Vaiju Naravane

Possible liaison with ex-model sets off wide coverage in French media

Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has a new partner in pop singer and former model Carla Bruni. The two were spotted very publicly at Disneyland Resort Paris on Saturday, and Ms. Bruni, 39, later confided to an editor friend that she and the President were an item.

Photographs of the two together appeared on the front pages of French newspapers on Monday morning. Le Figaro, which supports the President, headlined its story “The Lady of his Heart.” The couple hardly tried to hide the fact that they were there together, though the photos did not show them any closer than shoulder to shoulder.

Mr. Sarkozy’s 11-year-long and turbulent marriage with Ms. Cecilia ended in divorce in October. The President, who during his messy divorce said he was disgusted by media attention and swore “never again,” did not appear to mind the publication of the photographs. At 53, he was the first French President to divorce while in office.

Several observers have remarked on some uncanny similarities between Ms. Bruni and Ms. Cecilia, both ex-models. At nearly six feet, both dominate the diminutive President in height (who he is 5 foot five inches), have high cheekbones and straight, shoulder-length hair. Ms. Cecilia was a good pianist. Ms Bruni also comes from a musically-inclined family.

Christophe Barbier, Editor of the newsmagazine L’Express, told French television that Ms. Bruni — who has in the past dated rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton — confirmed she is romantically involved with Mr. Sarkozy.

Ms. Bruni, who will be 39 on Sunday, has a son from a marriage to a philosopher. He was once married to the daughter of philosopher and writer Bernard Henri-Levy, one of Mr. Sarkozy’s fiercest critics. Mr. Sarkozy has two sons from his first marriage and one son from his second.