The 'doyenne', the name given to the oldest known living woman in the country, has passed to 113-year old Marcelle Narbonne, a former typist who still enjoys a glass of champagne.

"/> The 'doyenne', the name given to the oldest known living woman in the country, has passed to 113-year old Marcelle Narbonne, a former typist who still enjoys a glass of champagne.

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Marcelle, 113, is France’s new ‘doyenne’

The 'doyenne', the name given to the oldest known living woman in the country, has passed to 113-year old Marcelle Narbonne, a former typist who still enjoys a glass of champagne.

She takes over from the previous doyenne, Mathilde Aussant, who died on Saturday morning. She was also 113 years old, but a month older than her successor.

Narbonne was born on March 25th 1898 in the town of Isserville, 60 kilometres from Algiers. 

Car company Renault was founded in the same year as her birth. 

At the time, the country was still in the grip of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal over treason that split the country. In that year that the writer Emile Zola wrote his famous J’accuse letter in support of the wrongly-accused officer, Alfred Dreyfus. 

She has lived to see 19 presidents and nine popes and was already 70 by the time France had its student uprisings of May 1968.

She now lives in a retirement home in Argelès-sur-mer, in the south of the country, and as well as enjoying champagne is fond of chocolate eclairs and poetry. 

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France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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