We have selected for you 5 curiosities about their relationship you probably didn’t know.
1 – It wasn’t love at first sight.
When Birkin and Gainsbourg met, Birkin was still suffering the heartbreak which accompanied the disappearance of her then-husband, composer John Barry. When she met Gainsbourg for the first time on the set of the film Slogan, she thought he was terribly ugly. “He’s horrible!” her older brother Andrew Birkin recalls Jane telling him. “He’s meant to be my lover but he’s so arrogant and snobbish and he absolutely despises me.”
It wasn’t until their first evening spent together, during which Gainsbourg trampled inelegantly on her toes after being dragged reluctantly to the dance floor, that Birkin realised his arrogance was in fact shyness.
2 – Their passion was sustained with frequent public fights.
Both Birkin and Gainsbourg had fiery temperaments, so they often fought, vigorously and publicly. On one occasion in a Parisian bar, enraged by Gainsbourg’s rifling through her basket to expose the sordid items at the bottom of it, Birkin picked up a custard tart and flung it furiously in his face before chasing him down Boulevard St Germain.
3 – Their iconic love song “Je t’aime…moi non plus” was originally registered with Brigitte Bardot, not with Birkin.
The song had initially written for Gainsbourg’s then-lover Brigitte Bardot, who had refused to allow her own version to be publicly released as she was married at the time. A jealous Birkin claimed she couldn’t stand to see Gainsbourg record the song with anybody else.
4 – They remained close friends after their breakup.
When Birkin’s third daughter, with lover Jacques Doillon, was born, Gainsbourg sent her a box full of baby clothes and a card bearing the words “Papa Deux,” before later becoming the child’s godfather. He was her best friend, and they remained close for the rest of his life. When he died, in 1991, Birkin spent three days with his body, unable to let him go. Feeling oppressed by the situation, Doillon left Birkin and she has lived alone in Paris ever since.