France pays tribute to actor Jean-Paul Belmondo

France pays tribute Thursday to the legend of the big screen Jean-Paul Belmondo with a solemn ceremony chaired by Emmanuel Macron.

The public will also be able to meditate in front of their coffin at the Invalides.

The tributes paid to the star of the iconic film of the French New Wave Breathless reflect his leading role in the French cultural world and in the salons, where families gathered around his films.

Belmondo, whose crooked boxer nose and smirk made him one of the country’s most recognizable actors, died at 88 earlier this week. The cause of death was not given.

Belmondo’s career spanned half a century, as he appeared in over 80 films and worked with a variety of top French directors. The film Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard, in 1960, earned the two men lasting success.

Belmondo was a thug and a policeman, a thief and a priest, Cyrano de Bergerac and an unshakable secret agent. The one who was affectionately known to the French as Bébel was also a gifted athlete who often did his own stunts.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the actor as a “national treasure” and presided over the first tribute ceremony at the Invalides on Thursday.

Charles Aznavour was also honored at the Invalides after his death in October 2018. Belmondo was among those present at this ceremony.

A private funeral is also scheduled for Friday.

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