Sarkozy back at clinic after daughter's birth
President Nicolas Sarkozy visited his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the French first couple's newborn daughter in their maternity clinic Thursday, taking a break from the battle to save the euro.
The baby girl was born late on Wednesday, and the 56-year-old president stopped in shortly afterwards after rushing back from talks in Germany on the eurozone crisis. He visited again for 50 minutes on Thursday morning.
The Elysee Palace has said it will make no comment about what it considers a private matter, so it is not clear when the first family might return home.
Sarkozy continues to have a full political schedule, and was carrying a sheaf of official papers when he arrived at the La Muette clinic.
Asked whether the birth would have an effect on the run-up to next April's presidential election, Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said: "In any event, it will have an impact on Nicolas Sarkozy. He's very happy.
"A president comfortable in his skin, clear in his head and in his life, is a gift for the country," he added, speaking to the i-Tele news network.
Bruni, a 43-year-old Italian-born heiress turned supermodel turned singer, was famous even before she married Sarkozy in early 2008 after a whirlwind romance, and the birth made headlines around the world.
But in France itself, where the public is accustomed to politicians' private lives staying private, the event was accorded a more muted reception, with some newspapers barely covering it at all.
In less than five years, Sarkozy has become the first president of France's modern Fifth Republic to divorce while in the Elysee, the first to remarry and now the first to have a child.
In 2007 when his relationship with his second wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz broke down and he quickly took up with the glamorous Carla, voters were turned off by the very public display of his romantic adventures.
The lovers allowed themselves to be photographed with their children on luxury foreign holidays, reinforcing Sarkozy's growing reputation as a showy friend of the super-rich, out of touch with French life.
Sarkozy -- languishing in the opinion polls just seven months before he is due to seek re-election -- seems to have learned the lesson of that period, and has been extremely discreet about the pregnancy.
The left-wing Liberation newspaper only mentioned the birth in a brief page 14 story. Others gave it more prominence but it was far from a national event, drowned out by financial crisis and the death of a French hostage in Somalia.
The Elysee never announced the pregnancy officially, but Bruni was "outed" as pregnant when she appeared with a visible bump at an event to welcome fellow first ladies to the G8 summit in Deauville in May.
She has since given a handful of interviews, but always been careful to insist that her family life with Sarkozy has no bearing on his presidency.
Two sources close to the first lady confirmed the birth to AFP, saying that it had happened between 7:00 and 7:30 pm and had gone well. "For the moment we don't know the little girl's name," one added.
In an interview pre-recorded for a French state television broadcast due later Thursday, Bruni-Sarkozy said she had not known the baby's sex: "We've arranged for it to be a big surprise. Obviously, a nice surprise."
Bruni has a 10-year-old son from a previous relationship and thrice-married Sarkozy has three sons aged between 14 and 26.
Bruni has said she will continue working on her singing career after the birth, and Sarkozy seems unlikely to take France's two-week paternity leave.
He left Bruni's side just before the birth to go to Frankfurt to seek a deal with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to reinforce a eurozone bail-out fund and protect French banks from an eventual Greek default.
© 2011 AFP