French Face of the Week

French top cop’s wife ‘makes ticket vanish’

French top cop's wife 'makes ticket vanish'
Anne Gravoin met her now husband Manuel Valls in the 1980s but the couple only got together in 2004. File photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP
The wife of France's top cop, Interior Minister Manuel Valls, is a brilliant classical violinist but this week she wound up in the headlines for a different kind of fiddling. Find out what happened when she stepped in to quash a friend's parking ticket.

Who is Anne Gravoin?

She’s a classically trained violinist who has toured with French rock star idol Johnny Hallyday. She also happens to be the wife of France's top law enforcement official and one of the most powerful men in the country: Interior Minister Manuel Valls, whom she married in 2010.

The couple first met in the 1980s but only got together in 2004 while Valls, a father of four, was newly divorced and working as mayor in the Parisian suburb of Évry. Valls was tapped to become Interior Minister in May 2012.

Why is she in the news?

Unfortunately  this time it has nothing to do with her musical talent.

On Wednesday, French magazine Le Point revealed Gravoin had used her proximity to the country's top cop to get a friend out of a parking ticket.

According to Le Point, the trouble started on January 28th at around 10:30am when a parking enforcement officer in Paris’s 11th Arrondissement noticed a car illegally parked outside Valls' residence.

A police officer stationed in front on the house stepped in and told the parking warden to let the car go without a ticket.

The officer had, it would seem, been forewarned of the friend’s visit and had been instructed to keep the woman's Toyota from getting a ticket if a wayward parking warden wandered down the street.  

Too bad for Gravoin and her friend, however, the warden wasn’t having any of it.

“Too late, it’s already been done!” the warden reportedly told the officer, who then had to explain to a rather displeased Gravoin what had happened.

But Valls' wife knew someone who could help. She reportedly said "I'm calling Manuel."

Within a few hours someone from the ministry contacted the rattled police officer to let him know he that everything was being taken care of and he wasn't headed to Siberia. 

Needless to say, the parking fine appears to have vanished.

Is this the first time Gravoin has allegedly used her husband's position to get what she wants?

Apparently not. According to satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, in October 2012 Gravoin convinced Valls to use his authority to remove some homeless people outside their apartment.

A few weeks earlier the violinist had complained to her husband about being disturbed by a homeless person while out shopping, the paper said. 

The claim was however denied by the minister’s office which in a statement said “the minister made no private request,” and that “no order” was given to the local authorities.

Have these revelations affected their relationship?

This remains to be seen but judging from interviews with Gravoin their relationship is a very loving one, though they apparently lead very independent lives. 

“We are so in love, we adore each other, we miss each other,” Gravoin told Le Parisien in 2012.

And it would appear that lots of other French women would agree with Gravoin’s choice of husband.

Last year Gravoin admitted to being “delighted” with the results of a poll which revealed that a significant number of woman wanted to have a “torrid affair” with her husband.

“Manuel absolutely deserves it – and a lot more besides,” she said in a Paris Match interview. “A huge number of women want to sleep with my husband, the love of my life.”

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