France’s first lady Brigitte Macron praises ‘fun’ Melania Trump

French first lady Brigitte Macron has heaped praise on her "fun" and "intelligent" American counterpart Melania Trump after her three-day visit to Washington.

France's first lady Brigitte Macron praises 'fun' Melania Trump
"We have the same sense of humour, we laugh a lot together," Macron said. Photo: AFP

Speaking to Le Monde newspaper and RTL radio, Brigitte said she and “kind, charming, intelligent” Melania had bonded further this week after their first meeting in Paris last July.

In Brigitte's telling, Melania in very different in private to in public, where the 48-year-old former model from Slovenia displays little emotion during appearances with her husband.

“On the contrary she is really fun,” Brigitte said, Le Monde reported in its Friday edition. “We have the same sense of humour, we laugh a lot together.

“Everything is interpreted, over-interpreted. She's someone who has a strong personality but she makes an effort to hide it.

“She laughs very easily at everything, but she shows it less than I do,” said Brigitte, who recently celebrated her 65th birthday.

Macron's wife, his former drama teacher from high school who is 25 years older than him, said she was still adjusting to the constraints of life as France's first lady, but she was still able to find moments of freedom.

“Melania can't do anything, she can't even open a window at the White House. She can't go outside. Every day, I go out in Paris,” she said during the interview on Wednesday during the final day of the Macrons' US trip.

Brigitte also played down her role as a fashion icon, with each of her outfits widely commented on during her trips abroad.


She said the tailored outfits, which are usually provided by French fashion house Louis Vuitton, were a sort of “skin” that helped shield her from all of the attention.

“I don't really have that many ideas about what to put on,” she said, adding that Louis Vuitton artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere was in charge of her wardrobe. 

As for her public responsibilities, she said she did her best not to be a “vase of flowers” in the background of her husband while abroad and joked about the need to respect the choreography of the US state visit.

This often involved following stickers on the floor to her position during the ceremonies. “Can it be any other way? I don't know,” she said.

Brigitte insisted that only her clothes had changed, not her — reinforcing her down-to-earth image which has made her a more popular figure than her husband, according to polls.

“In my head, I'm Emmanuel Macron's wife, not the president's wife. I don't feel like a first lady even though I'm aware of my responsibilities,” she said. 

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France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition

France wants to reach a deal with the US on taxing tech giants by a G7 meeting in late August, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Saturday.

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

He was responding to US President Donald Trump, who on Friday vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a law passed this month on taxing digital companies even if their headquarters are elsewhere.

The law would affect US-based global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, among others.

Trump denounced French President Emmanuel Macron's “foolishness”, though they discussed the issue by phone on Friday, according to the White House.

Macron confirmed that he had a “long” conversation with Trump, stressing the pair would “continue to work together in view of the G7”.

“We will discuss international taxation, trade and collective security”, he said Saturday.

His office earlier said Macron had told Trump that the tax on the tech giants was not just in France's interest but was something they both had a stake in.

Neither side revealed if they had also discussed Trump's threat to tax French wines in retaliation.

Le Maire took the same line at a news conference Saturday: “We wish to work closely with our American friends on a universal tax on digital activities.

“We hope between now and the end of August — the G7 heads of state meeting in Biarritz — to reach an agreement.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven highly industrialised countries are to meet in the southwestern French city on August 24-26.

Le Maire emphasised that “there is no desire to specifically target American companies,” since the three-percent tax would be levied on revenues generated from services to French consumers by all of the world's largest tech firms, including Chinese and European ones. 

But Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted earlier that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” Deere said in a statement. 

The French law aims to plug a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in European countries where they make huge profits, because their legal base is in smaller EU states.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a Paris-based forum that advises the world's advanced economies.

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