“We were discovering life, freedom... and we were having a blast!”
“You can’t imagine the sense of freedom we had back then! We can never get that back!” After her marriage ended when she was 30, the independent, free-spirited single mother (to one Marc Labrèche, by the way) captured the times, singing about them with Renée Claude: C’est le début d’un temps nouveau, la Terre est à l’année zéro […], les femmes font l’amour librement... “With the arrival of contraceptives, women were finally taking their place. I could walk into a bar and throw myself at any man I pleased. The sexual revolution of the 1960s, the free-for-all of the 70s, and the refinement of the 80s… I’ve seen it all!”
Discovering the world and good food
At Expo 67, passport in hand, Michelle Labrèche-Larouche discovered the world and new ways to eat. “From that point forward, Quebecers became more refined. We discovered bourgeois French cuisine, from aspics to Jell-O to vols-au-vent to coq au vin!” In the 1970s, she began working at the French consulate, and was introduced to high-end alcohols. “I had access to all the best wines, at duty-free prices. I always had champagne in the fridge. I was very popular,” she laughs.
Thursday nights were spent with girlfriends. “Those were our nights. We would have a martini before dinner, wine during the meal, and a bock of Irish coffee after dinner. I was talking with a friend about our wild younger days… we were crazy! We can’t eat or drink like that anymore.”
Love and friendship
Michelle Labrèche-Larouche never again lived with a man after her marriage ended. “I got used to living alone, and I had some reservations. I’m creative, I read a lot, I write, I’m fond of arts. As for love, friendship, family, cuddles… Even now, you just can’t beat a celebration around a good meal, with a good bottle.”
“French cuisine was so chic. We were always so proud when we cooked up a good coq au vin!”
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1Les 40 hommes de ma vie – Couchés sur le papier, Les Éditions La Presse, 224 p., 2020.