Niort (AFP)

The gendarmes were actively looking for Saturday in Deux-Sèvres and in Vendée Marie-France Garaud, French political figure of the 70s, ex-adviser to presidents Pompidou and Chirac, and whose "worrying disappearance" was reported during the night.

The alert was given around 2:00 am by the staff of the castle where Ms. Garaud, 86 years old, lives in Saint-Pompain, we learned from the Deux-Sèvres gendarmerie. Ms. Garaud was nowhere to be found, and the entourage explained that she had left with her vehicle.

The gendarmerie made the connection with a reported vehicle, with an elderly person alone on board, around 10:40 pm Friday evening in the forest of Mervent, about twenty kilometers, in the bordering department of Vendée.

The car, which looked like that of the disappeared, was driving full headlights with poor driving, and passed several times in the same place, said the gendarmerie.

Research, in the forest in particular, involved from the second part of the night about twenty gendarmes, both in Deux-Sèvres and in Vendée. They were actively continuing on Saturday morning, concentrated in these two departments, with more than thirty soldiers mobilized, the support of a helicopter and dog handlers, the commander of the Deux-Sèvres group told AFP. , Colonel Jean-Pascal Chateau.

The report by witnesses of the vehicle, a compact light gray Toyota 4X4, at the gendarmerie, had been made Friday evening because the car was rolling zigzagging, said a source close to the file. According to this source, the entourage of Ms. Garaud would have mentioned "orientation problems" of the octogenarian.

The wanted notice issued by the gendarmerie specifies that Ms. Garaud left her home dressed in denim pants and a dark green jacket, "without her papers, without telephone and means of payment". And that she "could be confused".

- Candidate in 1981, support of Le Pen in 2017 -

The gendarmerie was carrying out checks on Saturday, and one of the unknowns was about the vehicle's fuel autonomy and the distance that the missing could potentially travel, said a source close to the investigation.

Marie-France Garaud, who was a close adviser to President Georges Pompidou then the gray eminence of Jacques Chirac, exerted, often in the shadows, an influence assumed in the political France of the 1970s.

In 1981, this historic Gaullist ran in the presidential election, defending in particular a "moral rearmament" of the West. It had obtained only 1.32% of the vote. A fierce opponent of the Europe of Maastricht, she was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004.

In April 2017, during one of her last noticed political interventions, Ms. Garaud had in an interview with Le Figaro displayed her sovereignist ideas, defended a departure from France from the European Union, and provided support to Marine Le Pen before the second round.

The mayor of Saint-Pompain, Christiane Bailly, expressed Saturday to an AFP correspondent the "emotion" in the village of a thousand inhabitants, where Mrs. Garaud had acquired in the early 1970s the Château des Moulières a little away from the village, and where she has lived "for many years".

"We saw her regularly until a year or two ago," said Ms. Bailly. "I had the pleasure of marrying his grandson last year. We are in great concern, and his relatives too, who want discretion and that their privacy is respected," she added. .

© 2020 AFP