PARIS (AP) _ Brigitte Sauzay, who worked to bolster German-French relations and advised German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, died Tuesday, a colleague said. She was 55.

Sauzay was ill for several months, said Dieter Rehwinkel, managing director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for German-French Cooperation. He declined to give the cause of her death, which occurred in Paris.

In a condolence note to Sauzay's family, Schroeder honored her for contributing to understanding between the two countries, which reconciled after two world wars to play a pivotal role in building the European Union.

``We have lost a treasured colleague and a fine person,'' Schroeder wrote.

Sauzay, a native of the southern French city of Toulon, studied translation and began her career as an interpreter for former President Georges Pompidou in the early 1970s. She also gave German lessons to Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the finance minister who later became France's president.

Later, Sauzay was an interpreter for former President Francois Mitterrand, who put her great knowledge of Germany to use.

``I wrote notes about Germany, not only hard facts about gross domestic product and other statistics, but for example, about how people live in cities like Hamburg,'' Sauzay once said.

Sauzay, who wrote several books, also co-founded the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for German-French Cooperation with the historian Rudolf von Thadden. The institute, originally a private endeavor, is now sponsored by companies, the state of Brandenburg and the German and French foreign ministries, among others.

In the 1990s, Schroeder appointed Sauzay an adviser on German-French relations. She helped restore ties after a 2000 EU summit in Nice that put Schroeder at odds with French President Jacques Chirac, who had blocked Germany's push for privileged voting weight in EU bodies.

The goodwill culminated with January celebrations marking 40 years of reconciliation between the two nations.

Sauzay is survived by her husband, the economist Christian Stoffaes, and three children.