Queues and food: How ordinary French honoured Chirac

Ahead of an official memorial service attended by dozens of heads of state, ordinary people have been paying their respects to the late President

Queues stretched more than a kilometre in Paris, as French people travelled from all over the country to pay their last respects to Jacques Chirac, whose coffin was in state at Les Invalides - but many more found other ways to remember the late President.

Thousands of people waited for hours on Sunday to stand before the coffin of the former head of state, who died last week, and sign a book of condolence, while sales of his favourite dish - tête de veau - rocketed, as French people remembered him by tucking into the meal he loved most.

Tête de veau is a dish consisting of a calf's head, commonly found in French, Belgian, German, Swiss, and Italian cuisine. It may be served whole or boned and is usually poached, but it may also be roasted.

Mr Chirac was known to be something of an 'ambassador' for the dish. One butcher in Boulogne-Billancourt told Franceinfo that sales of tête de veau had jumped from about 6kg a week to 10kg a day after news broke of the lifelong politician's death last Thursday.

And one customer said that it was an ideal way to honour Mr Chirac. "It's a way to pay tribute. I don't want to go somewhere and sign [a book]," he said.

Mr Chirac, who serves two terms in office from 1995 to 2007, died at the age of 86. In the days leading up to Sunday's hommage populaire, many had already queued to pay their respects at the Élysée Palace and at Paris City Hall.

On Friday, flags were lowered on public buildings across the country in his honour, while tributes have poured in from heads of state around the world.

Dozens of politicians and heads of State were due to attend a memorial service at the church of Saint-Sulpice on Monday. One notable absentee will be French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who decided not to attend after Mr Chirac's family expressed their reservations.

Mr Chirac will be buried at the Montparnasse cemetery in a private family ceremony, next to his daughter Laurence who died in 2016, aged 58.

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