Patachou (1961).jpg
Patachou in 1961
Henriette Ragon

(1918-06-10)10 June 1918
Died 30 April 2015(2015-04-30) (aged 96)
Occupation Singer, actress
Spouse(s) Jean Billon, Arthur Lesser
Children Pierre Billon

Henriette Ragon (10 June 1918 – 30 April 2015), better known as Patachou, was a French singer and actress. She was an Officier of the Légion d'honneur.


Early life

Born in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, Henriette Ragon began her working life as a typist, then a factory worker, a shoeseller and an antique dealer.


In 1948, with her husband Jean Billon she took over a cabaret-restaurant in Montmartre, called Patachou. (Their son Pierre Billon had some success as a singer in the 1970s and wrote J'ai oublié de vivre for Johnny Hallyday.) She began to sing in the bistro, and journalists began to call her Patachou after the name of her cabaret (pâte-à-choux means cream puff dough). Georges Brassens sang there, and together they sang the duet "Maman, papa". She was the first to interpret other songs he composed such as "Le bricoleur", "La chasse aux papillons", etc.

The evening she sang them for the first time, she suggested her audience stay to the end of the show and meet the writer of these songs, and Brassens went up on to the Patachou stage for the first time and sang Le Gorille and toi. Sometimes she would collect half-ties (she would snip the neckties of customers reluctant to join in the singing and immediately staple them to the ceiling, a habit which has created a very original decor of the place - hundreds of neckties hanging above) – Thomas Dewey and Errol Flynn were among her victims.[1]

First recordings

Her first records were released in 1952. She appeared at the Bobino, a Montparnasse music-hall, toured in France and then further afield. From 1953 onwards, she could be seen on-stage at the Palladium, the Waldorf Astoria, and Carnegie Hall, and throughout the United States. From the beginning of the 1970s she toured Japan and Sweden where 'L'eternal Parigot', with her cheeky Parisian register, was popular.


Patachou was made Officier of the Légion d'honneur on 1 January 2009[2]


Patachou died on 30 April 2015 at the age of 96.[3][4]



  1. ^ Sleeve notes from the Philips release 'Les Grandes Chansons/Patachou
  2. ^ La Légion d'honneur du Nouvel An, Le Figaro.
  3. ^ La chanteuse Patachou est morte, Le Figaro.
  4. ^ Patachou, chanteuse - obituary