France bids farewell to Johnny Hallyday

France is bidding farewell to its biggest rock star, honouring Johnny Hallyday with a funeral procession down the Champs-Elysees, a presidential speech and a parade of motorcyclists.

France bids farewell to Johnny Hallyday

France is bidding farewell to its biggest rock star, honouring Johnny Hallyday with a funeral procession down the Champs-Elysees, a presidential speech and a parade of motorcyclists.

Few figures in French history have earned such an elaborate send-off, which will take place under intense security.

It was ordered by President Emmanuel Macron, a Hallyday fan himself.

Hallyday's death on Wednesday at the age of 74, after fighting lung cancer, unleashed emotion across the country, where the man sometimes dubbed the French Elvis had been a favourite for more than half a century.

Paris police expect hundreds of thousands of fans as the procession moves from his home in a Paris suburb to Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe monument and down the Champs-Elysees.

Mr Macron is expected to speak at the funeral ceremony at Madeleine Church.

Fans chanting "Johnny! Johnny!" massed in Paris as the funeral cortege headed past his home in a Paris suburb near Versailles to the Arc de Triomphe.

Adding a rock touch to the pomp-filled event, hundreds of motorcyclists came to Paris to join the procession.

The line-up of speakers at the service will include film stars Marion Cotillard and Jean Reno, and singer Patrick Bruel.

Guests include former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, who officiated at Hallyday's last marriage.

The singer's band and the church choir will alternate songs during the religious ceremony.

About 1,500 police officers are securing the area.

Some media reported that organisers even considered having warplanes fly over the event.

The words "Thank you Johnny" are being displayed on the Eiffel Tower over the weekend, and football stadiums are playing Hallyday's songs before kick-off.

Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Smet, is expected to be buried in the French Caribbean island of St Barts where he owned a house.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up