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Four iconic couples who shaped history

Past and present, their passion still inspires and is the stuff of dreams. But how did their love become eternal?

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

Aged just 23 and 21, this pair of French philosophers professed their undying love for each other outside the Louvre. The promise they made to each other? No children, no marriage, but an open relationship that would be punctuated by adjoining passions. This passionate and liberated love would last throughout their lives, or at least until the end of Sartre’s life when he whispered to Beauvoir in his last breath: ‘You were a good little wife.’

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé

It was a real thunderbolt which created the lifelong pairing of Yves Saint Laurent, a young, timid and introverted upcoming designer, and Pierre Bergé, the man who would become his patron and most faithful lover. After 50 years of love, Bergé still keeps the memory of the man he shared his life with (and who died in 2008) alive by managing his work and heritage.

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

The story of this iconic couple began with an awkward idyll and ended with eternal history. Before falling for the charms of the most French of Brits, singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg described Jane Birkin as ‘ugly’. However, one erotic song (Je t’aime… moi non plus) and one album (Melody Nelson) later, the couple began a passionate love affair which burned until 1980. Despite no longer being a couple, they remained close until the singer’s death in 1991.

Yves Montand and Marilyn Monroe

Lovers on screen and in real life, one of the most glamourous couples of all time met while shooting Let’s Make Love. At the time the actor was in a relationship with Simone Signoret, and the actress with playwright Arthur Miller. However, the blonde bombshell could not resist the Frenchman’s charms and came knocking at his hotel room door. A whirlwind idyll followed, ending by mutual agreement on the seat of a Cadillac. True glamour!

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