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French first lady sheds traditions in US trip

French first lady sheds traditions in US trip

Forget tea with Michelle Obama. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, on her first trip to Washington as France's first lady instead of as supermodel, visited a school in a poor neighborhood instead.
She meets Madame Obama later for dinner with their husbands _ behind firmly closed doors, leaving the curious guessing about how the glamorous, incongruous four get along.
Kids at the Kipp DC school were over the moon at their visitor and her entourage of bodyguards _ and sang her songs.
Bruni-Sarkozy took up a singing career after quitting the catwalk, and surprised students the day before at Juillard Music School in New York.
After the motorcade bell rang and her school visit ended, Bruni-Sarkozy met up with her husband and his 12-year-old son Louis for lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl, a legendary diner that was a longtime fixture in the black business community and is now a frequent stop for politicians and celebrities.
The Sarkozys' trip took on an air of family vacation. Sarkozy's son came along to meetings in the Senate and House with lawmakers John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi, and Sarkozy's gift to the Obama family was some Asterix comic books for the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia.
The subtext of the family man image that Nicolas Sarkozy was projecting was clear: Forget about those blog rumors of roadblocks in his closely watched marriage with Carla, who famously dismissed monogamy as untenable in her younger years.
Their visit to New York at times seemed a love-a-thon, as they were photographed kissing in front of their hotel and in the Boathouse restaurant in Central Park, and clasping hands before and after the French president gave a no-holds-barred speech at Columbia University.
The French first lady, though, remains an enigma for her many admirers, as well as her detractors.
She charmed Queen Elizabeth II but has spurned fellow first ladies during other international visits. She travels irregularly with her husband, and is reported to live in her spacious Paris apartment part of the time instead of in the presidential palace.
She and Michelle Obama appear to have established a rapport on their few meetings _ meetings often judged more as fashion faceoffs by two fit, well-dressed and confident modern women than anything else.
Tuesday night will be no exception _ if anyone catches of glimpse of what they're wearing at the private dinner in the White House apartments.
If not, the two women might be relieved that they won't wake up the next day to endless stories comparing their tastes.
Asked earlier this year about the public's high interest in her sartorial choices, Michelle Obama said, "It's surprising. It's something that's still sort of hard to adjust to, because it is not sort of a traditional way that people view the presidency, so it wasn't something that I was prepared for.
Bruni-Sarkozy in her three days in the United States has been photographed wearing at least five different outfits, from a wraparound black top and gray skirt at Columbia University, to wide-leg pants at the school Tuesday. Her hairstyles kept up, with a swept-up chignon at Columbia giving way to loose tresses at Juillard.
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Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-26 16:52 GMT+08:00