US school children warm to chic Carla Bruni

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy turned up the heat on her first trip to Washington as France's first lady, visiting a school in a poor neighbourhood and lunching at Ben's Chili Bowl.

The ex-top model later met US first lady Michelle Obama for dinner with their husbands - behind firmly closed doors in the Obamas' private residence quarters in the White House, leaving the curious guessing about how the glamorous four got along and whether their children joined them.



The White House put such a clamp on the dinner details that not even the menu was released.



Youngsters at Washington's KIPP DC charter school were over the moon at their visitor and her entourage of bodyguards and serenaded her with Ain't No Mountain High Enough.



Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy read them a book from the Madeline series about a girl living in France - in English, which the Italian-born French first lady speaks fluently. When eighth-graders asked her about her favourite museum she responded, to their delight: "If you come to Paris I'll bring you to the Louvre and I'll show you the Mona Lisa, and then we'll go to the restaurant."



Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, who took up a singing career after quitting the catwalk and is now active in foundations fighting illiteracy and Aids, had surprised pupils at Juilliard Music School with a visit the day before in New York.



Yesterday, after the motorcade bell rang and her school visit ended, she joined her husband, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and his 12-year-old son Louis for lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl, a diner that has been a long-time fixture in Washington's black community and is a frequent stop for politicians and celebrities.



Barack Obama ate his first meal at the local landmark several days before his inauguration last year.



Mr Obama, standing alongside Mr Sarkozy at a White House appearance later, noted that the French were famous for their cuisine and remarked with a smile that the lunch choice - apparently a "half smoke" sausage - "shows his discriminating palate".



The Sarkozys' trip took on an air of a family holiday. Louis came to meetings on Capitol Hill with Senator John Kerry and House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Mr Sarkozy's gift to the Obama family was some Asterix comic books for daughters Sasha and Malia.



The Sarkozys' visit to New York at times seemed a loveathon, as they were photographed kissing in front of their hotel and in the Boathouse restaurant in Central Park, and clasping hands before and after the French president gave his speech at Columbia University.



The French first lady, though, remains an enigma for her many admirers, as well as her detractors.



She charmed the Queen but has spurned fellow first ladies during other international visits. She travels irregularly with her husband, and is reported to live in her Paris apartment part of the time instead of in the presidential palace.



But she and Michelle Obama appear to have established a rapport in their few meetings - often judged more as fashion face-offs by two fit, well-dressed and confident modern women than anything else.



Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, in her three days in the US, has been photographed wearing at least six different outfits, from a wraparound black top and grey skirt at Columbia University, to wide-leg taupe trousers at the school yesterday.



Her hairstyles kept up, with a swept-up chignon at Columbia giving way to loose tresses at Juilliard.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen for a Customer ...

Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

Recruitment Genius: Fundraising Manager / Income Generation Coach

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A smart software company locate...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project