SUPER SATURDAY STORY
But the man who could become the frontrunner for the biggest job in the country if he wins the first round of the presidential election this Sunday is also known by another name: “chouchou”. It translates as “teacher’s pet”.
Aged 39 Emmanuel Macron is handsome and intelligent and as well as making political headlines is also, along with his glamorous, chic wife Brigitte Trogneux, a frequent cover star of France’s most stylish magazines.
So why the nickname? It comes from the fact that wife Brigitte is not only 25 years older than Macron – but that she used to be his high-school teacher.
The pair met when Macron was 15 and a pupil at the Jésuites de la Providence school in Amiens, northern France. Madame Trogneux – then known as Brigitte Auzière – was his literature teacher and ran the theatre club. She was also a 40-year-old married mother of three – one of her daughters was even in his class.
Macron quickly made an impression on his teacher. “In class she always used him as an example,” recalled a former pupil. “He wrote poems all the time and she read them out.”
Romance blossomed the following year when the pair worked on a school play. “Writing brought us together,” Brigitte later said.
“It unleashed an incredible closeness. We wrote and little by little I was totally charmed by his intelligence. He wasn’t like the others. “Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret.”
The pair met when Macron was 15 and a pupil at the Jésuites de la Providence school in Amiens
Macron’s parents, however, were not so enthralled – when he confided that he had feelings for a member of the Auzière family naturally they assumed he meant Brigitte’s daughter.
She spends all her time beside him He asks her questions and takes her advice When the truth emerged – that he was in love with her mother – they promptly sent him to finish his studies in Paris. Before he left, he told his teacher: “You won’t get rid of me. Whatever you do, I will marry you.”
He was right. The pair spoke every day on the phone and by the time he was 18, Brigitte had left her husband and took a teaching job in Paris to be with Macron. They have been together ever since and in 2007 tied the knot. At their wedding, Macron thanked her children for accepting their relationship, adding that they were “not a normal couple – but a couple that exists”.
With Brigitte by his side Macron’s political star has risen spectacularly: after making a fortune as an investment banker he joined the Socialist Party and was appointed minister of economy in 2014, before resigning last year to found En Marche! – calling for a youth-driven “democratic revolution”. But this increased profile has piqued public interest in his marriage.
At 64 Brigitte has become something of a style icon. She is regularly spotted on the front row at fashion shows and with her blonde hair, deep tan, skinny leather trousers and above-the-knee dresses, she looks more like a model than a schoolteacher. French newspaper L’Express described her as “rock’n’roll”, adding: “Not for a second does she say, I cannot wear short skirts. Ultra-high heels, sleeveless dresses, leather trousers, she dares everything.”
Not everyone is so enamoured of the couple, however. Although it has been pointed out that their age difference is no more remarkable than that of Donald and Melania Trump (albeit in reverse), Brigitte was recently satirised on French radio as a “menopausal Barbie” – and that “chouchou” nickname has stuck.
In February their marriage was even described as a sham designed to hide the fact that Macron was having a homosexual affair with Mathieu Gallet, 40, the head of Radio France.
Macron was forced to go on TV to deny it. “I am who I am,” he said. “I have never had anything to hide. I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte. Because I share all my days and nights with her she asks me how I manage it.”
For her part the woman who next month could be France’s fi rst lady is equally uncompromising about their unconventional relationship. “I’ve been involved in everything at his side for 20 years,” Brigitte told reporters in October. “You always seem surprised that spouses are beside their husbands. It’s time for things to evolve.”
Culled from Abroad