Late rocker Johnny Hallyday’s funeral caused gridlock in Paris, France on Saturday (09Dec17) as more than a million people grieved for their national treasure.
The French capital ground to a halt as his body was carried in a hearse past his home in a western suburb near Versailles to the City of Light’s famed Arc de Triomphe landmark.
Hundreds of motorcyclists joined the crowds as fans lined the route along the city’s Champs-Elysees street, chanting, “Johnny! Johnny!”.
French police officials told Sky News more than a million fans lined the route of the funeral procession, which was accompanied by Hallyday’s band playing live as it made its way from the Arc de Triomphe to the church of La Madeleine.
Hallyday’s widow, Laeticia, and their two adopted children, Jade, 13, and Joy, nine, followed the cortege, while the rocker’s older children, David Hallyday and Laura Smet, waited on the steps of the church to receive the coffin.
French President Emmanuel Macron was visibly emotional as he stood on the steps to address the crowds: “You are here for him, for Johnny Hallyday,” he said. “After 60 years of career, 1,000 songs, 50 albums… you are still there, still there, always there.
“I know you’re waiting for him to jump out from somewhere, he’s on a bike, he comes towards you and starts the first song and you start singing with him.”
He continued: “Yes, this December Saturday is sad, but you have to be here for Johnny because from the beginning Johnny was there for you. In moments of your life one of his songs translated something you had in your heart… an indefinable humanity that made us feel less alone. That’s how Johnny came into our lives… he became a necessary presence, a friend, a brother.”
Macron told Hallyday’s family he was a national hero, and added: “Johnny belonged to you, to the public, to France.”
Former French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, first lady Brigitte Macron, and Hollywood stars Marion Cotillard and Jean Reno were among the mourners.
Hallyday’s body is due to be buried on St. Barts, the French West Indies island where he owned a home, according to Sky News.