the Marseillais moved by the disappearance of their mayor | EUROtoday

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Sou the balconies of the Marseille Town Hall, the place the flags have been lowered to half-mast and a register of condolences opened on the finish of this afternoon, Maurice and Henriette face a moist look. “The mayor is a part of our life, even if we like little Payan. For us, the mayor was Jean-Claude,” says this couple of retired caterers. “We have sometimes served it for receptions. We liked him, he always had a kind word,” remembers Henriette.

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There should not so a lot of them who strategy the locations the place Jean-Claude Gaudin, who died of a cardiac arrest this Monday morning of Pentecost in his home in Saint-Zacharie (Var), held the reins of town for twenty- 5 years. The present mayor, Benoît Payan, who typically visited him in the home in Mazargues the place his predecessor was born, within the southern districts of town, just isn’t there. He went to pay homage to him at Saint-Zacharie. “His departure pains me infinitely, he seemed unsinkable, this city will miss him, his trace will remain,” he wrote simply earlier than going to the Var.

Jean-Claude Gaudin, heat and easy

In the Old Port, the place vacationers stroll beneath a grey sky, it’s extra needed to show to folks of a sure age to mild up their eyes. But few, nonetheless, are conscious. “You’re telling me that and it’s very sad,” says Mireille Canossa, a retired childminder. I bear in mind him in the future on the platform. He was within the automobile, he had the window open and was asking those that acknowledged him how they have been doing, a bit like we have been household. I actually appreciated his simplicity, he was a heat individual, he exuded quite a lot of sympathy.”

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Just a little additional beneath the arcades, Delphine Roux, the proprietor of “Madie les Galinettes”, the place Jean-Claude Gaudin had his spherical desk, eyeing the lamb shanks, doesn’t cover disappointment. “He came to eat a month and a half ago,” she says. I referred to as him recurrently. I bear in mind him as a beneficiant, humane man, who checked on the kids and introduced them books. He remembered everybody's first title and got here into the kitchen to say hiya. He was a lover of life and of Marseille.” She stops for a second, smiles, remembering the character, the anecdotes he conveyed. “One day, while he was having a quick lunch with Monsignor Aveline before going to see a rugby match at the Vélodrome, Jean-Luc Mélenchon arrived and called out to him. They respected each other. But at the moment when Mr. Mélenchon asks him something, the mayor turns to Mgr. Aveline and says, ''Oh, wait, before he confesses to me, you will have to exorcise him!''” Big burst of laughter.

The visit of Pope Francis, a consecration

A great gourmand, the former senator, who spoke regularly on the telephone with Gérard Larcher and his friend Hubert Falco, the former mayor of Toulon, did not leave only memories in Marseille restaurants, even if he had his habits a few tables from the cornice. This only son of a mason and a housekeeper who had no children, had made politics his adopted family. He shared his confidences and his life between the winding alleys of the right and the center, while offering himself more enlightened paths within the Catholic religion.

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He, who had links with Opus Dei, happily shared his table with Georges Pontier, the former bishop who sent him some foie gras from the South-West where he returned. Cardinal Aveline remembers “an always faithful friend. Behind this life dedicated to public affairs, to the ups and downs of political life, we remember the man of heart and the lover of his dear city of Marseille.” At the Palais du Pharo where he had an office, Jean-Claude Gaudin was in charge of Marseille Espérance, an ecumenical association bringing together representatives of all religions. “It allowed me to keep in touch with the rumors of the city,” he told us. But everyone knows that I am sprinkled with holy water.” The arrival of Pope Francis in September 2023 in Marseille resonated like a consecration. “I wouldn’t say that I can die peacefully after his visit, but there is a bit of that all the same,” he confided to us.

A page of the city turns

While the political tributes multiplied, a simple rose with a “thank you Jean-Claude” was placed on the door handle of his house, in the Mazargues district in the south of the city. Very close to the cemetery where he will be buried, not far from the grave of Bernard Tapie, after a service at the Major Cathedral. Many personalities are expected there, as well as the multitude of Marseille. “He was the father of all Marseillais,” underlines Philippe Korcia, president of the Departmental Employers’ Union. For the economic world, thanks to his extraordinary network, he was an indisputable facilitator. Today, a page in the history of our city is turning.”

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Networks that he knows how to use, offering his protective arm to those he chooses, like Sabrina Agresti-Roubache. “I lose a precious friend, a guide, a confidant,” slips the Marseille Minister of the City, “distraught”. Just like his former first deputy, Roland Blum, with whom the friendship has never started for more than forty years. “I spoke to him on the phone on Friday, he was doing well,” he breathes. We had lunch together eight days ago, it’s true that he was tired, but his head was there.” Bernard Deflesselles, another of his close friends, a former deputy for Aubagne who had recently shared the table with “the mayor”, remembers “the exceptional speaker, the extraordinary debater whose loyalty we could count on. He was an unwavering support.” Nicolas Pagnol, the writer's grandson, does not hesitate to imagine “a spot within the Pantheon of the nice Marseillais.” “It’s a piece of history that’s gone.”

In Mazargues, where the neighbors remain discreet, sometimes surprised to know that Jean-Claude Gaudin was born there and still lived there part of the week, we must turn to Marie, the housekeeper who accompanied him for “greater than twenty years”, giving him injections and cooking, to know the opposite aspect of the general public persona. “He was a very kind, understanding, simple and personable person. I am shocked and saddened by his death.” Quite merely.