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Postcards from Paris

Contact Loulou de la Paumardiere


And she's not wrong. Nicolas told me that when he looks at the photo of Carla that graces the presidential desk-an exquisite Helmut Newton nude with Carla surrounded by hundreds of mice in the middle of their synchronized swimming routine-it is her intellect and her engagement that he admires. "How not to hear," asked Nicolas in a speech just last week, "an echo of the incisive female esprit heard in the famous French salons of Madame de Rambouillet, Madeleine de Scudery or Julie de Lespinasse in my beautiful wife's laughing, and frequent, 'I dunno'?" Nicolas admires the fact that Carla has strong opinions, notably about the evils of capitalism for non-billionaire tire industry heiresses, and that she is an ardent supporter of women's rights for her closest friends. "When the Saudi government told Nicolas shortly before our marriage at Loulou's house last month," Carla recently said in an interview with L'Express, "that he could not bring along his fiancée, I went to Saudi Arabia nevertheless, and I agree with Nicolas that my contribution to women's rights was not diminished in the least by the fact that I had to spend the entire three days in the trunk of the car." Such is Nicolas' respect for Carla's sheer intelligence that all French fourth-graders now have to learn by heart Carla's first speech, given in Paris on February 10, 2008, and it is thrilling to hear a classroom full of those little French voices reciting the now famous opening line: "I believe in liberty, equality and silky smooth hair for everyone, irregardless of if they are dark-skinned or anything icky like that."

Nicolas has justified Carla's sitting in occasionally on cabinet meetings by pointing out that if someone as intelligent as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy cannot understand discussions among the ministers (all too often mere displays, says Nicolas, of intellectual one-upmanship) then ordinary French people will never comprehend his government's policies. This has now resulted in major changes, and where one once heard a budget minister droning on about saddle-node bifurcation and type-I intermittency in non-linear economic cycles, or a "non-attracting chaotic set" (the latter phrase angered Nicolas, who loathes talking about his private life), all of France's ministers are now required to make presentations during cabinet meetings using only sock puppets and an Etch-a-Sketch.

Just as sincerely as Nicolas admires Carla's IQ, Carla couldn't care less about anything as shallow as looks. And why should she? Her own divine good looks--as her best girlfriend, I felt that it was my responsibility to tell her, so that she wouldn't give it a second thought, about the cruel faux riddle going around Paris about how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if he hadn't sold his fucking cheeks to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy-have meant that she's known, and with the most beautiful men in the world, varieties of physical intimacy of which most of us women can only dream, like that time when their luggage stayed on the helicopter in Banff and Mr. Trump, as she was still calling him then, had no comb or hairspray and Carla gave him a lick-over.

No, it is not Nicolas' looks that first attracted Carla to him (she told me the night she met him here in the rue de Varenne that if Nicolas were to change his hair, he could be a devastatingly handsome camel). Rather, the attraction he exerts on her is dual. First, Carla and I both like what is called "a man's man," and Nicolas certainly fits the bill. Even though, and this is absolutely confidential, he's not afraid to show chinks in the manly armour, or even to cry, or even to shriek at the top of his lungs as he did when one of the cleaning crew suddenly came around a corner one night with a vacuum cleaner roaring over one of the Aubusson rugs and Nicolas jumped into Carla's arms with a shrill Make it stop!, he has shown on innumerable occasions that he can be merciless with helpless poor people when the situation so requires. Nor does Nicolas fear the daunting, rough and tumble world of litigation: he is currently suing an English tabloid, The Daily Mirror, for having published the infamous photo of him standing on the beach in Positano wearing only a pair of those big red wax lips and a hat made out of a roulette wheel. Nonetheless, it came as quite a surprise to Carla that Nicolas can actually be physically tough as well, and she told me how she had watched in admiration only a few days ago as Nicolas personally helped officers at an eighth precinct police station kick to death a dangerous Moroccan immigrant who was being held on suspicion of skipping up and down the Champs-Elysées.

So Nicolas is indeed tough, and tough indeed, but I knew that Carla was above all impressed with Nicolas' steel trap of a mind and, yes, his Machiavellianism, when we were lying on the beach last Christmas Eve in St. Tropez, where we'd decided to spend the holidays together in a tiny, thirty-room Presidential hideaway. Carla and Nicolas had picked me up at the Nice airport and we'd gone straight to the beach and I simply took off my rags-a black sheer lace bra from La Perla and black patterned Dim tights under a black bouclé Chanel suit with black and silver Prada running-away-from-parenting shoes-and threw them on the sand; Carla, who during the entire holiday wore only, if memory serves, a sponge, lay between Nicolas and me, and we were just watching the clouds float by when Nicolas suddenly said: "Let's burp the Marseillaise."

And Carla goes "Real mature, Nicolas."

And he said "More mature than you'll ever be."

And she said "Are not."

"Am too."

"Are not."

"Am too."

"Are not."

"Am too."

"Are not."

"Am too more than however many times you can ever say 'are not;' I quit," said Nicolas.

Carla lay there, stunned at Nicolas' superior debating abilities. She looked over at me, lifted her sunglasses and mouthed: "He's good."

And when Gaddafi was here and we made him that tent and Nicolas came out and said Muammar and I had frank and useful discussions about human rights, Carla realized what a good lawyer Nicolas is, but then she realized, as she said, that Muammar is a better one when Muammar said "No, we didn't, but we should, talk about the scandals of the chevalier de la Barre, captain Dreyfus, the Yonne disappearances and the Lindsay-Bowles affair, or the fact that France has had more anti-Semitic incidents in the past ten years than all other European countries combined, or let's talk, shall we, dear Nicolas, about your law that says that once a bad girl has served, say, a twenty-year prison sentence, three judges can get together and decide that if she is still unremorseful about being, say, non-French, they can keep her longer, just for the fun of it." And that's when Carla said she got to see up close the sort of rapier repartee that had put Nicolas in the Elysée in the first place, as he knocked the stuffing out of Muammar Gaddafi with his now classic "Ssshhhhh! Okay, okay!"

Even Rama Yade, our minister for human rights, who initially objected to the Gaddafi visit, was so inspired by Nicolas' courageous performance that she did an about-face. "President Sarkozy is like a father to me," said she. "He doesn't just talk about loyalty; he lives it: how many men do you know who would have kept a Captain and Tennille 4 Ever tattoo on their ass all these years? So anyway, if I had known that Mr. Gaddafi was here to sign €10 billion in contracts for French-made anti-Zionist nuclear facilities in Libya, I would have totally gone Dude. I apologized for not having understood and President Sarkozy thanked me and palpated my breasts and reminded me that God loves each and every one of us precisely because we are all whores."

Speaking of whom-of God and his love, that is-Carla told me that, even though she's virtually pregnant, she's still a woman, and intends to live her life to the full and has already slept with the American who lives downstairs, the very same man who always calls the police on us (in vain, obviously) when we throw champagne bottles off the roof, and is, according to Carla, quite a big fan of "President Sarkozee."

I said "Carla, really, are we talking about the same man? Tall, not very bright-looking, gobs of money and zero taste and culture?"

"That's the one."

And I was with her when, quite against my advice, she told Nicolas about her night away from the Elysée palace. After breaking that horrid Houdon bust of a toothless Voltaire against the marble floor, Nicolas looked at Carla with his big brown Doberman eyes and asked with great dignity: "Why, Carla? Why?"

And Carla looked at him without smiling and said: "Because I am in love."

Well, I hadn't seen Nicolas this angry since the time we were out on Silvio Berlusconi's boat in the Adriatic and Nicolas dove off and when he climbed back up the ladder he was trembling and very angry because an octopus had latched onto his face and Nicolas could hear all of us laughing and his voice had somehow shape-shifted into this incredible hysterical male falsetto saying Hpmi! Hpmi! Smbdi hpmi! and then he grabbed the octopus with both hands and lifted it over his head but it clung to his face with its horrid sucker things they have and was, Nicolas said later, sort of French kissing him with something called-—this gives me the willies just saying it—its radula, until finally it popped off with this loud wet sucking sound and Nicolas threw it down onto the deck to kill it but on the way down it clamped on to his crotch with another loud wet slurping sound and Nicolas dove back into the water to see if he could lose it and he totally lost it, the octopus I mean, and someone shouted "Spineless, but smart," and poor Nicolas wasn't sure if they meant the octopus or him and when he came back up I said it's all right to cry, that's good that's right just let it all out.

Still I knew with absolute certainty that this baby thing would come off without a hitch when I heard Carla complete her answer: "Silly Nicolas, why did I sleep with the American? For the same reason that I slept with the Prime Minister, with your chief of staff, with your minister of foreign affairs and with the president of the Senate. I slept with him, my darling Nicolas, because I am in love with his loyalty to you."


© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere



About LOUISE DE LA PAUMARDIERE It would be difficult to imagine anyone more purely French or a better embodiment of France and French values than polyglamorous Louise de la Paumardiere. Loulou's paternal great grandfather Andre Le Troquer, unfairly removed from office as President of the French Senate in 1958 for having run a pedophile network, and her maternal grandfather General Paul Ausseresses, unfairly stripped of his rank and thrown out of the Legion d'Honneur because of his role as a torturer in the Franco-Algerian war, are but two of her many famous ancestors. Author of From Foreign to French: 100 Makeovers in Stories and Pictures (New York and London: PLB Books, 2006), multi-talented and multilingual Loulou de la Paumardiere first came to public attention when several of the high-profile Paris-based foreign women on whom she performed makeovers committed suicide. Her family operates the majority of the uniquely French institutions known as Centres d'aide par le travail, or CATS, factories in which handicapped French citizens are employed at less than minimum wage because, as Loulou puts it with her typical Cartesian clarity, "they are handicapped." Her ancestral home, Château de la Paumardiere in Boilly-sur-Gui, an hour from Paris in Normandy, has hosted every head of state since Louis XIV and was a favorite haunt of Lully the Sodomite. She continues that great tradition of French hospitality on weekends in Boilly and during the week at her luxurious mansion at 60, rue de Varenne in Paris.