France: what really matters
François Durand/Getty Images France may be on the verge of a historic shift away from a socialist model, but the country is transfixed not so much by new President Nicolas Sarkozy’s laissez-faire economic reforms, but by his wife. I don’t blame them: Cécilia Sarkozy is fascinating, and her behavior raises more questions than answers. Why, ...
François Durand/Getty Images
France may be on the verge of a historic shift away from a socialist model, but the country is transfixed not so much by new President Nicolas Sarkozy’s laissez-faire economic reforms, but by his wife. I don’t blame them: Cécilia Sarkozy is fascinating, and her behavior raises more questions than answers. Why, for instance, did the famously insouciant “première dame de France” ditch her husband’s May 6 victory speech, and finally—after some serious begging by her daughters—show up at a late-night political rally dourly dressed and barely able to conceal her boredom? And why did the former Schiaparellie model disappear in the run-up to the election and then decline to even cast a ballot? And what of those photos from 2005 of her cavorting with advertising exec Richard Attias in New York?
The tale of Cécilia and Nicolas began when young Sarko, then mayor of Neuilly, officiated at Cécilia’s wedding to her first husband. According to legend, he fell in love on the spot. He pursued her for 12 years (never mind that he was also married at the time—this is France we’re talking about) until, having finally seduced the object of his desire, he abandoned his wife for Cécilia, and she abandoned her husband.
Then, in 2005, at the height of a Sarko-orchestrated media blitz meant to showcase the candidate’s photogenic family to the French public, Cécilia dropped out of sight. While she would later complain that she’d been overexposed by her husband’s campaign, she had, first and foremost, fallen for another man. Or was she getting even? Sarkozy himself had fallen for Anne Fulda, the Le Figaro journalist assigned to cover his campaign.
So, does that slightly awkward election night kiss signify a détente between the two Sarkozys? Perhaps, but considering Cécilia’s ambivalence toward the Elysee Palace—she famously announced that the idea of being a first lady “bores me”—there will no doubt be much frisson-inducing speculation over France’s combustible first couple over the coming months and years.
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