Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President'sFamilies Unite in Mourning

PARIS -- The two families of Fran?ois Mitterrand were united in mourning Thursday -- the wife and two sons the world knew, and the daughter and companion whose existence was revealed publicly only 15 months ago.


Danielle Mitterrand and sons Gilbert and Jean-Christophe accompanied the former French president on his final journey from Paris to his hometown, Jarnac, in the same plane and minibus as Anne Pingeot and her daughter Mazarine, 21.


The long-hidden women in his life walked behind Danielle in the funeral procession entering Jarnac's Saint Pierre church, before about 400 other relatives and close friends.


The scene typified the ambiguities in Mitterrand's life.


He and his wife had recently bought a burial plot on a historic site of ancient Gaul in his constituency of Chateau-Chinon. But in the end, he chose to be buried with his parents in his birthplace in southwestern France.


Mitterrand died at a Paris apartment adjoining his private office, where he spent most of his time after leaving office last year, rather than at the Latin Quarter flat in Rue de Bievre that was his family home for decades.


The veil of discretion surrounding his dual private life, an open secret in the political establishment, was torn aside in 1994 when Paris-Match magazine published the first pictures of Mazarine strolling with her father.


In its defense, the magazine said it was sure Mitterrand, who was deeply fond of his natural child, wanted her existence to be made public as his death approached.


Mitterrand had the last laugh on Paris-Match. After he died, the magazine rushed out a special edition that opened with a photograph of the view of rolling countryside from the Mont Beuvray plot where he decided in the end not to be buried.


Faithful to both families, the former president spent Christmas in the southern Egyptian resort of Aswan with Mazarine, a philosophy student, and her mother, a curator at Paris' Orsay museum.


He then celebrated New Year's Eve with his wife, sons and close friends in his country home in Latche in southwest France.