"Not very glamorous, his entry on the scene" : The misadventure of Bernadette Chirac at the Elysée

In volume 2 of his book You know, time goes by, journalist Catherine Nay reveals the secrets of presidents. Point unveils extracts from his work which appears by Editions Bouquins. In this opus, she dwells on the years 1995-2017, from the election of Jacques Chirac to that of Emmanuel Macron. Mistress of the art of portraiture, she remembers in particular the inauguration of President Chirac and his wife Bernadette, a lover of fine and acerbic remarks.

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The scene takes place on May 17, 1995, at the Elysée Palace in Paris. “Bernadette was the first to arrive. A few minutes before her husband who, early in the morning, had gone to meditate at General de Gaulle’s grave in Colombey. (…) The first lady, short hair in headbands, wore a sky blue silk outfit. Dior or Chanel? Long jacket and straight skirt, a timeless one that we keep for years in our closets for special occasions: baptisms, weddings …

With her attention to detail, Catherine Nay’s narration allows us to relive the moment when the politician who died in 2009 took power, and behind the scenes. She describes the first lady of France with her keen sense of observation: “I hadn’t seen her for a long time. His figure was quite heavier. Her little bag in her hand, she walked slowly, cautiously. And suddenly, clack! she had twisted her ankle. Not very glamorous, its entry on the scene.

At that time, Bernadette Chirac was almost 62 years old, it was even the day before her birthday. An injured ankle, what gift should she say to herself. Catherine Nay must meet her but the gendarme on duty is mistaken and leads her to Claude Chirac, the daughter of the presidential couple. “I arrived five minutes late and apologized to Ms. Chirac by explaining the reasons“, writes Catherine Nay. It is then that she answers him:”But how, you didn’t know that the president was widowed?“In this year as in all the others, the pillar of the president has always kept his cool and his scathing humor.

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