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'When you're in love you cannot choose' - French president Macron opens up about his marriage

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'When you're in love you cannot choose' - French president Macron opens up about his marriage
France's President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

French president Emmanuel Macron has spoken about his life, friendships, family and unconventional marriage in a wide-ranging interview with a group of journalists who have autistic spectrum disorders - presented as an interview 'without filters'.

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Les rencontres du Papotin sans filtres is a regular series on France 2 TV, in which journalists who have autistic spectrum disorders grill public figures, often with startlingly direct questions.

Macron's interview, which aired on Saturday evening, featured questions about his marriage to Brigitte - 24 years his senior - and his family, friends and personal life, as well as topics like the war in Ukraine and improving the experience for people with autism in France. 

 

But the one that has grabbed all the headlines is the question of the relationship between Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, which began when he was a teenager and she was 39, married with teenage children and a teacher in his school.

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One of the journalists tells him: "A president should set an example and not marry his teacher."

Macron responds by simply saying: "You don't choose who you fall in love with . . . when you're in love you cannot choose" before clarifying: "She was not my teacher, she was my drama teacher".

The couple's relationship began "badly" he acknowledged - in fact Brigitte lost her marriage and her job over the affair with a pupil, while Emmanuel's parents sent him to Paris for his final year of school to try and split up the couple.

They have no children of their own, but Macron told the assembled journalists of Papotin that: "I have three children and seven grandchildren", adding that he considers Brigitte's children from her previous marriage as his children.

The interview reveals a more relaxed Macron compared to the rather stiff technocrat who often appears in official capacities as he laughs and jokes with the group and gives straightforward and direct answers, rather than his often rather complicated and convoluted speeches.

The Papotin series is a monthly programme that features a group interview between a well-known French figure and journalists with autistic spectrum disorder who make a virtue of their condition by asking questions "without filter" - previous interviewees include singer Julien Doré and actress Camille Cottin. 

READ ALSO France's problem with autism - and its roots in psychoanalysis

Other questions for Macron included: Do you have many friends? Do you still miss your grandmother? What is your worst fear? 

You can find the full interview (in French) HERE - it is necessary to create an account with France 2, but access is free.

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