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Les Femmes et la Ville : histoire des femmes à Marseille des origines à nos jours

Les Femmes et Marseille

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Quique, Nicoli Joséphine dite la

Marseille, 30.08.1873 - Marseille, 3.02.50

There used to be 18 flower kiosks - nine on each side - on the Cours Saint-Louis, but only one remains today opposite the hat store « L'Elégante ». It is known as « La Quique », the nickname that given to customers or to children by Marseillais women.

Joséphine Nicoli (nee Roux) became the owner of Kiosk n°13 in 1885. She was known as « La Quique », after Gaby Deslys*, a Marseillaise who was to become the first international star of the music-hall, gave her this nickname. She had hired Joséphine to sell flowers at the Grand Casino, where she was starring in a revue with Harry Pilcer in 1918, saying: « You'll no longer be called Joséphine but La Quique! »

From then on, whenever music-hall artistes came to Marseille, they would go to her kiosk before going on stage - « The Quique, she's our good luck charm! » Among the many stars who visited her kiosk were Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier, Raquel Meller, Vincent Scotto, Alibert, Marcel Pagnol, Raimu, Delmont, Andrée Turcy*, Gorlett, Réda Caire, Albert Préjean, Claude Dauphin, José Janson, André Luguet, Madeleine Sologne, Charles Trénet, Tino Rossi, Luis Mariano, Edith Piaf, François Périer… who came to sing or act in plays at the Alcazar, the Varieties, or the Odéon. La Quique was always there at the first night and always sat in the front row!

Joséphine had two daughters, one of whom, Henriette d'Onorio, took over the famous kiosk from her mother at the age of 13. She continues to provide flowers to the prefecture, police, and other government administrations and enjoys the company of performers for whom she remains my pretty Quique and my beautiful Quique. She gave up the kiosk in 1978, taking her hoard of memories with her. In one of her stories, recollected by Jean-Baptiste Luppi, she talked about her neighbour who held the national lottery kiosk known as Le Fétiche: one day, Joséphine showed him her hands pricked by pins: « Just think, Mayol used to sing about the hands of women and of florists in his song! »

Jacques Bonnadier