Is France ready for its trailblazing new first lady? (+video)
Valerie Trierweiler, France's first lady, is not married to President Hollande, and she plans to continue working as a journalist.
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Yet when the British newspaper The Telegraph referred to Trierwieler in a headline yesterday as a "Rottweiler," it caused an uproar in some French media. And when the term was first used in the French presidential campaign by then-ruling party member, Lionel Luka, who is presently seeking an political alliance with Front National leader Marine Le Pen, he was censured by Mr. Sarkozy.Skip to next paragraph
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Triewieler has earned good initial marks from the public, which seems more willing to cut her slack. During a visit to the US last month, she was compared to Katherine Hepburn, had photo shoots with Michelle Obama, and scored points back home by gifting the US first lady a La Tanneur bag crafted by a popular designer from her home area of Correze. (Trierweiler’s visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was not her first; as a journalist, she covered a trip there by former French foreign minister Lionel Jospin.)
In the piece on an Eleanor Roosevelt biography that appeared yesterday, Trierweiler said that “'A journalist first lady is nothing new. Eleanor was a journalist and first lady and excelled at both while her husband guided America through the Depression… and the Second World War. “ Ms. Roosevelt “came to terms with sometimes having different opinions to FDR and refused to be reduced to silence.”
Trierweiler was born in Angers, and lost her father early; her mother earned wages as an usher at an ice skating rink. Trierweiler made her way in the tough world of French journalism; Hollande was the official partner of Ségolène Royale, with whom he had four children, when she ran for Socialist party president in 2007. But after her loss to Sarkozy he took up full time with Trierweiler, whom he describes as "the woman of my life."
In a new piece of research by two Le Monde reporters on another French journalist-politician couple, Anne Sinclair and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who are married, Trierweiler is approached by Mr. Strauss-Kahn, former IMF chief now under investigation on prostitution allegations. They report that, at a political event where Hollande is also present, he greets Treirweiler rakishly, asking, "How is France's most beautiful journalist?"
Trierweiler responds, "I thought Anne Sinclair was the most beautiful French journalist."