Former French president Jacques Chirac, who led France from 1995 to 2007, died on Thursday morning at the age of 86, his son-in-law told Reuters.
"He passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his loved ones," his son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux said. The head of the lower house of the French parliament interrupted a sitting of the chamber to hold a minute's silence.
Chirac, France's second-longest serving president dominated French politics for decades.
Following in the footsteps of previous French leader Charles de Gaulle, Chirac tried to elevate France's status as a player on the world stage. He stirred national pride with his opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
After leaving public office, he suffered from neurological problems, and was rarely seen in public at the end of his life.