Is France’s Macron really ‘dressing up’ as Ukrainian president Zelensky?

A photo of Emmanuel Macron has been causing a stir in France - and even around the world - but is it really all that it seems?

Is France's Macron really 'dressing up' as Ukrainian president Zelensky?
Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky, pictured in 2020. Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

What is this?

A photo of French president Emmanuel Macron has been doing the rounds and raising eyebrows, even sparking news articles around the globe.

It shows a slightly unshaven Macron wearing a hoodie with a military logo and raising an eyebrow at the photographer.

Er, and why is this news?

It’s an unusual look for the French president, who is very rarely photographed wearing anything other than a well-tailored dark suit and crisp white shirt. 

It’s led to a lot of comment, with many people making the point that Macron appears to be trying to ape the macho, military look of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has become something of an international sex symbol in recent days (although that’s probably the last thing on his mind as he tried to deal with the Russian invasion of his country).

Several British newspapers have written articles on the photo, many European newspapers have covered it and it’s even crossed the Atlantic to the US.

Some writers appreciated Macron’s new look, others accused him of a publicity stunt and trying to ‘piggy back’ the tragedy in Ukraine for electoral reasons.

Was it a publicity stunt?

Sort of. Macron has an official photographer, Soazig de la Moissonière, and during the election campaign she has been releasing 10 photos every day showing life with candidate Macron, on her Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ©Soazig de la Moissonnière (@soazigdelamoissonniere)

Most of them are fairly run-of-the-mill and show Macron in a suit shaking hands with other men in suits.

The hoodie photo was taken on Sunday and shows Macron taking part in another round of international phone diplomacy as he continues to work with other world leaders to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis.

As it’s a Sunday, he’s in casual clothes, looking less groomed that usual – if there is an intended message it’s probably ‘No days off for the leaders of the free world’.

The photo that most media are using is actually a cropped version of this picture (below) showing Macron raising an eyebrow at the photographer as he leaves the Salon Doré (aka his office) in the Elysée Palace.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ©Soazig de la Moissonnière (@soazigdelamoissonniere)

What’s in a sweater?

The suit is very much Macron’s trademark, but those who know him say he’s always been a casual dresser while off duty and has long had a penchant for hoodies. It’s therefore unlikely that he bought this one especially for the photo.

Macron does sometimes don a black polo-neck sweater for official announcements – often when he’s trying to appeal to more left-wing voters by donning the uniform of the French intellectual left – and he’s sometimes photographed on holiday looking more relaxed in chinos and a shirt.

If you’ve ever been curious about the presidential knees, here’s a video of him competing in a charity football match.

Member comments

  1. The key thing with trying to look heroic is first do something heroic ( NB telephone calls to the enemy don’t count )

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.