In the summer of 1967, the singer, actress, radio and television host adopted the name of France Castel, when she became Miss Couche-Tard, as a hostess in the popular show. Night owlssupervised by Jacques Normand and Roger Baulu.
Francine Bégin was born in Sherbrooke. Her father wanted her to bear the name of France to underline the Liberation of France agreement, while her godfather wanted her to be christened Francine.
When we came to a compromise, she was christened Francine, but we always called her France.
From Francine to France and from Bégin to Castel: damn it, he never carried the names written in his baptistery!
You are eight children at home.
Excuse me, I’ll find a quieter place in the restaurant. Yes, we are five girls and three boys. My father, Antonio, was a failed actor, while my mother, Rita, a teacher with a beautiful soprano voice, chose to be a wonderful mother who insisted that I uphold my autonomy.
Why do you think your father was a failed actor?
Father played several musical instruments and spoke several languages. In business, we lost all our possessions. In truth, he was a man of many talents, but he mastered nothing.
Your grandmother played a big role in your life.
Grandma adopted my mother because her parents died when she was young. My grandmother always made sure to support our family in difficult times.
Your grandparents live in Coaticook.
The fact that they live in an English-speaking city allows me to learn English.
Your grandfather was a pawnbroker.
His business is good and I often accompany him on his collection rounds from his clients. Often, after his collections, we went to the cinema; however, we enter through the back door.
You are the mayoress of OTJ (Playground Work).
Imagine, I was elected mayor of OTJ in Sherbrooke. It allowed me to accompany the mayor to some activities.
You liked fishing and tennis.
I like to go fishing with my uncle, and even though I don’t play tennis, I like to watch matches.
What is your summer vacation?
Dad didn’t drive, so we visited different places with Grandpa behind the wheel. But the highlight of my vacation was staying at my aunt’s farm in Compton.
Have you thought about making a career in the field of song?
Not allowed. I love to sing and I studied music theory for seven years to play the piano. (He revealed the song to me over the phone A Little Beguine)
Your father’s financial problems changed your life.
Mind you, we have a cleaning lady in the house, who comes from Germany, who allows me to speak a little German. We are an ordinary family. Suddenly, we had to leave Sherbrooke, because my father lost everything and we had to move to Montreal, in the district of Tétreaultville.
You attend a convent in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon.
My friend Johanne enrolled in the convent, so I called my grandmother to pay for my convent education.
You play the role of the future Ramses II The Ten Commandments.
We play the part The Ten Commandments in the convent. Imagine, they chose me to personify one of the important roles in the play.
You already live in the presbytery.
I suffered a severe attack of appendicitis and the priest, a very generous man, offered my parents the possibility of having me stay in the presbytery for my recovery.
Tell us about your first job.
To pay for my convent education, I worked during the summer. My first job was at a creamery in the Center commercial Domaine, in the east end of Montreal, on Sherbrooke Street near Langelier.
Why didn’t you continue your work?
After cleaning all the equipment, I forgot the most important aspect of my job. which one? Make sure the electrical outlets of the refrigerators are properly connected. The next morning the ice cream melted, and I was fired.
Then you worked at the Saint-Joseph-de-Rosemont hospital.
I worked in the laundry area and the following year in the diabetic wards of the hospital.
You go to the dance hall of the Hotel Vannini, in Bout-de-l’Île, in Montreal.
I discovered that sometimes there is beautiful music, and sometimes there is violence. Also, one night, two men fought to dance with me. It is flattering. Do not forget that I am not yet 20 years old.
Your first car.
A used Citroën, followed by a Mustang, then Jeeps.
Your mother accompanied you to amateur contests.
The funny thing is that it was to please him. However, I won the contest several times. Moreover, during one of these contests Jean Simon noticed me and then invited me to participate in his television show. The Discoveries of Jean Simon.
René Lévesque is an extraordinary person for you.
Mr. Lévesque left us with his unfinished dream. Like him, I did not fulfill all my dreams. He made me understand the importance of owning something.
You started your young career at Clairette.
My dear Rodger, I was a fast kid, and I got old fast. I was the first Quebecer to sing at the Playboy club in Montreal, not to mention Fernand Gignac’s Cabaret.
You have a beautiful family.
I have three beautiful children and six grandchildren who show me the world that awaits them. For 23 years now, I have shared my life with a man who has helped me build a strong, loving relationship. Thank you Chawky Bichara for the wonderful years with you.