She remembers selling coloured pencils to Vincent Van Gogh and watching builders erect the Eiffel Tower.
Jeanne Calment has outlived the rest of her family.
But the woman said to be the world's oldest person had plenty of company and attention when she turned 120 Tuesday.
More than five thousand birthday cards from around the world arrived at Jeanne Calment's nursing home in Arles.
Journalists from around the world flocked to see her and her neighbours join in the birthday celebrations.
Hard of hearing and nearly blind, Calment has been living since 1985 at the nursing home that has been named after her.
The Guinness Book of Records lists Calment as the oldest person in the world whose age can be authenticated.
She has been the oldest person since 1991, when American Carry White died at 116.
And In seven months and 22 days, she would surpass Shigechiyo Izumi - a Japanese man who died in 1986 - as the oldest person of all time with a verifiable birth date.
Experts, including her doctor, say the secrets to her youth lie partly in genetics, and partly in her extraordinary character.
"A treat, give me a treat."
"We'll bring you a candy. I will put it in your mouth...There, you can open your mouth....there."
SOUNDBITE: (In French)
"She comes from a family that has a propensity for living long and she has been endowed with a character that is extremely strong, extremely well structured which has allowed her to face life, and I do mean face life rather that be a victim of it, regardless of how hard some events of her life have been"
SUPER CAPTION: Doctor Victor Limbre
Calment has been forced to give up her two cigarettes a day and her single glass of port before meals, but she still nibbles on chocolate and plans many more birthdays.
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