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French elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Emmanuel Macron

Two aspects of Emmanuel Macron's story are very well known - he created a new party was elected president at the age of just 39, having never before held elected office, and his wife is the much older woman who he met while he was just a teenager. But here's some things you might not know about him.

French elections: 5 things you didn't know about Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

1 He’s pretty nippy in midfield – We’re talking football here, Macron is a lifelong supporter of Olympique Marseille, despite being from Amiens which is pretty much the opposite end of the country to Marseille (although this is not usual, Paris-Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille have fans all over France).

He also plays, taking part in a charity football match in late 2021, where footage shows him taking a penalty. True to political form, his shot went straight down the centre to find the goal.

VIDEO Macron’s charity football game

2 He was actually only a banker for four years – One of the things that is often cited about Macron is that he’s a former investment banker – and it’s true he worked for the private Rothschild & Cie Banque between 2008 and 2012.

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But in his working life before becoming president at the age of 39, only four years were spent at the bank. The rest of his career was working as a technocrat and economic adviser, before taking up a role in François Hollande’s government in 2012.

3 He’s a bit of an anglophile – Undoubtedly a proud Frenchman, keen to restore France to glory on the world stage, Macron is also a fluent English-speaker and enjoys a bit of anglophone culture, according to his former PM Edouard Philippe, who revealed in his book that he and the president had discussed theories of power in relation to Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

Macron also has an English great-grandfather, although he never met him.

4 He is a (possibly erotic) novelist –  Macron has often said that his first dream was to become a writer and it’s known that as a very young man he wrote a book telling the story of a young man falling in love.

Very few people claim to have actually read this so it’s not clear whether is merely a romance or something a little spicier. If he has written erotica it doesn’t make him unusual – it seems to be practically compulsory for French politicians.

5 He has blue eyes like a lake in the sunshine – Well, that’s according to his economy minister Bruno Le Maire, who described Macron as having “a blue gaze tinted by metallic sparkles, like a lake burdened with sunshine whose surface it would have been impossible, under the scintillating reflections, to pierce” in his most recent book.

He certainly has blue eyes and he also appears to have the politician’s trick of charming his audience, many people report being convinced and converted after a one-to-one meeting with the president.  

And the thing that everyone ‘knows’

Macron has repeatedly paid tribute to the influence that his grandmother Manette, a teacher, had on his childhood.

But the other great influence on his life is another teacher, his wife Brigitte. The two have faced down decades of gossip, jokes and hostility due to their unconventional relationship with its 24-year age gap, which began when he was still at school and she was a teacher, married with teenage children.

But 26 years after meeting they are still together and after a rocky start Brigitte’s adult children from her first marriage now reportedly have a good relationship with the stepfather who is close to them in age. His stepchildren campaigned for him in 2017.

The couple have no children of their own, but have adopted a rescue dog – Nemo. 

Member comments

  1. His wife had an affair with her student – stop the whitewashing.

    In most countries that’s a crime, not “unconventional”.

    1. Utter nonsense. There was no “affair” when he was at school, no proof of any criminal conduct, despite several journalistic investigations, and then a number of books. It was a one-sided infatuation at that stage. She moved schools when she realised his attention was becoming the subject of rumours, and his parents then moved him to go to school in Paris, believing this to be a teenage fantasy that would disappear over time. She was married then, with three kids, but they kept in touch, and met openly when he was working, much later. The claim of “whitewashing” is often made, especially by his political opponents, but no friends, acquaintances, family or colleagues have ever hinted at anything untoward when he was at school, despite much encouragement to do so. Your claim is as baseless as it goes, and is entirely typical of the level of hostility they have met over the years since they married.

  2. Mike, you are totally lost. I live in France and I’ve never heard anyone defend him like you are.

    Macron’s parents asked her to stop contacting Emmanuel – she flat out refused. She refuses to say when their relationship became sexual – clearly something to hide.

    The list goes on and on, but I’m talking with some troll. Anyone else: 2 minutes of research and you find a wealth of info on this.

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JOHN LICHFIELD

OPINION: Macron’s speech revealed his long game for France, but is it a game he can win?

In the wake of Emmanuel Macron's (unusually brief) speech to the nation and an orgy of blame and speculation, John Lichfield takes a look at how the turbulent months ahead are likely to play out in France.

OPINION: Macron's speech revealed his long game for France, but is it a game he can win?

In eight minutes on Wednesday evening, we saw the best of Emmanuel Macron and the worst of Emmanuel Macron. In his TV address to the nation, he was confident; he was solemn; above all he was brief.

He accepted that the hung parliament elected last Sunday reflected “deep divisions” in the country. He said that France  must “learn to govern differently…We must build new compromises…based on dialogue, open-mindedness and respect”.

But he failed to admit any share of responsibility in the impasse which voters have created. He said that he still had a “clear mandate” from his Presidential victory in April. He called for compromise but said that some of his own promises – no new taxes, no increased debt – were untouchable.

Hear more analysis from John and The Local team in our Talking France podcast.

In April, Macron acknowledged that he had won partly through the votes of people who disliked him but feared Marine Le Pen more. He promised to govern with them in mind. He hasn’t.

His alliance drifted through the parliamentary campaign without strongly defending Macron’s presidential programme, let alone coming up with new ideas to appease the voters, of Right or Left, who supported him on April 24th by default.

That is not the only reason for the mess that France is now in. Other factors played a part: voter fatigue; inflation; the perpetual French instinct to demand “change” but resist all changes; a campaign which largely ignored the gathering threats in the world outside.

France now finds itself, by accident, in a world which the present generation of French politicians have never known – a German, Italian, Spanish or Belgian world of coalitions, compromise and shifting alliances.

This was the world – a world of revolving-door governments –  which Charles de Gaulle devised the Presidency-dominated Fifth Republic to replace. Some argue that the return of parliamentary power will be A Good Thing.

It will generate more profound political debate and a culture of constructive compromise. I doubt it. The new National Assembly – with nine political groups, including large blocs from the Hard Left and Far Right – will be more bear-pit than Periclean Athens.

There has been a witch-hunt going on in the French media about who is “responsible” for the fact that Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National leaped from 8 seats to 89 in the new Assembly.

READ ALSO Is there really a ‘voter surge’ to the far-right in France?

The Left, both in France and abroad, has blamed President Macron’s Ensemble! alliance for failing to give clear advice to its supporters last Sunday to vote for the Left in two-way, second round contests with Lepennist candidates. As a result, they say Le Pen won at least 30 seats which might have gone to the Left-Green alliance, Nupes.

They fail to point out – and the French media has only belatedly started to point out – that exactly the same thing happened, only more so, with those Left voters who faced second round races between Macron and Le Pen candidates. Almost 60 percent of the Far Right victories – 53 – came in two-way contests  between the Rassemblement National and Macron’s Ensemble! alliance.

Exit polls vary but all of them suggest that voters of the Left  abstained, or even voted for Le Pen candidates, to “screw Macron” more than Macron voters abstained or voted Le Pen to “screw” the Left.

In effect, the Macron alliance and the Left-Green alliance shot themselves collectively in the feet by abandoning the so-called Republican Front against Le Pen. Each might have won at least 30 extra seats if both had voted for one another. The Macron alliance might even have just scraped a majority – which is presumably what Left-Green voters wanted to prevent.

A similar hue and cry is in progress against the Macron camp for its alleged willingness to work with Le Pen and her deputies in the new parliament. There has been some loose talk by some Macron allies. Most senior Macron lieutenants have ruled out deals or alliances with the Far Right bloc.

But what of Macron himself, who asked Marine Le Pen when they met on Tuesday whether she would contemplate joining a government of national unity? He asked the same of most of the party-leaders he met.

All refused and as Macron said in his eight-minute address, the idea is impractical and unjustified.

Why raise it at all then? Especially with Le Pen?

Partly, I think, because Macron believes that as President of the Republic he cannot pretend that the 89 Far Right deputies do not exist. Partly, I believe that Macron is playing a would-be clever waiting game.

He sees no real prospect of a long-term alliance with the 64 centre-right deputies. He expects in the short term to conduct  urgent business – including a new anti-inflation package  -through ad hoc alliances with the centre-right and moderate Left.

In the longer term, he believes (and maybe hopes) that such cooperation is doomed to fail. He wants to be seen to have given all combinations of parliamentary peace a chance before he “declares war” and calls a new legislative election next year.

Hence last night’s message. What are all the groups in parliament – including the three Macron-supporting ones – prepared to concede to allow the vital business of government to continue?

It might have been smarter politics if Macron had said, more clearly, that he also is ready to make concessions and listen to other people’s ideas.

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