Giscard, who served as France’s leader from 1974 to 1981, had recently been hospitalised in Tours with respiratory problems and was released only to return back to the hospital in mid-November.
He died at his family home nearby after suffering from complications linked to the virus, according to a statement issued by the foundation he had set up and chaired.
“His state of health had worsened and he died as a consequence of Covid-19,” his family said in a statement to AFP.
The Foundation Valéry Giscard d’Estaing tweeted: “In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in the strictest family intimacy.”
Giscard was known for steering the modernisation of French society during his presidency, including allowing divorce by mutual consent and legalising abortion.
He was elected president at 48, coming to power after years of Gaullist rule, and sought to liberalise the economy and social attitudes. He was credited with launching major projects including France’s high-speed TGV train network.
The head of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party in parliament, Christophe Castaner, said: “His modern and resolutely progressive policies … will long mark his legacy.”