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Rumor has it that Sarkozy tied knot with ex-model

The French president is suspected of marrying girlfriend Carla Bruni in secret, just as he said he would.

January 16, 2008|Geraldine Baum | Times Staff Writer

PARIS — He married her; he married her not. He married her; he married her not.

He married her?

France's rumor de jour is that First Bachelor Nicolas Sarkozy has done just what he said he'd do if he decided to marry his fetching former-supermodel girlfriend, Carla Bruni: He'd keep it a secret.

"There are strong chances you will learn of it once it's done," Sarkozy told 600 reporters at a news conference a week ago after acknowledging that he'd gotten "serious" with his girlfriend of two months. Now, a regional newspaper, L'Est Republicain, is reporting that the couple went ahead and got married in a "small, private ceremony" at the Elysee Palace on Thursday. The president's staff had no comment, and the report, based on a source close to "a witness who attended the ceremony," contained no details.

"The details -- they're part of the president's private life," huffed L'Est Republicain reporter Laid Sammari, adding, "I'm not interested in whether she wore a white dress and pink panties. That's private. What's not private is to know if the president is married. Will he have a first lady with him when he goes to India at the end of the month for the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Indian Constitution?"

Sammari's sketchy report had heft if only because he was the first to break the news in October of Sarkozy's divorce from his second wife, Cecilia, and was the first to interview her afterward.

But the notion that any part of the life of the man who has been dubbed le president bling-bling is private seems increasingly comical as the media and public pore over details of the divorce, over opinions by world leaders on his new relationship, over what his potential mother-in-law is saying about everything and anything and, oh, yes, over a contretemps with his top executive over how they're running the country.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon took the opportunity Tuesday at his annual news conference to dispel rumors that he resented Sarkozy for hogging the limelight and that they weren't getting along. But Fillon did it in a parody of the questions and answers about Sarkozy's romantic entanglements that are dominating French civic life these days.

"How does the executive couple work?" Fillon asked himself.

"Very well," he answered himself.

"Are you a happy prime minister?" he continued. "Yes, I am -- when I'm with you."

Well, why not.

Just about everyone else is chatting up their relationship with the president of France. Already three books about his 11-year marriage to his ex, now going by her maiden name Cecilia Ciganer, have been published. "Cecilia" by journalist Anna Bitton came out this week and is already a bestseller. In it, the former first lady is quoted as describing Sarkozy as "out of control" since the divorce, leaping "on girls whose names he can't even remember" and staying out until the wee hours at karaoke clubs.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy and his presumptive bride appear to have moved on.

The Italian daily La Repubblica is speculating that the couple will honeymoon at a luxurious hotel in San Vito di Negrar near Verona, hometown of Romeo and Juliet, because a booking was allegedly made there under Bruni's name. The president himself seems to be relishing this latest spate of attention. Chatting in Doha on Monday night with French journalists who were with him on an official visit to Qatar, Sarkozy (who was not wearing a wedding ring) was reported to have affected annoyance describing an evening out with Bruni in Paris last Saturday night. By the time they left a restaurant, about 300 people were waiting outside.

"I would have been happier if there were 30," he said, according to the Times of London.

He also told reporters that when he spent a night at Bruni's Left Bank apartment, four photographers staked out the door all night. "I went to them and asked them, 'What's the point?' "

Apparently the point is that the public can't get enough. Newsstands are filled with magazines carrying the new presidential couple on the cover, and the Internet is agog, or rather, ablog over the president's social life.

In a chat on the Times of London website, Seamus of Dublin admonished a critic who was shocked, shocked by the president cavorting with a woman who had previously dated Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and other celebrities.

Wrote Seamus: "If you want a celibate head of state -- go live in the Vatican."

Achrene Sicakyuz of The Times' Paris Bureau contributed to this report.

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