19th Century Romance and Murder in France

A story of romance and murder in France begins with a 30-year-old man named Antoine Roure, who was described as tall, strong, with a long face and blue eyes. He also had a beard and dark-blond hair. He belonged to one of the richest families in Marseilles, possessed a considerable fortune, and owned a villa in Blancarde in a nearby suburb of Marseilles.

romance and murder in France

Marseilles, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1874, Roure obtained lodgings at a house in Marseilles, and it was there that he met the daughter of the owner, Rose Delahaye. At the time, she was barely 17 years old, but Roure was immediately intrigued and she fell madly in love with him. It became all the more romantic for Delahaye after Roure promised to marry her, and, in fact, his promise of marriage caused Delahaye to begin an intimate relationship with him.

Despite Roure’s promise to marry Delahaye, he continued to delay and provide excuses. Finally, he abandoned her completely, although he did send her money from time to time. She was crushed but soon took a new lover, another rich man from Marseilles. But her second relationship did not last long because Roure returned and Delahaye began to see him again. He eventually took a new apartment located in Marseilles in Allées-Des-Capucines, and she then began to live with him. They lived together amicably for about six weeks.

On 18 December of 1877, after dining as usual, Delahaye went to her bed and began to read. Roure sat in an armchair nearby, also pretending to read. About two o’clock in the morning, Delahaye was at last fast asleep and it was then that Roure extinguished the night-lamp, rolled up his white pocket-handkerchief that contained his initials, and “passed it gently round her neck and strangled her.”[1] Having committed the awful crime of murder, he then left her body in the bed and slept on the sofa.

Roure knew he had to cover his tracks, and so the next morning he hid her body in a dressing-room so that his cleaning lady would not find her. He also bought a trunk in which he placed the body and used it transport her body to his villa at Blancarde. To further prevent discovery that Delahaye was missing, he told everyone she had gone to Grenoble. He then thought it was prudent that he should go to Grenoble, the town that was the site of the Day of the Tiles, which was one of the first disturbances that preceded the French Revolution and is called by some historians the start of the revolution. From there he took a train to Orange, which was about 120 miles away, and rented a room. Remorse soon overtook him and he began to feel guilty. He then attempted suicide by firing two shots into his body, but he failed to kill himself.

Hotel clerks later discovered Roure wounded but alive. He asked for the Procurer of the Republic and he was brought to Roure’s bedside. Roure then spilled the whole sordid story. He told how he had strangled Delahaye and how she had struggled. The procurer then sent a telegram to law officers in Marseilles, and they immediately went to Roure’s country place, conducted a search and found “in a dark room on the ground floor, hidden in the corner under a heap of old clothes, they found a long, carefully fastened-up box, resembling a … coffin, in which the body of a young woman was discovered.”[2] When the trunk was opened, it was a grim discovery:

“The body was laid out with lace and colored ribbon, and neatly folded up in a sheet of fine linen. The face was enveloped in a pocket-handkerchief of Valenciennes lace. An examination of the body showed at once that the deceased had died of strangulation, the mark of a rope being still visible round the neck.”[3]

Roure’s case was presented at the Court at Assizes at Aix. He claimed he had deep affection for Delahaye but that it was not enough as “he knew … [she] did not [love him] … he was jealous and gave way to an irresistible [urge].”[4] Thus, his defense was that his passions were exploited by Delahaye and he was subsequently attacked by madness. Although the jury quickly convicted Roure of Delahaye’s of premeditated murder, they apparently decided there were extenuating circumstances because rather than pronouncing a sentence of death upon him, “he was … condemned to hard labour for life.”[5]


  • [1] “A Romance and Murder in France,” in Lincolnshire Chronicle, 12 April 1878, p. 2.
  • [2] “Strange Tragedy in France,” in The Queanbeyan Age, 1 June 1878, p. 1.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] “Le Cadavre de la Blancarde,” in Le Petit Journal, 6 April 1878, p. 2.
  • [5] “France,” in Western Times, 08 April 1878, p. 4.

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