A frizzy-haired old woman wearing sandals used to sit on a stoop at the Palais-Royal in Paris. If people took her for a tramp, what did she care? Her extraordinary life was almost over. Now she could spend her afternoons eyeing passersby and cooing at stray cats. Her ghost still haunts the quiet northern arcade of the Palais-Royal. Only now there's a plaque to identify her: Colette, the extraordinary French writer who spent her last years at the edge of this garden. It doesn't list dates; vain to the last, she wouldn't have liked that. When she died at age 81 in 1954, she received a state funeral in the palace's cour d'honneur. Her coffin, surrounded by wreaths, lay under a French tricolor, and thousands came to pay their respects. -- Susan Spano Read more: Colette's Paris Upper photo: A couple enjoys the park with the Palais-Royal in Paris, in background, where Colette lived at the end of her life.
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