paris. At the age of fifteen, she is a door-to-door cosmetics saleswoman. His work allows him to meet the beautiful Otero, an artist then adulated, who admires his audacity and his forms as well as his particular voice, proposes to him to sing under the name of “Pervenche”.

Her “realistic” repertoire began to make her known between 1908 and 1910 .

The She married in th district of Paris Robert Hollard (aka Roberty ), a young amateur actor of vaudeville she had met at the tavern of Olympia . The couple gives birth to a child who dies at a young age, and the young mother is quickly abandoned by her attractive companion who prefers Damia . Their divorce is pronounced on. She then establishes a short-term relationship with Maurice Chevalier , who decides to leave her for Mistinguett .

Although successful, Fréhel (henceforth nicknamed in reference to the Breton cap of the same name ) flees a disastrous love life and ends up dipping into alcohol and drugs . She left France for Eastern Europe and Turkey , from where the embassy of France repatriated her in a sorry state in 1923 .

In 1925 , the “unforgettable unforgettable” goes back on the boards of the Olympia for the greatest pleasure of an audience that does not get tired of its realistic couplets. Her unrecognizable physique – she has considerably deepened – paradoxically opens the doors of the cinema. She toured in 1931 in Le Coeur de lilas , Le Roman d’un chiche in 1936 and Pépé le Moko in 1936, where she performed the famous chanson Où est-il? The House of Maltese in 1938.

The She married in Paris Georges Boettgen .

In 1950 , Robert Giraud and Pierre Mérindol invite Fréhel to perform in front of the Parisian public in an old ballroom, Les Escarpes, located near the Place de la Contrescarpe . This will be the last public appearances of the singer.

She will never recover from her past dramas. It is in a sordid room of a hotel of pass, with 45 of the street Pigalle , that she dies alone the. A large crowd will attend his funeral. She is buried in the cemetery of Pantin .

Since then, many singers claim to be his influence: Charles Trenet , Mano Solo , Jacques Higelin , Serge Gainsbourg or Renaud .


The Freels discography ranges from 1908 to 1939 , she recorded her st disc at Odeon in June 1908 under the name of Periwinkle-Frehel, disk that should hardly expect to find. Extremely rare, it recovered to the studio in 1926 , 18 years after its st phonogram her grave once in Ideal, Inovat, Ibled, sapphire Odeon, Parlophone , then at Polydor and Columbia in the 1930s, records from the 1920s are relatively rare. His last record was La java bleue , reissued byColumbia Records in 1951 , the year of Fréhel’s disappearance. Its cinematographic activity extends from 1931 to 1949 . It is heard one last time in 1950 on Radio-Lausanne , a Pyral record of this ultimate intervention has miraculously been preserved.


  • I have the cockroach (1927)
  • The Waltz kicks on … boom (1927)
  • Reserve
  • The Obsessed (1930)
  • Poor big (1930)
  • Under the pale (1930)
  • Like a sparrow (1930)
  • Like a flower (1931)
  • The Coco (1931)
  • When you have too much heart (1931)
  • The Song of the Old Sailor (1931)
  • Drifting (1931)
  • Musette (1932)
  • The Great Leo (1933)
  • He is a male (1933)
  • If you were not there (1934)
  • Fear (1935)
  • He cashes everything (1935)
  • It’s too late (1935)
  • Where are all my lovers? (1935)
  • Nothing beats the accordion (1935)
  • Waltz to everyone (1936)
  • The Son of the Fish Woman (1936)
  • Girls who night … (1936)
  • House ladle (1936)
  • As it is (1936)
  • And why? (1936)
  • Where is he? (1936)
  • Under the fleet (1936)
  • Everything changes in life (1936)
  • It’s a little dance ball (1936)
  • Crying (1937)
  • Behind the clique (1938)
  • The love of men (1938)
  • The Song of the Fortifications (1938)
  • The Catch-catch girl (1938)
  • Oh! friends ! (1939)
  • The Der des der (1939)
  • Blue Java (1939)
  • Without a future (1939)

Encounters and tributes

  • In 1981, Renaud resumes as he is , The fear (a cat that meows) and It’s a male on his record The P’tit Bal Saturday night and other realistic songs .
  • In 1990, Where are they? by the Boys Butchers in the album The saga of Boys Butchers .
  • In 1992, Emmanuel Hubaut, Eduardo Leal of the Gala and Étienne Daho paid tribute to him with the album My Grandmother is a rocker(Island Polygram / Boucherie Prod).
  • In 1992, reprise of Where are my lovers by the Boys Butchers in the album Piaf Fréhel my grandmother is a rocker .
  • In 1998, the band Casse-Pipe , in its third album ( The part of the angels ), publishes a song called Fréhel and evoking both the singer and the cap from which it takes its stage name. In a general way, Fréhel is one of the reference figures of the group.
  • In 1998, the French group Les Hurlements d’Léo baptized the first song of their first album (The coffee of happy days) La Der des Der .
  • The soundtrack of the movie The Octopus , released in 1998, includes As a Sparrow Fréhel.
  • In 2001, a song of Fréhel, If you were not there , is used in the soundtrack of the film The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain .
  • In 2003, the song La Coco is performed by singer Olivia Louvel and Sebastien Libolt on accordion, recorded for the album Capture by “The Digital Intervention” published by Editions ici d’ailleurs / parallel series 2 .
  • In 2010, the song La Coco is sung in the film Gainsbourg, heroic life by the young Gainsbourg meeting Fréhel (played by Yolande Moreau ).
  • In 2013, Olivia Ruiz and Cali resume As it is on the show La fête de la chanson française , on France 3.


  • 1930 : Those who care , Germaine Dulac’s short film illustrating two songs: All alone and A drift
  • 1932 : Lilac Heart of Anatole Litvak + song: Pain
  • 1934 : The street without name of Pierre Chenal La Méhoul
  • 1934: Amok of Fedor Ozep : The singer of the cabaret
  • 1934: I have nothing to Germaine Dulac – song filmed, short film –
  • 1936 : Gigolette of Yvan Noé : The singer
  • 1936: The romance of a cheater by Sacha Guitry : Redhead (singer)
  • 1936 Radio of Maurice Cloche – Short Film –
  • 1937 : The Innocent of Maurice Cammage
  • 1937: Pépé the Moko of Julien Duvivier : Tania
  • 1938 : The Rue without joy by André Hugon : Henriette
  • 1938: The Puritan of Jeff Musso
  • 1938: The House of Maltais by Pierre Chenal : Rosina
  • 1939 : A java by Claude Orval : The boss of the bar
  • 1939: Berlingot and company of Fernand Rivers : Bohemia
  • 1940 : The Coach of Albert Valentin : The singer
  • 1941 : The Angels Hell of Christian-Jaque : The Sulpice Woman
  • 1947 : The man hunted by Robert Bibal : The mother Everybody
  • 1949 : A man walks in the city of Marcel Pagliero : Buck’s wife
  • 1949: Maya of Raymond Bernard : Our Mother

Notes and references

  1. ↑ The French and Francophone song , Ed. Larousse, 1999.
  2. ↑  [ archive ]