France’s oldest woman dies at 112

Paule Bronzini, France's oldest woman, has died at the age of 112, her retirement home announced on Wednesday.

Bronzini, who celebrated her 112th birthday on July 7, died overnight. She leaves five children, 12 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren.

A former housewife who had been a widow since 1967, Bronzini had become the oldest living Frenchwoman in June following the death of Marie-Thérèse Bardet one week after her 114th birthday.

Italian-born American Besse Cooper, 115, is the oldest woman in the world, according to the US-based Gerontology Research Group (GRG), which compiles
birth certificates of people aged over 110 years.

The GRG lists cover the Americas, Europe, Australia and Japan, but do not include Russia, China or African states.

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Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France

Honorine Rondello was born into a fishing family in Brittany in 1903 but has lived most of her life by the Côte d’Azur in south-eastern France.

Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Honorine Rondello lived here in Menton until midway through the Second World War. Photo: Guenter M. Kirchweger

She became the oldest living French person on Tuesday after the death of Grenoble resident Élisabeth Collot, who was also 113. 

Rondello moved south from Britanny for work at the age of 16 and met her husband in her new home town, Menton. 

There they lived until allied German and Italian forces evacuated the town during the Second World War and the pair moved to the village of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

She worked until she was 73 and “never wanted for anything”, Rondello told the local Var Matin newspaper. 

“At night when I can’t sleep I sometimes recall my past, my youth. We weren’t rich but we were happy, we were content with what we had,” she said. 

“Today people are never happy. The more they have, the more they want.” 

Workers at the care home where she lives described the 113-year-old as a smiling, vibrant woman who took a stroll in the garden every day without fail.  

“She’s a very humble, modest women, who’s passionate about the news,” one member of staff told the France Bleu Provence radio station. “She reads the newspaper every day and watches the news on TV,” he added.