Jean Villard-Gilles statue © CVM

Jean Villard-Gilles

Born in Montreux, Jean Villard (1895-1982), nicknamed Gilles, is an author who has written and acted in plays, songs, poems… For several generations of Vaudois, he represents the reserve and teasing humour that is typical of the Vaud region.

Attracted by the theatre, the young Jean Villard became an actor in Paris. His meeting with the Frenchman Aman Maistre leds him to the music-hall industry. Under the name of "Gilles and Julien", the two accomplices became stars. During the First World War, Gilles returned to Lausanne, where he founded the "Coup de soleil" cabaret. After the war, the Vaudois regained his Parisian success, with the opening of the "Chez Gilles" cabaret and the composition of songs still sung today. These include "Les Trois Cloches" which became a classic song by Edith Piaf, and "La Venoge" - a true anthem from the Vaud canton. Jean Villard-Gilles lived the last 20 years of his life in his beloved village of St-Saphorin.

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