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Family bid final farewell to former French President Chirac in home village

Family bid final farewell to former French President Chirac in home village

Ex-president Jacques Chirac was buried at Montparnasse cemetery next to his eldest daughter Laurence, who died in 2016. (AFP/Philippe LOPEZ)

SAINTE-FEREOLE, FRANCE: Former French President Jacques Chirac's family bade him a final farewell Saturday (Oct 5) at an intimate ceremony in the southwestern village where he grew up.

"I can only say thank you in the name of my father and mother," the statesman's daughter Claude Chirac said in a tearful address at Sainte-Fereole, a small village in the Chirac fiefdom of the Correze region.

"In childhood and adolescence, Jacques Chirac was made here," said mayor Henri Soulier.

Claude Chirac paid a tearful tribute to her father AFP/GEORGES GOBET

Born in Paris, Chirac, who died aged 86 on Sep 26, moved as a young boy to Sainte-Fereole where he was elected a municipal councillor in 1965 before becoming a Correze lawmaker two years later.

He continued to represent the Correze department until becoming president in 1995, serving as head of state until 2007.

READ: World leaders pay final tribute to France's Chirac

Chirac's widow Bernadette, 86, did not attend the gathering of some 200 people in a picturesque village square decked out in portraits of the former president showing key moments of his life in public service.

Soulier said he had proposed and Chirac's family had agreed to rename the square after him in the village which they had insisted would be the site of the final homage to his life.

Prior to the ceremony, local leaders had accompanied the family to lay a wreath at the tomb of Chirac's parents.

Chirac died on Sep 26, 2019, aged 86 AFP/Sameer Al-Doumy Chirac died on Thursday, aged 86 AFP/Sameer Al-Doumy

READ: Behind Chirac's six-decade marriage, a litany of affairs

The group then stopped by the village hall and the family home, of which Claude Chirac's husband Frederic Salat-Baroux vowed "we shall never sell this house. One is always from somewhere and, for Claude, that's here."

Claude recalled how she was "often at Sainte-Fereole with Laurence," Chirac's other daughter, who died in 2016.

"We would leave Paris on Friday and our parents would leave us there before travelling around the department," she recalled.

"My mother is very emotional today that she cannot come ... it's an exceptional homage. It is very comforting to her. And I want to say thank you for that because she really needs it," Claude said.

The coffin of former French President Jacques Chirac lies in state during a memorial ceremony at the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides memorial complex in central Paris on September 29, 2019 AFP/Philippe LOPEZ

READ: France bids farewell to ex-president Chirac

READ: French queue at Elysee Palace to pay tribute to Chirac

Local authorities said meanwhile some 3,000 people had participated in a day of "memory and friendship" to honour Chirac at nearby Sarran, where Bernadette was first elected a municipal councillor in 1971 and which houses a museum dedicated to his life.

Among those attending Saturday was former Socialist president Francois Hollande, who was a political rival of Chirac in Correze, as well as Chirac's grandson Martin Rey-Chirac.

Dozens of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, last Monday paid their final respects at a funeral service in Paris alongside dignitaries including former US president Bill Clinton, a day after 7,000 people queued to view Chirac's coffin at Invalides military hospital and museum.

He was then laid to rest at a cemetery at Montparnasse in Paris.

Source: AFP/aj


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