People queue to pay respects to France's late president Jacques Chirac

People queued at the Élysée Palace and City Hall Friday to pay their respects to late president Jacques Chirac, who died Thursday at the age of 86. A national day of tribute is planned for Sunday at Invalides.


French people lined up at the Élysée Palace and the City Hall in Paris on Friday to pay their respects to late president Jacques Chirac, who presided over both seats of power during his four decades as a larger-than-life French political figure.

The French presidency announced on Friday that Chirac would lie in state Sunday during a public ceremony at the Invalides monument, where France honours its heroes. It is also where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried. 

A memorial service and private funeral are planned for Monday.

Chirac, the last French head of state to complete two terms in office, died Thursday at the age of 86. Flags were lowered Friday on buildings and monuments throughout France in his honour.

Tributes poured in from heads of state around the world this week. "His legacy for France and the European Union will stay with us forever," said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

"I am mourning a great statesman and European together with his family and the French people," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chirac was long the standard-bearer of France's conservative right. He is remembered fondly despite political failures and a 2011 corruption conviction from actions dating from his nearly two decades as mayor of Paris. 

As president from 1995-2007, he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the French economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths that exploded into riots across France in 2005.

Chirac's legacy was also marked Friday at the Shoah Memorial in Paris. An exhibition featured a 1995 photo of him giving a speech in which he became the country's first leader to acknowledge France's role in the Holocaust. He delivered that speech on the anniversary of 13,000 Jews getting rounded up in France in July 1942. Jacques Fredj, general director of the Shoah Memorial, said that because of what Chirac said, "Jews of France, who lived in France and faced denial from the political power, finally reconciled with their own country."

Chirac also left his mark in Paris with the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum, which opened in 2006 to display art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

At the time, Chirac dedicated the museum "to people who have too often suffered violence at the hands of history throughout the ages, people who have been brutalized, exterminated by greedy and brutal conquerors, people who have been humiliated and scorned".

(FRANCE 24 with AP)


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