Valérie Trierweiler and Paris Match
By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
The unofficial role of first lady in France is one commentators had difficulty in defining at the time of the messy separation between President Hollande and his partner Valérie Trierweiler (above) earlier this year. Perhaps if there is ever to be a “first man” in France, the role will be taken more seriously. After all, Ségolène Royal, Hollande’s former long-term partner and the mother of his four children, is still active in the Socialist Party and could stage a comeback – she ran unsuccessfully in 2007 and might yet have another go in 2017. Having said that, the leader of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, looks a better bet for 2017 after the successes of her party in last Sunday’s first round of municipal elections (and the Socialists’ catastrophic showing in the poll): the city of Orange in the South is now in Front National control and things could get worse after this Sunday’s second round.
Trierweiler has her job as a “Grand Reporter” (the staff list also includes someone responsible for “rewriting”) with Paris Match to fall back on. Under the rubric “Regard de Valérie Trierweiler” she reviews books for the glossy publication (with a circulation of 600,000 plus). Two weeks ago she reviewed the autobiography of a handicapped swimmer (the most recent issue doesn’t have anything from her). It doesn’t on the face of it seem a very demanding role.
I sense that Paris Match’s reputation is bigger than its circulation figures would suggest. Roland Barthes devoted a chapter of Mythologies to it. Everyone, surely, has heard of the magazine. Founded in 1949, it blazed a trail in covering the antics of movie and pop stars – the cover image of Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of Breathless among other films (above) captures the spirit of the publication absolutely – and royalty. And I wonder how many times Catherine Deneuve (below) has appeared on the cover. The Grimaldi family of Monaco has provided abundant copy: the death in a car accident of Princess Grace, the marital problems and tragedies of her daughter Caroline, and the waywardness of her other daughter Stéphanie. And not forgetting the son Prince Albert, the reigning monarch.
But the magazine has a more international view, too. Its photo-journalism has always been of the highest standard, and it hasn’t shied away from covering political scandal: two weeks ago, the former president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on the front cover in Carla Bruni’s loving embrace above the coverline “Spied on by the judges and betrayed by an adviser – Carla wants to fight on his behalf” (the most recent edition has a distraught-looking Mick Jagger on the cover and two articles on his late girlfriend L’Wren Scott).
In addition there are articles on the Malaysian airliner, the Parisian mayoral elections, which will be won by either the Socialist Anne Hidalgo or the Conservative Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (NKM) – the first woman mayor of the City of Light, in other words. Elsewhere we can read about the 76-year-old Frenchman Claude Dany whose artificial heart beat “7 million times” before he died, François Mitterrand’s tangled domestic arrangements, the current popularity of Pope Francis, or the plight of the Tatars of Crimea.
The Hollywood angle, meanwhile, is covered with a picture-led item on George Clooney and his Lebanese lawyer girlfriend Amal Alamuddin on holiday in Tanzania. And there’s a piece on Annie Leibovitz’s photography.
Sarkozy is clearly something of a house favourite as the most recent edition covers his trip to Nice where, in the company of Bernadette Chirac, he inaugurated an institute for research into Alzheimer’s disease.
And those looking for coverage of those ageless French rockers Johnny Halliday and Eddy Mitchell won’t be disappointed: there they are on p22, next to the announcement of a French tour in 2015. Rock on!