In Brégançon, there is the sky, the sun and the bitter: paparazzi, bloodthirsty insects and bad buzz in the corner of the beach towel. As the Macrons arrive at the fort, a look back at this very French setting of the best summer soap operas.
Brégançon, the summer residence of French presidents, has had varying degrees of success depending on the mandate. Chirac there “pissed off”, Sarkozy did not go, while Macron tans with joy. Since July 30, 2021, he and his wife Brigitte have taken up their quarters summer in the medieval fortress of Bormes-les-Mimosas, for a “summer of concentration and determination” – a formula which is reminiscent of the opaque nature of the index 50 sunscreen necessary under the Var sun.
This year again, will the people be entitled to crunchy presidential snapshots? Will the internet slam its best memes? While waiting to find out, let’s take a look back at 5 anecdotes which took place in Brégançon and which prove that French politics remains a sacred (f) summer.
General vs. mosquitoes
“He wanted to be Caesar, he ended up pumped”. This formula of Clémenceau about the sulphurous death of Félix Faure could also have applied to Charles de Gaulle’s stay at Fort Brégançon in 1964. Indeed, the first president to go there – he then had to find an inn during the commemorations of the landing in Provence – he was attacked there by a army of mosquitoes, delighted by the presence of this appetizing guest of 1.96 meters. A perfect size to dominate the crowds, but little suited to the tiny bed offered to the Grand Charles … Defeated, he swore that he would never be taken back there and never set foot in the fort.
More relaxing than the Elysée, Brégançon is the ideal place to discuss the destiny of the French around a watermelon-feta salad. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing therefore invited his Prime Minister Jacques Chirac there in 1976. Alas, the stay turns into divorce, Giscard behaving like a petty little monarch. Sitting in a comfortable armchair, he leaves his guests on simple chairs and is served first, ignoring the elementary rules of politeness. He even invites his ski teacher and his wife, hosts far from the standard expected by Chirac.
“Such a lack of respect”, said the latter in his briefs, that he returned to Paris immediately and resigned immediately, since he had “not much in common with this President”. Next to,“the Marseillais in Cancún”is relaxation.
Chirac all naked and all tanned
Impossible to pass off the fort without wondering through which window Jacques Chirac was photographed in the simplest camera in August 2001. Desire for transparency vis-à-vis his fellow citizens? Nay: according to the four paparazzi present, the president was simply not aware that he was being watched. Stéphane Ruet, then photographer for the Sygma agency, explained in 2018 at Figaro : “We disembarked quietly. I had not even installed my things yet. And suddenly, we see Chirac on the balcony in the simplest camera. At that moment, we are obliged to take the photo”.
But not to publish it. At Claude Chirac’s request, all the pictures were intercepted and the order passed not to show anything in the press. So we would have shared this summer memory with you (photo-files are like shenanigans in politics: at one point, there is a prescription). Except no one knows today where they are.
François Hollande’s uncomfortable cushions
“The Brégançon cushions: François Hollande’s Fouquet’s?” In August 2012, here is the question asked by L’Obs. If it is a little curious to compare Sarkozy’s feasts with a gloomy decorating affair, the fourteen cushions chosen by the president to make his stay softer still cost a trifle of € 200 each, according to an in-depth investigation by the newspaper South West.
But the cushions-gate was not the only addict of the stay: François Hollande and Valérie Trierweiller, then his companion, were also the target of paparazzi, VSD titling his One of a weakling “Normal to the end of the jersey”. The icing on the sand: the president was then criticized for having taken too many vacations, namely three short weeks without even a small Bolloré yacht on the horizon. Hard, hard, to be the boss.
Macron or the return of bling
Ah, the world before, when we criticized a presidency for its splendor and not for its disastrous management of a pandemic … Remember: as soon as he was elected and after having initiated major restoration work on France, Emmanuel Macron attacked those of Brégançon. In particular, the creation of a above ground pool on the terraces of the fort, so as not to have to go down to the beach (the sand is itchy and it makes people).
If this project was able to save some security costs, the presidential couple remaining in an area easier to monitor, remains that these 34,000 € might not quite pass. Hence the idea of presenting the swimming pool as a simple “fire tank “. The French are not being so stupid after all, the communication plan took off. Even on vacation, it’s not easy to navigate the turbulent waters of politics …
Specialized in identity issues and pop culture, Coline claims a committed approach to journalism. Its objectives: to offer subjects that tell the story of our time and amplify the voice …