The front-page photoshoot might have sparked speculation the 64-year-old rightwinger was thinking of a political comeback, coming on the heels of his new book called “Passions” which has become a summer best-seller.
But social media users mostly wanted to know how Bruni, a former singer and model who measures 1.75 metres (five foot, nine inches), appeared to be standing up while nuzzling the neck of her husband, who is around 10 cm shorter.
Nicolas Sarkozy : 1m68
Carla Bruni : 1m75
— Alexandre Rousset (@Alex_Rousset) 3 July 2019
The image sparked a series of cruel photoshopped pictures involving step-ladders and platform shoes before Paris Match put out a statement to deny suggestions it had doctored the image.
“Some people were surprised to see Nicolas Sarkozy taller than his wife Carla Bruni,” the magazine admitted, adding that the photo in question had been taken in June on some steps outside the couple's home.
“In the image chosen for the cover, Nicolas Sarkozy was on the higher step than his wife,” it added.
Paris Match brought unwelcome attention to Sarkozy's frame in 2015 with another front-page shot which appeared to show him taller than his wife as he led her across the sand on a beach in Corsica.
— Paris Match (@ParisMatch) 4 July 2019
The glossy celebrity and news magazine is often used by French politicians for publicity, knowing a flattering photoshoot and intimate interview can put them back in the public eye and spark interest.
Sarkozy has quit politics on two occasions in the past after election defeats, most recently in 2016 when his bid to become the presidential candidate for his rightwing Republicans party failed.
Más allá de la chota por la diferencia de estatura no hay q olvidar que alguna vez Sarkozy fue el político de más poder en Francia y tal vez en Europa. El mide 1.66 y ella 10 cm más pic.twitter.com/TwenEqScbz
— Roger Retana (@Roger_Retana) 4 July 2019
He is still embroiled in multiple corruption investigations dating to his five years in office from 2007-2012 focused on campaign financing and allegations he accepted money from the regime of late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
— Francis LALALALANE ?© (@FrancisLalalala) 4 July 2019
He denies all of the charges.
In his new book, he recalls his early years in politics and also touches on his private life, relating how his first wife Cecilia announced her desire for a divorce on the eve of a crucial television debate ahead of his election as president in 2007.
The book has shot to the top of the best-seller lists and is the latest in a long line of his publishing successes which include “Together”, “France for Life” and “Everything for France”.