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‘Queen of the circus’ Rosa Bouglione dies at 107

AFP file photo | Rosa Bouglione pictured alongside her late husband, Joseph Bouglione, in January 1963 in Paris.

Rosa Bouglione, the matriarch of France's legendary Bouglione circus family, has died in Paris aged 107, her relatives announced Monday.

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"Right up to August 26 she remained the uncontested queen of the circus," a family statement said.

Bouglione reigned over the Cirque d'Hiver (Winter Circus) in the heart of the French capital through most of the 20th Century after her husband Joseph and his three brothers bought the famed venue in 1934.

"Madame Rosa received the greatest stars and welcomed the greatest international artists to this temple of the circus," the statement added.

Married in a lion’s den

Born in a horse-drawn caravan to a family of performers in Belgium on December 21, 1910, under the name Rosalie Van Been, Bouglione died on Sunday at her home close to the Cirque d'Hiver, in eastern Paris.

In her extraordinary life story published in 2011, she told of how she was married in a lion's den.

"Five generations, covering 55 children, great and great, great grandchildren will say adieu to their emblematic grandmother who has bequeathed them a love of the circus," the statement said.

Members of the public will be able to pay their respects before the coffin at the Cirque d'Hiver on Wednesday ahead of a funeral mass during the afternoon.

Rosa will be buried alongside "all the members of the dynasty" at the cemetery in Lizy-sur-Ourcq, northwest of Paris, the family said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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