C’EST si bon, is a song written and composed in 1947 by Henri Betti with the lyrics by André Hornez, and made popular by black legend Louis Armstrong. Long before that world famous song was ever written, the words ‘French’ and ‘love’ have been almost synonymous with the rest of the world.
Surely, romance is what comes most prominently to mind when people think of the French, especially when it comes to the intrigue side of things. Not surprisingly, some of the most fascinating contemporary international fascinations have involved top French figures since the days of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais in the 18th century.
In 2012, IMF top brass and powerful French politician Dominique Strauss Khan who was once a front-runner to become the president of France, engaged in the most costly sexual romp of his life when he agreed to shell out an amount rumoured to be about $6 million to a 33-year-old former housekeeper at the upmarket Sofitel hotel in Manhattan.
Nafissatou Diallo who had accused him of attempted rape in 2011, was not alone as DSK already had a robust reputation for womanizing. The world had followed with utter amusement- if not delight- as his presidential ambitions dissipated into thin air as accusation upon accusation was piled upon his person. Eventually, he was accused in sundry criminal charges including ‘pimping’ and ‘attending orgies all over the world in which politicians, police chiefs and captains of industry used highly paid prostitutes’.
It was at a time that swanky Nicolas Sarkozy had been president. Thrice married Sarkozy had added model turned singer Carla Bruni to the number after he was voted in, and their romance had been discussed along with the politics throughout his presidency.
Boasting about his wife’s breasts
Some, in fact, believed his ‘trophy wife’- 13 years his junior- would cost him a second term in 2017. An aide, Patrick Buisson recorded Sarkozy in a tell-tale memoir as boasting about his wife’s breasts during an official meeting as president.
It cost the former 20,000 dollars in a libel payout, but he had made far more than that at the expense of his erstwhile boss. Buisson had branded his marriage to Carla Bruni as an embarrassment to France, but the rest of the world is anything but judgmental. There is one set of expectations for leaders in the rest of the free world; then there is another for France.
It is probably why the marital anomaly of the newly-elected French president and First Lady is making more news than the politics of the elections itself. Even for the French, the love story of Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron has catapulted the rest of the world into not only a new level of fascination for the liberal country, but for true love – a fading concept globally.
Back home we say there is a great woman behind every successful man, but it might well be so for the Macrons- and the world is even more curious about Brigitte than about the president himself.
She is an heiress: Brigitte’s parents were Jean Trogneux and Simone Pujol. They had six children, with Trogneux as the youngest.
Trogneux’s family is well-known in the north of France for their chocolates. Her nephew, Jean-Alexandre Trogneux, leads the family business, which made four million euros in 2013.
She was unknown, pre-politics: Both complete unknowns when Macron was appointed economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government in August 2014, Brigitte resigned from her teaching job a year later to help her ambitious young husband.
At the economy ministry, she was a discreet presence during meetings with officials in the modernist Bercy building by the Seine in eastern Paris.
“She spends a lot of time here because her view matters to me, because she brings a different atmosphere, that is important. My life is here, you cannot work well if you are not happy,” Macron said in his last staff meeting after he resigned from the Hollande government in August 2016.
She is Uber-Stylish: While her main interests are literature and education, Brigitte is a regular fixture on the Paris fashion scene. Since stepping into the public eye, she has been garnering attention for her impeccable campaign wardrobe, which included new season Louis Vuitton and Dior.
You’re just as likely to see her in a pair of skintight leather trousers and stilettos, as you would a shift dress and tailored blazer.
French magazines describe her style as “modern” and praise her “cool attitude” and “wonderwoman” look. Vogue magazine described as her “chic-bobo aesthetic”.
Delphine de Canecaude, a Paris-based art director, told L’Express magazine: “She’s rock’n’roll. Not for a second does she say, ‘I’m 63, so I cannot wear short skirts.’ Twelve-inch heels, sleeveless dresses, leather trousers, she dares everything. She is a mega wonder woman.”
She believes her role is by her husband’s side: And her husband continues to milk this to good effect, promising a more defined role for her office without tax payers’ money. Brigitte has also made it clear that she will continue to be her husband’s biggest champion. “I’ve been involved in everything at his side for 20 years,” she said at a campaign speech. “You always seem surprised that spouses are beside their husbands. It’s time for things to evolve. That’s where we belong.”
She has accused the press of “Ingrained Misogyny”: The couple’s 25-year age difference has been a source of ridicule not only for the French press but also globally.
The couple have responded to the media’s “obsession” by claiming it attests to ingrained misogyny, pointing out that Donald and Melania Trump, whose age gap is exactly the same, have not faced any scrutiny about their relationship. Actually, they have – but we get the point.
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