Prince performing on stage at the Stade de France near Paris in 2011. Photo: AFP
The world was stunned on Thursday to learn of the death of US artist Prince at the age of 57, a week after he had been taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza.
As the world mourned the loss of the musical genius, the French media reflected on the singer's love for France over the years.
In an obituary in the Le Parisien newspaper, its music reporter recounted meeting the artist backstage in 2010, and in an unrecorded interview (Prince preferred to have a 'discussion'), he opened up about France.
“I love playing in France. I even plan to sing in every single concert hall in Paris. Anyway, I want to live in France,” Prince told the reporter.
“Paisley Park, my base in Minneapolis, is fine for business but I'd really like to move to France.”
Prince performing onstage at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris in 1990. Photo: AFP
Perhaps it's no surprise that Prince was a fan of France, as any French fans would be quick to tell you that the artist was no stranger to the country – especially the Riviera.
In fact, Prince even made headlines in August 2009 after performing two separate concerts in one night (with different set lists) at the Salle Garnier in Monaco.
The singer was back on the Riviera again in July the next year, performing in Nice and then into the late hours in a Cannes nightclub.
During the same visit, he even ordered his agent to lodge a bid to become owner of the Nice Jazz Festival, reported France Bleu newspaper, though the paperwork never went anywhere.
And Prince was no stranger to the lesser known venues in France. In fact, the New Morning jazz club (on the Rue des Petites Écuries in the tenth arrondissement) was one of his favourite haunts in Paris, reported Le Parisien newspaper.
Alfred Bernardin, a Frenchman who acted as Prince's assistant in France, told the paper that when in Paris, Prince could arrive at the club as late as two in the morning and play until 6am.
“He was full of energy. We were all a little tired, but not him,” he said.
Bernardin said that working with Prince meant being a “yes man”, no matter how outlandish and fickle the singer could be.
He recounted, for example, how the Raspberry Beret singer found a “beautiful house” in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, with a studio basement for his music.
“I rented it out for him for six months, but he never lived there,” the assistant said.
He also shared stories of how Prince had planned a concert at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris that never came to fruition.
Prince's last show in France would have been at the Opera Garnier in Paris in December last year, though he cancelled the gig due to the November terror attacks.
Authorities have not given a cause of death for the singer, who sold over 100 million albums in his lifetime.
Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris in 1987. Photo: AFP