Murder victim had been "in love with life"

ALTHOUGH friends and family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the French woman murdered in west Cork on December 23rd, have so far…

ALTHOUGH friends and family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the French woman murdered in west Cork on December 23rd, have so far refused to talk about her, four investigative reporters from the magazine Paris Match have compiled a revealing profile of the 38 year old television producer who was married to one of France's most influential cinema producers.

Their account contradicts earlier reports of a marriage gone cold. Ms Toscan du Plantier set up the office of Les Champs Blancs, the production company she founded, on the top floor of the home she shared with Daniel Toscan du Plantier in the Cite Malesherbes on Paris's right bank. The night before her departure for Ireland, she accompanied her husband to a Paris nightclub where his film company, Unifrance, held its Christmas party.

Those who met her there found her "radiant", "in top form", "playful". "She went from table to table to see friends," one guest at the party told Paris Match, "but she always came back to the table where Daniel was sitting." The magazine confirmed that Ms Toscan du Plantier had decided to return to Paris on Christmas Eve, and planned to spend New Year's Eve at the French embassy in Dakar, Senegal, with her husband. Since her tragic death, Daniel Toscan du Plantier has remained inside his family's chateau near Toulouse, just a few hundred metres from the family plot where Ms Toscan du Plantier was buried on December 30th.

Ms Toscan du Plantier was born Sophie Andree Jacqueline Bouniol on July 28th, 1957, growing up in a middle class area of Paris. Her family visited Dublin on holiday several times while Sophie was still a teenager, and she fell in love with Ireland.

Years later, divorced and with a young son, she ran the actors office at the Cannes Film Festival, where she met Daniel Toscan du Plantier in 1990. When the couple married on June 18th of the following year, Ms Toscan du Plantier was so nervous she misspelled her married name. "She was a natural girl," Mr Pierre Andre Boutang, a director of Arte television channel, told Paris Match. "She looked athletic, not sophisticated. She didn't want to be just the wife of a famous producer, so I encouraged her to become a TV producer. She took me at my word."

One of Ms Toscan du Plantier's close friends who spoke anonymously to Paris Match said: "She it cup my life."

"She was an archaeologist of the flesh, fascinated by genealogy, in love with life. She was at the same time serious and wonderfully light hearted. Incapable of being pedantic, but cultivated, precise, honest, always on the right wavelength. A true artist, she was efficient, and inspired confidence," she added.

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe is Paris Correspondent of The Irish Times