Ce n'est pas l'amour, c'est... La guerre: Sarkozy's ex remarries – with revenge on the wedding menu

If the 'bling-bling' French President thought this week's state visit would yield him some decent PR, he forgot about his ex-wife. Her New York nuptials seem to have been designed to overshadow his trip to London. Cole Moreton reports

Sunday 23 March 2008 01:00 GMT
Cécilia was due to wear Versace until the fashion house inadvertently told the world where and when the wedding would be
Cécilia was due to wear Versace until the fashion house inadvertently told the world where and when the wedding would be (Reuters)

She could have "Je Ne Regrette Rien". But an even sweeter choice of wedding song when Cécilia Ciganer-Albeniz takes the first dance with her new husband in New York today would be "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)".

It is only five months since she divorced her husband of 11 years, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. He wasted no time in meeting and marrying a much younger model (literally) in Carla Bruni, who is also a singer. But today it is Madame's turn to marry again.

"Friends" are reportedly calling it a revenge wedding, brought forward after the Sarkozys' hasty nuptials. The timing means it will dominate the media in France over the next few days, stealing a march on the President's state visit to Britain, which starts on Wednesday. The new First Lady may get to ride in a royal coach down the Mall, but first the old one intends to be seen looking regal at her own great occasion.

A comparison between the two weddings leaves no doubt whose is intended to have the most va-va-voom. Carla had just 20 guests to a 10-minute ceremony next door to the presidential office in Paris last month. Cécilia has invited 150 people to celebrations lasting three days on the other side of the Atlantic.

Carla (marrying for the first time at 40) got a wedding lunch at the Ritz, a night in a hunting lodge at Versailles and... er, that was it. Aides hoped brevity would avoid fuelling her husband's increasingly damaging image as "President Bling-Bling".

Cécilia (marrying for the third time at 50) started with a party at her fiancé's house in the Connecticut countryside on Friday night before moving on with her guests to Manhattan yesterday for a Tex Mex meal and the Abba musical Mamma Mia! on Broadway. Today there is to be a party at the Rockefeller Center.

As President, Nicolas Sarkozy broke with French tradition by declaring his love for America. His ex-wife has gone one step further, by declaring her own love for an actual American. He is Richard Attias, 48, an event planner born in Morocco and now based in the States.

The all-important dress has proved problematic. Carla wore a white Hermès number and looked, according to the mayor who married them, "ravishing, as ever". Cécilia was due to wear Versace until the fashion house inadvertently told the world where and when the wedding would be. She threatened to get a dress elsewhere, merci beaucoup, but as of yesterday was believed to be sticking with Versace after all.

The secrecy had been blown anyway by Le Bon Marché, a Paris store that made the wedding list freely available on its website. Ralph Lauren pillow cases and a Wedgwood sugar bowl were among the hoped-for items. Her 53-year-old ex-husband has been slated for his lavish tastes, including Ray-Ban shades, flashy watches and a BlackBerry he checked for texts while meeting the Pope.

Texts do cause him trouble. Recent reports claimed he sent one to his ex-wife eight days before his wedding, saying: "If you come back, I'll call it off." He denied sending it. Carla said the reporter had apologised to her. Cécilia denied receiving it, although she couldn't resist saying her former husband had a "behavioural problem" only she could control.

Now, though, she has a new husband and a new life in America. There is nothing left to prove. That is why, after winning the battle of the weddings today, she is expected to say, "Fini".

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