With a sheepish smile on his face, President Nicolas Sarkozy left hospital yesterday under doctors' orders to take it easy after his collapse at the weekend.
Some confusion still surrounded the seriousness of the fainting fit which overcame the frenetic President while running in the grounds of the Palais de Versailles on Sunday. The Elysée Palace insisted yesterday that intensive medical checks had revealed no cardiac problems and that M. Sarkozy, 54, had suffered a mild "lipothymic malaise" – or fainting fit – brought on by over- exercise and heat.
However, Frédéric Lefebvre, a spokesman for President Sarkozy's centre-right party, spoke of a "heart scare" and a "warning". A close friend of the President, Patrick Balkany, mayor of Levallois-Perret, on the north-west boundary of Paris, said that the incident was a "lesson for him to calm down".
"Sometimes he needs to try a bit less hard and eat a little bit more. He's on a diet because he's always a little bit too heavy ... let's say he doesn't want to be overweight," M. Balkany said.
President Sarkozy, wearing a black suit and dark tie, left the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris walking hand in hand with his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. He shook hands with medical staff but refused to say anything to waiting journalists or bystanders.
In a statement, the Elysée Palace said M. Sarkozy had been prescribed no medication or other treatment but had been advised to slow down for a couple of days.
A speech on the protection of French heritage at the Mont Saint Michel in Normandy that had been scheduled for today has been cancelled. President Sarkozy is due in any case to start a three-week holiday on Friday at a villa belonging to Carla Bruni's family on the French Mediterranean coast.
The Elysée said that his fainting fit had "no cardiological cause or effects". No sign of any abnormality in his heart beat had been discovered by electrocardiographic tests.