Published: 23 Oct 2012 11:12 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 23 Oct 2012 11:12 GMT+02:00
French police on Monday blocked a Canadian adultery website from posting spoof ads casting presidents Francois Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande as womanizers, the site said.
"What do all these men have in common? They should have thought of AshleyMadison.com," runs the strapline of the cheeky ad, which shows all four French heads of state, their faces plastered with lipstick kisses.
The dating website said it had tried to post giant banners guerilla-style at two Paris crossroads to mark the launch of its French site, after the ads were turned down by billboard groups as "too political".
But it was prevented from doing so by police, presumably tipped off by advance press coverage, said a statement from the firm, which resorted instead to hanging a three by six-metre (10 by 20-foot) banner from the Bir-Hakeim bridge.
"France is the home of infidelity in the eyes of the world," said Noel Biderman, founder of the site, which is aimed overtly at married individuals and whose slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair."
"We waited until we had the perfect platform to bring the French what they were missing: discretion," he said in the French-language statement.
"Photographs of presidents are in the public domain," added a spokeswoman for the company, Helene Antier.
Founded in Canada in 2002, AshleyMadison.com claims some 16 million users across 25 countries. It is banking on 2.5 million French users within 12 months.
Of the French leaders its campaign cites, late president Mitterrand is famous for leading a double life, fathering an illegitimate daughter, Mazarine Pingeot, whose existence became public shortly before he died in 1996.
Both Chirac and his wife Bernadette have acknowledged the former leader's infidelities.
Sarkozy has been repeatedly dogged by rumours -- never publicly confirmed -- of infidelity, concerning his first and second marriages, as well as his current relationship with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
And Hollande, France's current leader, is held to have begun his relationship with first lady Valerie Trierweiler while he was still officially with the Socialist politician Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children.
A man was arrested on Friday after causing a scare at the Cannes Film Festival, where he attacked a TV studio with a gun loaded with blanks and a dummy grenade, police and witnesses said. READ () »
French actor and newly-minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu on Saturday compared President Vladimir Putin to the late Pope John Paul II and said the ex-KGB agent is what Russia needs as a leader. READ () »
France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage Saturday after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate. READ () »
Struggling French oyster farmers, whose haul has diminished in recent years, are set to receive some much needed help from their Swedish counterparts, by importing oyster spats from Sweden for the first time. READ () »
France's highest court the Constitutional Council cleared the divisive gay marriage bill on Friday, paving the way for same sex unions to become legal. Francois Hollande said he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday. READ () »
While many in the world of football raised a glass to David Beckham when he announced his retirement on Thursday, elements in the French media as well as PSG fans in Paris could not hide the fact they feel a little cheated by his minimal contribution on the pitch. READ () »
Thieves have stolen Chopard jewellery worth $1 million at Cannes Film Festival, French police reported on Friday. The jewellery was due to be loaned to film stars over the coming days. READ () »
Around 750 police have been stationed at schools across the French city of Strasbourg after an anonymous person, believed to be a teenager, posted a message online threatening to commit suicide and kill several pupils at a school on Friday. READ () »
Charges of manslaughter against Martine Aubry, a leading member of France's ruling Socialist Party, were dropped on Friday by a French court. The charges related to a probe into thousands of deaths caused by exposure to asbestos. READ () »
French companies have long had a reputation for relying heavily on unpaid interns. New figures released on Friday highlighting the staggering number of interns on the payroll at banking giant Societé General will only confirm this reputation. READ () »