Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President, appeared to quash speculation that he might return to politics when he gave his first speech on the lucrative global lecture circuit for ex-statesmen in New York on Thursday night.
Sporting a three-day growth of beard, Mr Sarkozy said that the five months since he lost the presidential election was the "longest holiday of my life but the problem is that I am very happy with that".
"I am looking for a new life but not just to give lectures," he told 340 guests of the Brazilian bank PTG Pactual at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. "What I enjoy is not politics but getting things done, whether politically or in other ways."
Though leaving the door open to a comeback, his comments appeared designed to douse speculation in France that he regretted his decision to end his career in electoral politics.
Mr Sarkozy said that, despite the recurrent crises in the eurozone, the single currency would survive. "Germany and France have no other choice but to come together," he said. "Otherwise, they will be in conflict … That's why the European idea, despite all its mistakes and failures, remains unavoidable."
According to leaks to the French press, Mr Sarkozy was paid $100,000 (£62,000) for his 40-minute lecture.