• France's news in English

Hollande has turbulent first day

AFP · 16 May 2012, 07:20

Published: 16 May 2012 07:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Francois Hollande had quite a first day as French president: swearing in, Champs Elysees parade in torrential rain, then a lightning strike to his plane en route to meet the world's most powerful woman.


Hollande could already consider himself unlucky with the one-in-a-million lightning strike that delayed his visit to Berlin to see Chancellor Angela Merkel and his luck with the weather did not improve as he arrived in Germany.

Where two hours before there was sunshine, unseasonal drizzle ensured Hollande suffered his second dousing of the day as he arrived at Merkel's squat grey chancellery for crunch talks on the eurozone debt crisis.

Merkel was all smiles as she greeted the new president and appeared relaxed throughout. Hollande, on his first foreign trip as France's leader, seemed stiffer and less at ease, only sometimes cracking a smile.

The leaders of Europe's two powerhouses engaged in a brief handshake -- gone the kisses on the cheeks Merkel had with Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy -- then squelched onto the red carpet, flanked by a military band.

Waving briefly to a handful of onlookers huddled under umbrellas, the two leaders stood side-by-side for the two national anthems, she in her customary pose with hands clasped at her front, he almost standing to attention.

With the build-up to the meeting dominated by fears of a clash, the two literally clashed physically at one point on the red carpet, Merkel gently ushering Hollande back on track.

The journey across the Rhine was anything other than auspicious, with Hollande's presidential Falcon forced to return to Paris "for safety reasons and as a precaution" after being hit by lightning.

At the highly awaited news conference, Merkel said the fact he made it to Berlin despite the unlikely event of a lightning strike was "maybe a good  men

for our co-operation."

They made the most of what they could agree on, but Hollande warned ominously that "everything was on the table" concerning EU economic policy, ahead of a meeting of European leaders in Brussels on May 23rd.

"This meeting wasn't intended to answer all the questions that have been asked, but was mainly meant for us to get to know each other better, to

establish ties, a working method, to find a solution together" to the crisis, said Hollande.

To a journalist's question as to what language they spoke to each other, Merkel said they conversed "mainly in their native tongues" apart from a few words of English while waiting for their interpreters.

Hollande, famous for his sense of humour, said: "Even when speaking French, one can be understood by a German chancellor. And similarly, even when speaking German, a chancellor can be understood by a French president."


Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available