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French mayor gifts centenarian a bench halfway between shops and home

Much-loved resident, Giselle Bisson, 101, can now rest and chat on a seat that literally has her name on it

101-year-old Giselle Bisson and mayor Olivier Paz on bench

101-year-old Giselle Bisson is the ‘memory of the village’ says local mayor Olivier Paz Pic: Mairie, Merville-Franceville

A mairie has given a 101-year-old resident a bench with her name on it halfway between her home and the local shops so she can rest and chat as she goes for her groceries.

Giselle Bisson turned 101 on March 8 and her local Merville-Franceville mairie in Normandy celebrated by giving her the stopping point. 

Ms Bisson arrived in Merville-Franceville – a coastal village of around 2,000 residents near Ouistreham (Calvados) – in August 1930, and has lived there ever since. 

She was one of a large family, and worked preparing Parisian second homes for their owners when they came to the seaside resort. Today she is still a much-loved member of the community.

Ms Bisson is a ray of sunshine

“The shopkeepers know her well. She comes [into town] to do her shopping every day,” said the mayor, Olivier Paz. 

A local resident added: “Each day, she descends the two floors of her apartment building on a small wooden staircase. 

“She is a true ray of sunshine, a woman without children who is all goodness, with a phenomenal memory.” 

Mr Paz echoed: “She is the memory of our village.” 

She is happy others can use the bench too

A spokesperson for the mairie told The Connexion that Ms Bisson had been touched to learn about the bench, which comes with a plaque bearing her name – an unusual tribute in France. 

“She was surprised but happy to have a place where she can take a break, because she never wants to be helped with her shopping bag.

“She sits and watches the world go by and often says hello to people when they pass.

“Many of them know her and exchange a word and a laugh. 

“She is also grateful that other vulnerable people will be able to rest on the bench. Giselle Bisson is all generosity of heart.” 

The spokesperson added that Ms Bisson uses the bench every day on her way to and from buying her newspaper and groceries.

“But no doubt she uses it more to socialise, see people and chat than to refuel. She loves chatting.

“At the moment the weather is nice, there is warmth in the air, and so she goes out often to make the most of her bench.”

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