Madame Jeanne Calment was born in Arles, France on the 21st February 1875, one year before the battle of Little Big Horn as well as when Alexander Bell patented the telephone.

When she died on the 4th of August 1997, the General Custer and his defeat were by then part of history books for some decades already. Let alone the telephone, replaced by  internet and many others of its applications.

The Birth Certificate of Jeanne Calment

Jeanne Calment died at the age of 122 5 months and 14 days.

Still to this day, she represents the person who had lived the longest in the whole history

at least according to official registers.

Jeanne Calment in her 20’s

However it is not the age per sé the most significant aspect of the French woman’s life, but rather how she got that far. Mrs Jeanne was certainly not a health enthusiast: she used to smoke, drink a glass of Portuguese wine after every meal, eat tasty spicy food, read meat and lots of chocolate but she would not have breakfast, apart from a cup or two of coffee. She certainly had a rather wealthy life during which she played different types of sports like swimming, tennis, skating, bicycle (up until 100 years); aside from that she also had several hobbies such as playing the piano and music with her friends, go hunting with her husband and climbing frozen mountains.

She kept a bright memory up until the end, which allowed her to remember episodes such as when in her 13’s she met Vincent Van Gogh, who went to buy canvas and brushes at her uncle’s shop. They said he was ugly and “damaged” by the alcohol. Throughout her life she would very often find herself pondering on why she was the only one left of her family to live. In the past years a husband, as well as the only child, died of pneumonia when she was 36 and her nephew grown up by her dead in his 34 for a car accident, all disappeared in front of her eyes.

It was just for the centenary of the arrival of  Van Gogh in Arles, in 1988, that Jeanne became a little celebrity. All the journalists arrived in the city wanted to interview her, asking for that meet up happened exactly a century before, in 1888.

Jeanne Calment when she was 22

Aside from the lucky encounter with the renowned painter, the journalists could ask about other curious matters on the woman. She had lived by herself until her 109’s when she finally gave up on relocating to a care home. At 113 years old she was the oldest living person in the world, at 114’s she cameoed in the film “Vincent and Me” becoming the oldest acting person. At 115’s she was still walking without a cane, at 120’s she beated the record as the oldest person that had ever lived and for that occasion she celebrated it by recording an album named “Time’s Mistress” with 4 rap-style songs talking about her life.

Jeanne Calment in her 40’s

There was a curious episode that Mrs Calment commented on: “in life, sometimes you make bad deals”, when it comes to the strange consequences of longevity. In 1965, when  Jeanne was 90 and had no heir, made a deal with a 47 years old lawyer who bought, with a sort of “bare ownership” type of contract. Sadly for the lawyer, he never managed to enter the house.

The man died in 1995  2 years before Jeanne’s death

She quit smoking when she hit 120 and just because she could not light her cigarettes anymore due to her blindness. She also had to quit with her glasses of Porto on the advice of her doctor and maybe all those little limitations pushed her, on her 122nd birthday, into saying: “That’s enough”, pretty straightforwardly.

and that’s what pretty much happened

Jeanne Calment died for unknown reasons, in the morning of the 4th of August 1997 at 10 am.

Vanilla Magazine - History, Culture, Mistery and Legends