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Winter Circus Queen dies at 107

rfi English, Aug 28

Rosa Bouglione, pioneer of traditional French circus and patron of Paris's Cirque d'Hiver (Winter Circus) has passed away at 107.

Rosa Bouglione, the star matriarch and celebrity darling of France's legendary Bouglione circus family, has died aged 107, her relatives announced Monday.

"Right up to August 26 she remained the uncontested queen of the circus," a family statement said.

She reigned over the Cirque d'Hiver (Winter Circus) in the heart of the French capital "for nearly a century," after her husband Joseph and his three brothers bought the venue in 1934, the statement added.

"Madame Rosa received the greatest stars and welcomed the greatest international artists to this temple of the circus," which has a capacity of 1,500.

In her extraordinary life story published in 2011, Bouglione told of how she was married in a lion's den.

Born in a horse-drawn caravan to a family of performers in Belgium on December 21, 1910, under the name Rosalie Van Been, she died Sunday in Paris at her home close to the Cirque d'Hiver.

"Five generations, covering 55 children, great and great, great grandchildren will say adieu to their emblematic grandmother who has bequeathed them a love of the circus," the statement said.

The public will be able to pay their respects before the coffin at the famed Cirque d'Hiver on Wednesday ahead of a funeral mass during the afternoon.

Rosa will be buried alongside "all the members of the dynasty" at the cemetery in Lizy-sur-Ourcq, near the River Marne northwest of Paris, the family said.

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