Vivian Hart, 90, was found dead in her home in the Aude département of south west France, where she had served as a town councillor for seven years.
Local police reported that her death was suspicious after finding knife wounds on her face.
Her son Russel Hart, 65, has been charged with murder and placed in the custody of local mental health services in Perpignan.
Vivian was well known in the town of Trausse, where she served as a town councillor between 2001 and 2008. She was also involved in the local library service and gave free English lessons in her home.