Vanessa Chantal Paradis was born at Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, near Paris. She became a child star at 14 with the huge worldwide success of her single "Joe le taxi." Since then, she has had a career in music, movies and modeling.
She has said when she was a young girl, her admiration for Marilyn Monroe led her to take dance and piano lessons. She also spent a lot of time with her uncle, Didier Pain, and his musician friends.
She recorded her first single, "La Magie des surprises-parties," in 1983 and performed it in an Italian festival in 1985 but lost the first prize. While "La Magie des surprises-parties" was not a hit, it paved the way for the song with which she would become known internationally in 1987 "Joe le taxi." The song was #1 in France for 11 weeks and, and released in the U.K the following year where it reached #3.
In 1989, when she was 16, she decided to drop out of high school to pursue her varied career interests. She then released Variations sur le même t'aime in 1990, containing a remake of the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side." The album was written by acclaimed French composer Serge Gainsbourg, whom she met when she received the best singer award at Les Victoires de la Musique, on February, 4th 1990. (Gainsbourg was well known for his earlier collaborations with Brigit Bardot and Jane Birkin.) In 1990, Paradis won the 1990 César Award for Most Promising Actress for her role in Noce Blanche.