At the head of Marseille for a quarter of a century (1995-2020), Jean-Claude Gaudin died this Monday at the age of 84 in his home in Var. Since the announcement of his death, messages have been pouring in to pay tribute to the man who dedicated a large part of his life to the Marseille city.

Emmanuel Macron, who formalized the death of this right-wing figure in a message on “From his city, his passion, he had the accent, the fever, the fraternity. I am thinking of his loved ones and the people of Marseillais,” continued the head of state, who has cultivated a special relationship with “the city of his heart” since his election.

Still on the social network, his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy praised a figure “uncompromising in his convictions, loyal to his loved ones and his political family”, a “such a dear friend on whom (he) has always been able to count.” The former president also spoke of his town of Bouches-du-Rhône “which he cherished like a child of the country”. “Talking with him was always an opportunity to be enriched with a thousand anecdotes, and to laugh at everything and everyone.” For his part, François Hollande paid tribute to the man who “embodied with talent and warmth a sensitivity which still matters in our country”. “His passion for Marseille was added to that which he nourished for the Republic. He always welcomed me with elegance and sympathy,” added the former socialist president. “Activist, head of the family, friend who did not forget, he was first and foremost a good man,” commented François Bayrou, boss of MoDem.

In his political family, the president of the Republicans, Éric Ciotti, was moved by the disappearance of “a friend”, with whom he took his first steps in the Provençal right within his cabinet. “I liked his cheekiness. I admired his courage. I listened to his advice. I am proud to have worked alongside him,” declared the MP for Alpes-Maritimes. “France loses a great man in the service of politics and territories, I lose a friend,” added Gérard Larcher, LR president of the Senate.

Marine Le Pen, for her part, praised the former mayor’s “passion” for “politics” and his city, “Marseille”. “With him a page in the history of the Fifth Republic turns,” she added.

Emotion has gripped the political landscape of Marseille, where Jean-Claude Gaudin was successively municipal councilor, then deputy, president of the South region, senator and finally mayor of the city. “To the one who loved Marseille, its history and its people so much, I want to pay an emotional and sincere tribute. This city will miss him. His mark will remain,” reacted the councilor of the Marseille city, Benoît Payan, who shifted the town hall to the left.

“History will remember to what extent he was a great French politician, the likes of which no longer exist,” wrote Renaud Muselier, president of the Southern Region, who spent a long time with him. “He served this city and knew how to embody it, with exceptional talent,” added the man who has since passed under the Macronist banner.

Described as the heir of Jean-Claude Gaudin during the last municipal elections, his former deputy Martine Vassal sent a final message to this “great statesman, and above all a man with an enormous heart”. “He was like a father to me, everyone knows that, but I want to write,” declared the woman who succeeded him at the head of the Aix-Marxeille-Provence metropolis.