Segolene Royal's au pair days in Ireland recalled

12th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Dec 12, 2006 (AFP) - French Presidential candidate Ségolène Royal was an au pair with a family in Dublin 35 years ago when she was still a teenager, The Independent reported on Tuesday.

LONDON, Dec 12, 2006 (AFP) - French Presidential candidate Ségolène Royal was an au pair with a family in Dublin 35 years ago when she was still a teenager, The Independent reported on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, it was alerted to the fact that Royal had spent time in Ireland by a age-old friend of the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, Sheena Beale, now a lawyer in Dublin.

Beale had spent the summer of 1969 in Villers-sur-Mer, on France's northwestern coast, and befriended Royal — then known as Marie-Ségolène — who was staying in the holiday home next door to Beale's.

"We spent the whole summer together, swimming and playing tennis, talking about boys and our future," Beale told the newspaper.

"We both wanted to be lawyers ... She was always great fun to be with but a very focused girl, very determined. I never imagined that she would go into politics ... But it does not surprise me at all that she has gone so far."

The two girls kept in touch after that summer, and in 1971, Royal told Beale that she would be in Dublin to work as an au pair with the Roche family. Beale was not in the country that summer, but put Royal in touch with her own family.

When contacted by The Independent, Graziella Schuster, born Graziella Roche — who was aged eight when Royal visited — found a picture of the presidential candidate, then aged 18, sitting at a table with herself and her two younger brothers, which was reproduced in The Independent.

"I had no idea that it could be the same person," Schuster, now married with two children, was quoted by The Independent as saying.

"Only two or three weeks ago I was watching something about Ségolène Royal on the television news. I said to my husband, 'That's strange. We had an au pair called Ségolène when I was a child'. It did not occur to me for a moment that it could have been her."

Schuster said that she remembered Royal as a "very warm-hearted girl, great fun."

"She was a big success. We had had other French au pairs and, quite honestly, we didn't like them much ... But Ségolène took the time to play with us, especially me as the only girl in the family."

"She would cook with me and draw with me. I also remember that my brother John was mad about butterflies and we would spend hours with Segolene chasing butterflies and bumblebees around our garden with nets," Schuster said.

John Roche was quoted as saying he had "nothing but fond memories" of his time spent with Royal in 1971.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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