Photographs of Singer Françoise Hardy in London

"In France, the image I had was of a shy girl - a poor lonely girl and not too good-looking. When I went to England, I had another image. I felt the journalists were much more interested in my looks than in my songs." - Françoise Hardy

Françoise Hardy in London to sing Love Goes Away at this years Eurovision Song Contest, representing Monaco 22nd March 1963. Photo by Eric Harlow

Hardy was born in Paris eighteen months before the end of WW2. During her childhood she was looked after mostly by her grandmother. Her father had little to do with her upbringing but was persuaded to buy Hardy a guitar in 1959 as a reward for passing her baccalauréat. Inspired by the teen oriented radio station Salut Les Copains she taught her self rudimentary chords and began writing songs most of which were incessantly sad.

After a year at the Sorbonne she answered a newspaper advertisement looking for new and unknown singers. Hardy signed her first contract with the record label Vogue in November 1961. In April 1962, shortly after she left university, her first record “Oh Oh Chéri” was released, written by Johnny Hallyday’s writing duo but it was the b-side featuring the self-penned, “Tous les garçons et les filles” that became a huge success. It sold over two million copies by 1963 and it reached no. 36 in the UK Singles Chart the following year. It’s often reported that she hated the song saying it was recorded “in three hours with the worst four musicians in Paris.”

Peter Watts on his London blog The Great Wen once wrote about Francoise Hardy in England:

Hardy benefited from being the first French singer to have a hit here, and the UK market could probably only take one foreigner at a time. She had excellent songs of course, but also an appealing vulnerability – it’s in her music as well as the body language in the image above. Unlike most of her French, English and American compatriots, Hardy never seems to smile on her single and album covers. She also had an androgynous Moddish look that was very mid-60s, a little like a French answer to Julie Christie. You can see the attraction to a generation of Euro-sympathising spotty English art school students with intellectual pretensions.

In 1966 one American newspaper wrote, “She looks like a gazelle in miniskirts. She doesn’t wear rouge or lipstick. She doesn’t smoke. (And, Hardy added: “I don’t dance at all—except in my mind always.”) Vogue magazine added that suddenly ‘Hardy’s slightly androgynous charm rendered the exaggerated femininity of the sex-kitten of the time old-fashioned.’

A few months after her big hit “Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles” Françoise Hardy, with the self-penned song ‘”L’amour s’en va”, represented Monaco at the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest in London. In the end Hardy came joint 5th (with France) of the sixteen entries.

Eschewing a chance of a bus ride to Streatham Françoise Hardy on Regent Street on the eve of her performance at the Eurovision Festival in March 1963

Oxford Street on the eve of her performance at the Eurovision Festival in March 1963

Oxford Street on the eve of her performance at the Eurovision Festival in March 1963

Piccadilly Circus on the eve of her performance at the Eurovision Festival in March 1963

Francoise Hardy on set of TV show Ready Steady Go, Kingsway Studios, London

Françoise Hardy at The Savoy Hotel in London, 7th June 1965. Francoise Hardy will be appearing in cabaret at the hotel for two weeks. Photo by Eddie Waters

Françoise Hardy at The Savoy Hotel in London, 7th June 1965. Francoise Hardy will be appearing in cabaret at the hotel for two weeks. Photo by Eddie Waters

Françoise Hardy at the London airport, November 1965

Françoise Hardy, on the Thames Embankment, London, 21st June 1970

Françoise Hardy, rehearsing her show for a three week residency at The Savoy Restaurant, London, 31st January 1966. Photo by Bela Zola

Françoise Hardy, in her hotel room, London, 3rd November 1966. Françoise Hardy is in the UK for a recording session and to appear on BBC TV show Juke Box Jury.

Françoise Hardy walks down The Strand in London, 5th November 1966

Françoise Hardy rehearsing at the Savoy hotel for her third performance there. London, UK, 20th February 1967. Photo by Roger Jackson

Françoise Hardy at The Savoy Hotel, London, February 1967. Photo by Maurice Kaye

Françoise Hardy at The London Palladium Show, March 1967

Françoise Hardy relaxes in the spring sunshine, Hyde Park, London, Sunday 14th April 1968. Photos by Edward Dean

Françoise Hardy relaxes in the spring sunshine, Hyde Park, London, Sunday 14th April 1968. Photos by Edward Dean.

Françoise Hardy relaxes in the spring sunshine, Hyde Park, London, Sunday 14th April 1968. Photos by Edward Dean

Françoise Hardy relaxes in the spring sunshine, Hyde Park, London, Sunday 14th April 1968. Photos by Edward Dean

Françoise Hardy relaxes in the spring sunshine, Hyde Park, London, Sunday 14th April 1968. Photos by Edward Dean

Françoise Hardy in London, May 1968

Françoise Hardy in London, UK, Friday 26th September, 1969

Françoise Hardy in London, UK, Friday 26th September, 1969

Françoise Hardy, aged 19 years old, in the UK to promote four new records, her first in English, London, Thursday 9th January 1964. Photo by Blandford

Françoise Hardy, aged 19 years old, in the UK to promote four new records, her first in English, London, Thursday 9th January 1964. Photo by Blandford

Françoise Hardy, in Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Françoise Hardy is in the UK for a recording session and to make a guest appearance on Ready Steady Go. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

Françoise Hardy in Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photos by Doreen Spooner.

Françoise Hardy at The Savoy Hotel in London, 7th June 1965. Francoise Hardy will be appearing in cabaret at the hotel for two weeks. Photo by Eddie Waters

Françoise Hardy at The Savoy Hotel in London, 7th June 1965. Francoise Hardy will be appearing in cabaret at the hotel for two weeks. Photo by Eddie Waters

Francoise Hardy, filming on Exhibition Road in London, 11th October 1965. Francoise Hardy is filming a one hour special, titled Françoise in London, due to be aired on french television at Christmas. She will sing seven songs on the programme, which is being directed by her fiance Jean-Marie Perier. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

Françoise Hardy in St George Street, Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

St George Street, Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

St George Street, Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

St George Street, Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

February 1967. Photo by John Pratt.

Françoise visits Carnaby Street and British Gear, a boutique in London’s Carnaby Street, UK, February 1967. Photos by John Pratt.

The events of May 1968 across France signalled the end of the yé-yé era and a new seriousness in French pop. Unlike perky domestic stars such as Sheila or France Gall, Françoise Hardy had always had a moody image – in reality she was chronically shy. A keen astrologer, this is something she has always been quick to blame on her star sign, Capricorn: “You have the longest nights, the longest absence. When the sun is in Capricorn, you are not there. You are below the horizon. You are invisible.” 1968 was also the year she retired from public performance after a rare tour of Britain.