It was the snap that France’s celebrity glossies had been waiting for - the presidential couple in their smalls on their summer break.
“Normal right down to their bathing suits,” joked VSD magazine’s front page - a nod to President Francois Hollande’s election promise that he would be a ‘normal’, down-to-earth leader.
But Mr Hollande’s girlfriend, France’s ‘First Lady’ Valérie Trierweiler, was not so impressed by the photos taken of her sporting a black bikini on beach in the south of France. Lawyers for the 47-year-old journalist sent letters to celebrity magazines including Paris Match, where she still works, threatening them with legal action if the pictures were printed. Paris Match did not print the shots on its cover, but several others did.
“We did get some friendly pressure from the journalist First Lady,” VSD’s deputy editor, Christophe Carron, told French media. “And I imagine our competitors got a similar warning,” he said.
During the tenure of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the French grew somewhat used to revealing pictures of the first couple on holiday. Mr Sarkozy and his second wife while in office, the former supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were photographed on several summer breaks at the palatial presidential retreat at Fort de Brégançon on the French Riviera.
In 2010, a visibly pregnant Ms Bruni-Sarkozy was snapped by photographers in her bikini just yards from where the offending shots of Ms Trierweiler were taken.
This is not the first controversy to have hit Ms Trierweiler in the months since Mr Hollande took power. During the country’s parliamentary elections in June, she posted a messaged on Twitter showing her support for a candidate standing against Ségolène Royal, Mr Hollande’s former partner and the mother of his children. Ms Royal, a former Socialist presidential hopeful, blamed her defeat on the tweet.
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