After his discreet wedding, there will be no honeymoon today for President Nicolas Sarkozy but a very public visit to a steelworks.
France's new first lady, Carla Sarkozy, née Bruni, is not expected to travel to the closure-threatened ArcelorMittal steel mill at Gandrange, in Lorraine, nor to accompany him when he jets off to Romania for the rest of the day.
Her first big outing as the première dame of France may well be a state visit to London scheduled for the end of March. The Sarkozys are expected to stay with the Queen at Windsor Palace and President Sarkozy is also said to have asked to visit Stonehenge.
News that M. Sarkozy, 53, had married the Franco-Italian pop singer, 40, in a brief ceremony in the "green room" beside the presidential office in the Elysée Palace leaked to the radio station, RTL.
Only 20 people attended the 10-minute ceremony on Saturday morning, mostly close family members and friends from the worlds of showbusiness, fashion and luxury goods. The only other politician present was the mayor of the eighth arrondissement of Paris, François Lebel, a dissident member of M Sarkozy's party, who performed the ceremony.
Afterwards, the wedding party and other friends celebrated at the president's weekend retreat, La Lanterne, which adjoins the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris.
His office waited seven hours before confirming that the wedding had taken place and the secrecy surrounding it contrasted with the willingly tolerated media hullabaloo surrounding the start of their romance. Marisa Bruni-Tedeschi, M. Sarkozy's new mother-in-law, was quoted in the Italian press as saying: "You know, Carla falls in love with powerful men, she doesn't do it deliberately, she just has a weakness for leaders. But this time I have the feeling it's going to work out."
This morning's visit to the Gandrange steelworks falls conveniently for the President. The Elysée is anxious to show that M. Sarkozy did not let a small thing like his own wedding distract from his work. Before and after the ceremony on Saturday, he was said to have made two telephone calls to the rebellion-threatened President of Chad and one to President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
President Sarkozy's popularity has plunged in recent weeks – by another 11 points according to one opinion poll published on Saturday. Pollsters blame in part an annoyance at his glitzy, showbiz lifestyle. Older voters, a vital part of the Sarkozy winning coalition last May, are said to be especially displeased with the high-profile nature of his private life.
M. Sarkozy promised he would restore respect for traditional values. Yet he was divorced from his second wife, Cécilia, just 14 weeks ago. His new wife, whom he met in late November, told Le Figaro magazine last year that she was "bored stiff by monogamy".
She has previously been linked romantically with, among others, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Donald Trump and the former Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius.
The Elysée Palace insists that M. Sarkozy has been the victim, rather than the instigator, of the international fascination with the whirlwind romance between a right-wing president and a left-wing pop-singer. Speaking privately, a member of his own party says that M. Sarkozy has been behaving like a character in a comic movie "boasting about Carla's beauty and her jewels".
The President is said to have commented during a lunch with Tony Blair in Paris a fortnight ago: "You see how beautiful she is. And she's got brains as well. That makes a change."
This is presumed to have been a barb directed at his former wife, Cécilia.Reuse content