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The First Ladies of the Fifth Republic

As the presidential elections have just taken place, the new President is at the forefront. Before the Fifth Republic, they were practically erased. But since they play a role in public, they are present at official dinners at the Elysée Palace, often during diplomatic trips abroad. Back to the latest First Ladies of France !

Yvonne DE GAULLE from 1959 to 1969

This lady who was nicknamed "Aunt Yvonne", born in 1900, comes from an industrial family in Calais, where her brother was mayor. After studying with the Dominicans in Asnières, she married Charles de Gaulle in April 1921. In 1934, they moved to the property "La Brasserie", renamed "La Boisserie" in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. She and her three children follow the president during the war. In 1948, she created the Anne de Gaulle Foundation in Milon la Chapelle in memory of her daughter, born disabled.

A Catholic, discreet, she led a simple life during her husband's presidency, influencing him on moral matters and ensuring that divorced and adulterous people were kept out of government.

In 1962, the couple were the target of the attempted bombing at Petit Clamart. For threatening the life of a woman, the instigator of this assassination attempt was shot. When the General resigned in 1969, they retired to La Boisserie. Widowed in 1970, she lived there until 1978, then entered the retirement home of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Paris. She passed away at Val de Grâce in November 1979.

Claude POMPIDOU from 1969 to 1974

Born in 1912, from the Breton bourgeoisie, she studied law in Paris, then married Georges, who was in teaching, in October 1935 and adopted a son Alain Pompidou.

Appreciating poetry and contemporary art, she collects the works of artists of her time, notably Yves Klein. Honorary president of the Center d'Art Contemporain de Cajarc in the Lot, and owning a house in the region, the couple received their friends there, including Françoise Sagan, Pierre Soulages, Bernard and Annabelle Buffet.

At the Elysee Palace, Claude nicknamed Bibiche, introduced a more modern style, which is not really the custom ... She is practically the only First Lady who will never "be" in the ambiance of the palace!

The Claude Pompidou Foundation, of which she was president for more than thirty years, aims to help the elderly, hospital patients and disabled children. Claude builds and manages fifteen establishments for the elderly and disabled, as well as a home for sick children. On her death in July 2007, Bernadette Chirac will become in September the new president of the Claude Pompidou Foundation.

Anne Aymone GISCARD D’ESTAING from 1974 to 1981

Descendant of the Sauvages de Brantes and the princes of Faucigny-Lucinge, she studied at the Louvre School and became Madame Valéry Giscard d´Estaing in December 1952, they had four children. Very active in her husband's presidential campaign, she also runs a women's investment club.

Nicknamed Madame DQ "Dignity-Quality" by the Canard Enchainé, she represents Valéry at events such as the Joan of Arc celebrations in Orleans in 1975, the centenary of the French Institute of Oriental Archeology in Cairo in 1980 and accompanies his husband for the wishes to the French on December 31, 1975. She had an office at the Elysee and regularly received women members of the government to discuss social issues.

Among her other responsibilities, she was municipal councilor of Chanonat in the Puy de Dôme between 1983 and 1995 and every year organizes a charity evening at the Palace of Versailles, for the benefit of the Fondation pour l'Enfance, which she created in 1977. .

Danielle MITTERAND from 1981 to 1995

Mitterrand "style =" float: right; margin: 10px; "/> Born in 1924 in Verdun, from parents who were activists teachers of the SFIO (her father was dismissed by the Vichy government) settled in Cluny, she passed her baccalaureate in Annecy in 1941. Her parents accommodated the maquisards , her sister serving as a "letterbox" in the Resistance for the national movement of prisoners of war, Danielle joined the Resistance as a liaison officer and was introduced to her future husband: François "Morland" Mitterrand, whom she wife in October 1944, they will have three sons.

During the presidency of her husband, woman of action, she engages in a policy for the third world (Fidel Castro, Salvadoran guerrillas) which often put her husband in delicate political situations.

In 1986, she created the France Libertés Foundation, a humanitarian organization intended to respond to distress calls from oppressed women and men. She will support the Tibetan people, fight against apartheid in South Africa, take a stand for the Kurds and the Indian peoples of Latin America, be one of the first to realize the scourge of AIDS in Africa. She is very interested in education and advocates for the notion of wealth but not wealth-money. Provocative, she openly criticized Jacques Chirac's policies and even opposed part of his family by officially taking a NO position in the European referendum in 2005.

Bernadette CHIRAC from 1995 to 2007

Born in Paris in May 1933, from a noble family from the Trois Evêchés (Toul, Metz, Verdun), industrial owners (manufacturer of porcelain and enamels), she is related to the Chodron de Courcel, a very practicing Catholic family.

Her father mobilized in 1939, then taken prisoner, she fled with her mother to the grandmother, countess at the castle of Coudène in Lot et Garonne. Finishing her schooling in Paris, she had Sylvie Joly (future actress) as a classmate, then entered Sciences Po in 1950 where she would meet her future husband. Married in March 1956, despite the reluctance of her family, Jacques being from a different background, they will have two daughters including Claude, her father's communication advisor, married to Thierry Rey, judoka, then a little Vietnamese girl since 1979, but without adoption. . From 1972, she embarked on a bachelor's then a master's degree in archeology and worked on excavation sites in Vaison La Romaine.

Her political career began in 1971 as a municipal councilor of a small town Sarran in Corrèze, then general councilor of Corrèze from 1979 to 2004. She will advance developments in her region: LGV Poitiers-Limoges and will intervene in the new judicial map against the elimination of the TGI de Tulle.

Following the health problems of her eldest daughter Laurence, Bernadette set out in 1973 to improve hospital conditions for children and adolescents.

In 1990, she founded the Pont Neuf Association, intended to promote exchanges between young people from eastern countries and France, and was president of the International Dance Festival. In 1994, taking over the presidency of the Fondation des Hôpitaux de Paris - Hôpitaux de France, she took over the operation of the Yellow Pieces with the essential "TGV yellow pieces". Member of the International Center for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children, she also took over from Claude Pompidou in September 2007 at the head of the Foundation bearing her name.

She will give her opinion during the dissolution of the National Assembly in 1997, becomes one of her husband's assets for the 2002 campaign, is one of the centerpieces of the future UMP, alongside JP Raffarin and militates for reconciliation "Chiraquiens" and "Sarkozystes". She will say of Nicolas Sarkozy: "he is fantastic, was trained at Jacques Chirac's school, he is an excellent orator, he has great charisma" and will go to the front for his future re-election.

Characterized by her "old France" allure with her eternal handbag, she is one of the few First Ladies not to complain about the constraints and the mundane rhythm of the Elysée Palace; Bernadette Chirac was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in March 2009 and Lady of the Order of Malta!

Cecilia SARKOZY 2007

Born in November 1957 in Boulogne Billancourt, her status as First Lady was particularly short: six months.

Of Moldovan origin through her father and Spanish through her mother, she began studying law in Paris, did odd jobs and became an assistant to the Senator for Indre. She married Jacques Martin in August 1984 at the town hall of Neuilly, Nicolas Sarkozy being mayor on that date. Remarried to Nicolas Sarkozy in October 1996, they will have a little Louis in 1997.

In May 2005, she confided to Télé Star: “I don't see myself as a first lady, it shaves me. I am not politically correct. I go for a walk in jeans, fatigues or cowboy boots. I do not fit the mold ”. From then on, she no longer appeared alongside her husband, but became a well-known figure in the media, as a member of her husband's ministerial cabinets, and would regularly make headlines.

She had a chief of staff and a press secretary, and reportedly introduced various political figures to her husband. She took part in negotiations for the release of Bulgarian doctors and nurses in Tripoli, and was promoted to honorary citizen of Sofia.

Carla BRUNI SARKOZY from 2007 to 2012

Born in 1967 in Turin, to musician parents (her biological father being a businessman living in Brazil), the family moved to France around 1974 following kidnappings by the Italian Red Brigades. She learned the piano then the guitar, studied in private boarding schools in France and Switzerland, then studied architecture in Paris, she became a model, then a top model in 1988, made films in 1995, then launched into the music.

In 2006, she will carry the Italian flag to raise the colors at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Turin. She will have a son in 2001 and will meet Nicolas Sarkozy in November 2007, whom she will marry in February 2008.

She has an office at the Elysee Palace, in "Madame's wing", an extension of the private apartments, and has her private secretary. She accompanies the president on his state visits, notably to the United Kingdom, she represented the president during the visit of the Dalai Lama to France.

She became involved in the charitable sector, more particularly in the fight against AIDS and became the world ambassador for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. She also took part in the fight against the wearing of furs. Participating in the liberation of women in countries at war, she is elected in the top third of the "most powerful women in the world".

All these First Ladies of France, so different from each other, each played a role of fashion ambassador and made themselves known for their humanitarian action, responsible and president, each of a foundation.


- The First Ladies of the Fifth Republic - Philippe Valode. the archipelago, 2010.

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