The woman's body was discovered on Thursday morning at her apartment in the Moulin neighbourhood of Venissieux, 15 km south of Lyon. It has since emerged that she had faced repeated threats of eviction over recent months.
The town’s Communist Party mayor, Michèle Picard, has strongly condemned the circumstances surrounding the woman’s tragic death. "My first reaction is sadness, and then anger," she told The Local on Friday.
"I'm angry because I have opposed these types of forced evictions, which are dangerous. This is exactly what I said would happen," she added.
“What kind of a society could allow women and men to die amid almost total indifference?” she said in a statement on Thursday.
In October 2011, a court ordered the woman be removed from her home, and authorities from the department of Rhône last month instructed law enforcement officials to execute the eviction order.
Officials from the Rhone department claim to have made several offers of alternative accommodation, even in the same apartment block, but the woman rejected them, according to a statement quoted by French daily Le Parisien.
Describing the woman's death as an example of "the horrible reality of human suffering and despair,” Picard said in a statement: “After a life of labour, you should be able to live in peace."
The mayor herself appears to have attempted to intervene on the woman’s behalf, but in her “fragile and isolated state”, the tenant did not show up to a meeting in late February.
The 72-year-old appears to have become withdrawn, and didn’t reply to letters or phone calls from Rhone authorities or social services, Le Parisien reported.