Hardy died at 80 on Tuesday
Hardy died at 80 on Tuesday AFP

France mourned the loss of a singular voice and "an icon of French song" on Wednesday, as the death of Francoise Hardy took one of the last great figures of its 1960s heyday.

Hardy's death at 80, after a long battle with cancer, was announced by her son late on Tuesday, and commemorations poured in from across France and beyond.

Several newspaper headlines used the title of her 1968 hit "Comment te dire adieu" ("How to Say Goodbye").

That was also the question of President Emmanuel Macron, who issued a statement praising "an idol of the young who became an icon of French song."

There were messages from much further afield, including from Chuck D, co-founder of pioneering hip-hop group Public Enemy.

"Us beat diggers found some vintage stuff in Francoise Hardy records #RestInBeats," he wrote on X.

Hardy long had admirers around the world, and was the only French artist in Rolling Stone's list of 200 greatest singers last year.

Mick Jagger once described her as his "ideal woman", Bob Dylan wrote a poem for her, and women everywhere imitated her androgynous style and embraced her melancholic melodies.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal praised a "singular voice with a fierce tranquillity, Francoise Hardy rocked generations of French people for whom she will remain anchored in moments of their lives."

Electro pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre recalled "the elegance of her harmonious whispers that will resonate forever in the hearts of boys and girls of all ages".

That was a nod to another hit, "Tous les garcons et les filles" ("All the Boys and Girls"), which sold two million copies in 1962 when she had just turned 18 -- and which Hardy also composed herself, a rarity at the time.

In the carefree sixties, her melancholy vibe stood out, with a restraint that contrasted with the exuberant style of Brigitte Bardot.

Prefiguring the slender models that would soon take over catwalks, she became a muse for designers such as Paco Rabanne and Yves Saint Laurent.

Her career spanned more than 50 years and almost 30 studio albums, including several film and theatre roles.

Despite battling throat cancer, she was still releasing albums in her 70s, her final being "Personne d'autre" in 2018.

Hardy kept working into her seventies despite a long battle with cancer
Hardy kept working into her seventies despite a long battle with cancer AFP
Hardy at her home in Corsica in 1977
Hardy at her home in Corsica in 1977 AFP