Juliette Gréco was born in Montpellier to a Corsican father and a mother active in the Résistance, in the Hérault département of southern France. She was raised by her maternal grandparents. Gréco also became involved in the Résistance, and was caught but not deported because of her young age. She moved to Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris in 1946 after her mother left the country for Indochina with the French Navy.
Gréco came to be one of the stars of the bohemian "in" crowd of post-war France. She embodied the disenchantment and poverty of the French intellectuals following World War II. Gréco dressed all in black and let her long, black hair hang free.
A famous description of Gréco is that her voice "encompasses millions of poems". She was an inspiration to many of the writers and artists working in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Boris Vian. Some of these artists would write songs for her to sing.
Gréco famously spent the post liberation years frequenting the Saint Germain cafes, immersing herself in political and philosophical Bohemian culture. As a regular figure at legendary music and poetry venues like Le Tabou on Rue Dauphine, Greco rubbed shoulders with Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau, even landing a role in Cocteau’s film ‘Orphee’ in 1949. In the same year, she embarked on a new singing career with a number of top French writers penning lyrics – Raymond Queneau’s ‘Si Tu T’Imagines’ was one of her earliest hits.
A protege and companion of studio head Darryl F. Zanuck in the 1950s, she fell in love with and almost married musician Miles Davis when he visited Paris in 1949.
She was married to French actor Michel Piccoli (1966-1977).