Valery Giscard d’Estaing

Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing dies at age 94

PARIS — Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, has died at the age of 94, his office and the French presidency announced Wednesday night.

 Valery Giscard d’Estaing

Former French President of France Valéry Giscard from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration and was instrumental to the country’s expansion of nuclear energy and high-speed rail but lost his bid for reelection during economic recession, died Wednesday, according to French media reports quoting the Elysée Palace.

Giscard d’Estaing, 94, was reportedly suffering from breathing trouble on

Nov. 16 and placed in intensive care. He was France’s longest living former president.

Giscard d’Estaing was a lifelong politician, serving in the cabinets of French Prime Ministers Jacques Chaban-Delmas and Pierre Messmer and later as minister of finance and economic affairs under President Charles de Gaulle and President Georges Pompidou.

 Valery Giscard d’Estaing

Giscard d’Estaing was elected president at the age of 48 in 1974, narrowly defeating socialist François Mitterand during a time of cultural modernization and economic upheaval. He was the youngest president of the Fifth Republic, a record that would stand until the election of President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 at the age of 39.

He pushed the country toward a reliance on nuclear power as the country’s main energy source. He’s also credited with approving the creation of the country’s high-speed train service, the TGV, in the 1970s, that is still in use today.