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Bernadette Chirac
Bernadette Chirac 1 (2009).jpg
Spouse of the President of France
In role
17 May 1995 – 16 May 2007
President Jacques Chirac
Preceded by Danielle Mitterrand
Succeeded by Cécilia Sarkozy
Personal details
Bernadette Thérèse Marie Chodron de Courcel

(1933-05-18) 18 May 1933 (age 90)
Paris, France
Political party Les Republicains
(m. 1956; died 2019)
Children 3, including Claude Chirac and Anh Dao Traxel (foster-daughter)
Residences Quai Voltaire, Paris (personal)
Château de Bity, Sarran, Corrèze (personal)
President Ronald Reagan, President Jacques Chirac, Nancy Reagan and Bernadette Chirac
President Ronald Reagan, President Jacques Chirac, Nancy Reagan and Bernadette Chirac (White House, 31 March 1987).

Bernadette Thérèse Marie Chirac (French pronunciation: [bɛʁnadɛt teʁɛz maʁi ʃiʁak]; née Chodron de Courcel; born 18 May 1933) is a French politician and the widow of the former president Jacques Chirac.

She and Chirac met as students at Sciences Po, and were married on 16 March 1956. They had three children: Laurence (born 4 March 1958, deceased 14 April 2016) and Claude Chirac (born 6 December 1962), and a Vietnamese foster-daughter, Anh Đào Traxel.

Since 2001, Bernadette has been the patron of Opération Pièces Jaunes, a charity that helps children in French hospitals by collecting small donations. On 3 September 2007, she became the president of the "Fondation Claude-Pompidou" (Claude Pompidou Foundation), following the death of Claude Pompidou, a former First Lady of France.

She was involved in her husband's successful 1995 presidential campaign and her personal popularity saw her play an important role as First Lady in her husband's reelection in 2002. She was also a councillor in Corrèze, the couple's home département.


Early life and education

Born in Paris on 18 May 1933, Bernadette Thérèse Marie Chodron de Courcel was the daughter of Jean-Louis Chodron de Courcel (1907–1985), sales director of Emaux de Briare Inc., and Marguerite de Brondeau d'Urtières (1910–2000). She was the oldest of three children: her sister Catherine was born in 1946 and her brother Jérôme in 1948.

Her family were devout Catholics and she received a strict upbringing from her mother. Her father was called up in 1939 and imprisoned in Germany until the end of the Second World War. In June 1940, she and her mother fled to Lot-et-Garonne, where she attended the Sainte-Marthe school in Agen. From 1941 to 1943, after the occupation of the zone libre, they fled again to Gien in the Loiret. There she attended Sainte-Marie-des-Fleurs-et-des-Fruits school until the return of her father in 1945. The family settled in the sixth arrondissement of Paris. She went to the Paris Institute of Political Studies in 1950 where she met and married her future husband. Like most women at the time, upon marrying, she did not take her degree.

Political career

  • 1971: Elected to the municipal council of Sarran (Department of Corrèze).
  • 1977: Aide to the mayor of Sarran.
  • 1979: Elected to the Departmental council of Corrèze and subsequently re-elected in March 1985, March 1992, March 1998, March 2004, March 2011 and again September 2011.
  • 1990: Founder and president of the "Association le Pont Neuf" designed to promote exchanges between young French people and young people from Asia.
  • 1991: President of an International Dance Festival.
  • 1994: President of the "Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris-Hôpitaux de France", a charitable foundation aiming to improve the day-to-day lives of the children and the elderly who have been hospitalised. She was also patron of Opération Pièces Jaunes, an annual fundraising campaign to improve conditions in children's hospitals.

Bernadette Chirac appeared in public for the last time in summer 2018, and she was no longer seen publicly at her husband's funeral service in 2019.


In 2001, Bernadette participated in a series of transcribed interviews with the conservative journalist, Patrick de Carolis. The book was called Conversation and was a bestseller, selling 350,000 copies in its first year of publication.


Blason famille Chodron de Courcel
Arms of the Chodron de Courcel family.

Immediate family

  • Father: Jean Chodron de Courcel (1907–1985), sales director. Studied at Eton followed by Cambridge University.
  • Mother: Marguerite–Marie de Brondeau d'Urtières (1910–2000)
  • Paternal grandfather: Robert Chodron de Courcel, diplomat and landowner.
  • Paternal great grandfather: George Chodron de Courcel (1840–1904), naval officer.

Nobility of Bernadette Chirac

Bernadette Chirac was born into the Chodron de Courcel family, an old aristocratic family of public servants, from the Trois-Évêchés. Her family includes military officers, goldsmiths, lawyers, diplomats and industrialists. They would become owners through marriages of factories in Gien and Briare, in the Loiret, which were famed for their porcelain and enamel mosaics. Like many old French families, Bernadette Chirac has several European royal families among her ancestors. In 1852, a decree by Napoleon III authorized the addition of Courcel, one of the family's properties, to their name. In 1867, Napoleon III made Alphonse Chodron de Courcel a hereditary baron for services rendered to the State.


Robert Kocharyan, Jack Chirac, Bella Kocharyan and Bernadette Chirac in Yerevan
Robert Kocharyan, Jacques Chirac, Bella Kocharyan and Bernadette Chirac in Yerevan (30 September 2006).


  • La Conquête, a Xavier Durringer movie, which recounts the presidential campaign of the Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy en 2007, Bernadette Chirac is played by the actress Michèle Moretti.
  • La Dernière Campagne, 2013 TV movie directed by Bernard Stora which recounts the presidential campaign of 2012, Bernadette Chirac is played by the actress Martine Chevallier.
  • Madâme, le film, a John Paul Lepers' documentary, 2005.
  • La Rupture (2013), a Laurent Heynemann movie, Bernadette Chirac is played by the actress Estelle Skornik.
  • Bernadette (2023), a film by Léa Domenach focusing on her during Jacques Chirac's presidential term, Bernadette Chirac is played by the actress Catherine Deneuve.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bernadette Chirac para niños

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