She will be France's next premiere dame. In portraits of Brigitte Macron, journalists focus on the age gap: Emmanuel Macron is 24 years younger than her. But who is this woman really?
Emmanuel Macron's custom-made suit fits perfectly and the consummate smile as well. When the 39-year-old took the stage during his campaign appearances, he often came hand in hand with his wife Brigitte, 64. In the first rows, a few young women form a heart with their index fingers, hold their arms in the air, chant loudly: "Brigitte! Brigitte! Brigitte!"
His love for Brigitte Macron, née Trogneux, the French and Latin teacher from the provinces, seems to appeal to the French. At the same time, however, she provides his critics with an easy target. Who is this woman, who at the start of his career was frequently featured in the French tabloids because of her short skirts, her tanned complexion and peroxided hair?
Close-up and personal in 'Paris Match'
Brigitte is the youngest of the six children of Simone and Jean Trogneux from Amiens, a university city some 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Paris. She grew up in a wealthy middle-class family that owned a chocolate manufactory with several branches, founded in 1872 and famous for its specialty "Macarons d'Amiens."
There is not much more known about the past life of Macron's wife. With her first husband, the banker Andre-Louis Auziere, she had two daughters and a son. She is now grandmother to seven grandchildren. Up until two years ago, she worked as a teacher, before giving up her job to focus on the political success of Emmanuel Macron, 24 years younger than herself.
The two of them got to know each other in the theater club of the Jesuit-run school "La Providence" in Amiens. Together, the 17-year-old pupil and the 41-year-old teacher worked on a presentation of "La Comedie du langage" by Jean Tardieu.
"I could feel that I was starting to waver - and he did as well," Brigitte Macron told "Paris Match," one of France's best-known magazines, which has already published several exclusive articles about the couple's private life.
'I'll marry you, whatever you do'
Recently, the French broadcaster "France 3" made public a video of the school drama performance from the spring of 1993: Macron is seen standing on the stage as a scarecrow. For the last years of his schooling, the pupil changed over to the elite Paris secondary school "Lycee Henri IV," while his teacher remained in Amiens. But they kept in contact, phoning each other for hours. When he left, Macron is said to have told her: "I'm going to marry you no matter what you do."
In 2007, his wish was fulfilled. Brigitte Auziere filed for divorce from her then-husband and moved to Paris to be with Emmanuel. At first, when Macron entered the political limelight, it was difficult for many French to become used to the unlikely couple. But that has long since changed: During the election campaign, the two used their big age difference to give more edge to the candidate's slick image. Otherwise, there is little that is really striking about Macron's life. His stellar career as an investment banker was followed by his entry into the Elysee Palace as an economics adviser to President Francois Hollande and, later, his promotion to economy minister.
All a staged show?
Now, the unusual relationship barely provokes any public criticism. In particular, women in France find Macron's publicly shown devotion to this older woman courageous. In their view, the marriage says a lot about the man who, as a 17-year-old, was able to convince a much older woman of his worth.
During the election campaign, Brigitte always accompanied her husband. She frequently sat at the front of the audience, looking up at him with a constant smile on her lips. She played an active role in his campaign events and formed part of his strategy.