Recently during Emmanuel Macron’s race in the French Presidential elections that he won, everyone was agog with curiosity about his teenage romance with his high school teacher, a married mother of three, nearly 25 years his senior, and their subsequent marriage decades later. Instead of keeping Brigitte in the background, the youthful 39 year old French President confidently flaunts his youthful looking 65 year old wife everywhere and has proclaimed that anyone who doesn’t understand their union is a “misogynist and homophobe.” Let’s take a closer look at this unusual marriage

By Mahlia Lone

Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron was born in the northern French town of Amiens in 1977. At that time, his future wife Brigitte was already a married woman with a two year old toddler son and a baby daughter born the same year. The son of a physician, Françoise Noguès and Jean-Michel Macron, professor of neurology at the University of Picardy, Emmanuel was a bright and precocious boy. Raised in a liberal, non-religious family, Macron insisted to his parents on being baptized a Roman Catholic at the age of 12 since he attended a French private Jesuit school, the Jesuit Lycée la Providence. At the tender age of 15, he met the love of his life, his drama teacher, Brigitte who was also the mother of his friend and fellow pupil Laurence Azuiere..

French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte hug as he addresses his supporters at his election day headquarters in Paris , Sunday April 23, 2017. Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen advanced Sunday to a runoff in France’s presidential election, remaking the country’s political system and setting up a showdown over its participation in the European Union. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Brigitte Marie-Claude Trogneux came from a well off family of generational chocolatiers. Their multi million dollar successful enterprise Chocolaterie Trogneux with a turnover of €4 million was founded in 1872 in Amiens is famous for its delicious macaroons.. The family business is now run by Brigitte’s nephew and has been renamed Jean Trogneux.

Emmanuel as a precocious boy in Amiens

“Here is my Brigitte at the school (the private Jesuit Lycée la Providence in Amiens) where we met. She was my acting teacher”—Emmanuel Macron

The kiss at the end of the
theatre production that sparked their physical relationship

Brigitte was the youngest of her parents’ six children. In 1974, she married a banker André-Louis Auzière with whom she had three children: Sébastien, an engineer, cardiologist Laurence and Typhaine Auzière, a lawyer who now works for Macron. In the ‘80s, Brigitte Auzière taught literature at the Collège Lucie-Berger in Strasbourg. At the end of the decade, she unsuccessfully ran for the city council of Truchtersheim, before moving back to her hometown in northern France with her family in the ‘90s. There she joined the Lycée la Providence as a teacher for French literature, Latin and drama. Young Macron was also her student in her drama classes.

Emmanuel Macron at the Lycee de La Providence

“A perfect young man”

Macron was an unusual teenage boy with dishevelled hair and an innocent, penetrating look who enjoyed reading and was wise beyond his years. He lived in his own world of “texts and words.” Emmanuel was breezing through “La Pro” (as the school is known) and did not seem interested in girls. His parents remembered only one girlfriend who visited their home just once. “She was the same age, she was sweet; she was the daughter of a local doctor and a friend of ours. It lasted a few months,” his father said.

Trogneaux family chocolaterie in Amiens

The French joke that they’ve had the macarons d’Amiens for generations, and now they have the Macron d’Amiens

Macron admitted in his autobiography Révolution that the only two high points in his life were piano, which he plays very well but is largely self taught, and drama club. “It was at secondary school, through drama, that I met Brigitte. It was surreptitiously that things happened and that I fell in love. Through an intellectual bond, which day after day became ever closer.  Then emerged a lasting passion,” he recounted in the book.

At her daughter Tiphaine’s wedding

Brigitte added that when she arrived at La Providence, “all the teachers were buzzing about Emmanuel.” Her daughter, Laurence, also told her that Macron, her classmate, was “that amazing guy” who “knows everything about everything.” When he joined her drama club, Brigitte found herself drawn to his “exceptional intelligence, a way of thinking that I had never ever seen before.” She was 40 and having a mid life crisis of sorts married to a banker specializing in international finance who often travelled away for work. Theirs was an average, comfortable, middle-class life and she must have been yearning for attention, even from a nubile young boy. It’s interesting to note that Brigitte hardly mentions her ex-husband and brushes that part of her life under the carpet. Known for her quick wit and sharp tongue, she is ready to retort if anyone hints at any impropriety on her part.

Le Figaro journalist Anne Fulda meticulously researched and chronicled the love affair in her new book Emmanuel Macron: a Perfect Young Man, The teacher and her pet student would have long discussions and, impressed by his writing, she would read out his work to the class. “She used to recite his work all the time. She was totally captivated by his writing skills,” a former classmate told Le Parisien newspaper.

They became even closer when they co-authored a play. Brigitte confided in a friend years later: “The writing became an excuse. I felt that we had always known each other.”The night the play was staged, the teacher gave her pupil a kiss on the cheek, sparking the love affair. Macron has described it as “a love often clandestine, often hidden, misunderstood by many before imposing itself.”

Madame Auziere reportedly started meeting her star pupil for trysts at homes belonging to her family, though they both deny that the relationship became physical till he was 18, the legal consensual age between teacher and student in France. Mr. Macron’s parents became troubled by the rumors flying around about their son’s infatuation with a woman twice his age. The Macrons had been under the impression that their son was dating Mme Auziere’s daughter, until a family friend let the cat out of the bag. When one of Emmanuel’s friends, at whose grandmother’s home near Chantilly where he was supposedly studying for his baccalaureate exams, called to organise the coming weekend, Francoise realised that “Manu” who called her every day to tell her about her son’s day was not actually in Chantilly.  She smelled something fishy.

Dinner with the King of Spain, summer of 2015

French presidential election candidate for the En Marche ! movement Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte pose for the photograph, on April 22, 2017, in Le Touquet, northern France, on the eve of the first round of presidential election.
France is on edge on the eve of its most unpredictable presidential election in decades, which will happen under heightened security after the jihadist killing of a policeman. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Jean-Michel said he “almost fell off his chair” when he discovered their son was instead in a relationship with the mother not the daughter. “When Emmanuel met Brigitte, we certainly did not say ‘How wonderful!’”At the end of the week, his father went to the station to collect his son on his supposed return from a week’s revision with friends. At home, his parent confronted him.

“What mattered to me was not the fact he was having a relationship with Brigitte but that he was alive and that there weren’t any problems,” his mother said later.

But that is not how Emmanuel’s father remembered it. He said it was mainly his now ex-wife who was “wound-up… I figured, ‘he would get over it.’ I wasn’t worried, but Emmanuel still had to finish his schooling and not let it all go to waste.”

Françoise told Fulda: “We just couldn’t believe it. What is clear is that when Emmanuel met Brigitte, we couldn’t just say ‘That’s great.’”

Quick witted and sharp tongued, Brigitte handles the jokes and satire on their age difference with humour, “He (Emmanuel) needs to go for it (the Presidential race) in 2017 because by 2022, his problem will be my face,” she was quoted in Nicolas Prissette’s book Emmanuel Macron en marche vers l’Élysée. Though she has not admitted to it, cosmetic surgeons speculate that she has had hair extensions, teeth veneers, botox and a mini facelift.

Their three story villa in Touquet, northern France

So they staged an intervention to ask Mme Auziere to back off from the affair. Francoise pleaded with her, “Don’t you see? You’ve had your life. But he won’t have children with you.” In response, the errant teacher started to cry. Even when they asked her not to see their son until he had become an adult, she replied that she could not “promise anything”.

Not knowing what to do, they tried to match-make him with a girl his own age, but their son too refused to comply. The illicit affair had tongues wagging in the quiet, middle-class neighbourhood of Amiens where the respectable Jesuit school was located. Francoise recalled the reaction to the relationship from a woman at the reception desk of the hospital where she worked: “Ah, but what’s going on! I’ve been thinking of you, it’s terrible!” Left with no choice, the parents decided to send their son to one of the most demanding sixth-form colleges in France, Lycée Henri-IV in Paris, 90 miles (145km) away to get him away and make him focus on his work instead, hoping that he would forget.

PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 17: French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron gestures as he delivers a speech during a campaign rally at Bercy Arena on April 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Antoine Gyori/Corbis via Getty Images)

Macron believes in a secular state and defended the right of French Muslim women to wear the veil. Hence, the Grand Mosque of Paris urged the country’s Muslims to vote en masse for Macron as President

Macron promised Brigitte that he would come back to find her, “I will come back and marry you.”  She took him at his word. He continued to make clandestine trips back to his hometown to visit her in secret and when he was 18 and graduated from school, she followed him to Paris. According to what they have said to the press leading up to the election, Macron had only been in touch with Brigitte through letters and proposed marriage when her turned 18, the legal age when she could no longer be jailed for being in a sexual relationship with her minor student.

Brigitte Trogneux, wife of French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, casts her ballot in the second round of 2017 French presidential election, at a polling station in Le Touquet, France, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool

Upon his return to Amiens after finishing school, he told his mother: “I still love Brigitte, if you understand that then all the better, because if not I am going not going to stop.” With no choice in the matter, Macron’s parents reluctantly accepted.

“I had to fight in order to live both my private and my professional life as I wish,” Macron says. “I had to fight, and it wasn’t the easiest or the most obvious, or the most automatic thing to do, nor did it correspond to established norms.”

“Strength of conviction was required,” he said. “They thought on several occasions that it was going to stop and naturally did everything to encourage that. In fact, I don’t know how I myself would have reacted. It is very hard. An experience like that makes you think…You have to learn to fight for things, to bear the burden and have a life, which does not in any way correspond to other peoples’ lives. That was what we went through for 15 years. We managed to achieve the situation we’re in today, because we knew it was what we wanted. It didn’t just happen all by itself.”

While Brigitte continued to teach in Paris, Macron studied philosophy at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense, obtaining a DEA degree (Master of Advanced Studies) and worked as an editorial assistant to the distinguished French Protestant philosopher, Paul Ricoeur. He obtained a master’s degree in public affairs at Sciences Po, and trained for a senior civil service career at the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA), graduating in 2004.

In 2006, Brigitte finally divorced her long suffering husband and married Macron 18 months later. She was 54 and he 29. They got married in Touquet, northern France, in their country home where the couple often escapes to when not on duty in Paris.  His best man was Henry Hermand (1924–2016), the same businessman who loaned €550,000 to Macron to buy his first apartment in Paris when he was Inspector of Finances in the Ministry of Economy

During a BMFTV interview this April, Macron emphatically stated that he and his wife decided not to have any children. “We have chosen not to have children. A choice that was not selfish for me. It is a choice that has been assumed, which I had to make very young given the age difference. I did not need my biological children and grandchildren to give them as much love as I gave them.” The couple has seven grandchildren from Brigitte’s three offspring.

As Minister of Economy from 2004 to 2008, Macron focused on helping to improve French economic growth. In 2008, he paid €50,000 to buy himself out of his government contract and instead started to work as a highly paid investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque. In 2012, he was given a senior role in President Hollande’s staff, and in 2014, he was appointed as the Minister of Economy and Finance in the second Valls Cabinet, pushing through business-friendly reforms. At the Ministry, his wife remained a discreet presence during high level meetings. “She spends a lot of time here because her view matters to me, because she brings a different atmosphere that is important. My life is here, you cannot work well if you are not happy,” Macron said after he resigned from the Hollande government in 2016.

The next year, Macron declared that he had quit the Socialist Party years ago and was an independent. He formally founded an independent, liberal and progressive political party, En Marche!, in Amiens in 2016 and resigned from the government. In his speech announcing his candidacy, Macron called for a “democratic revolution” and promised to “unblock France.” Pro EU and a safe alternative to the “neo Fascist” Marie Le Pen, Macron gained many supporters from the Socialist Party, centrist and centre-right politicians. A New York Times article described Macron as “ardently pro-Europe and who has proudly embraced an unpopular European Union.” Many foreign politicians such as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former US President Barack Obama publicly supported him as a Presidential hopeful, as did the French minorities.

French President Emmanuel Macron kisses his mother Francoise Nogues as his father Jean Michel Macron looks on

With Brigitte’s mother

Macron’s mother
said that she sees Brigitte “more as a
friend than a

Where religion is concerned, Macron staunchly supports secularism (laïcité). He said that “we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity.” At the first meeting of En Marche!, Macron expressed opposition to the ban on Muslim headscarves in universities, “Personally, I do not believe we should be inventing new texts, new laws, new standards, in order to hunt down veils at universities and go after people who wear religious symbols during field trips.”

In an interview with the French news magazine Marianne, Macron said that “secularism is not designed to promote a republican religion.” He responded to comments made by other popular politicians regarding the practice of Islam in French society by condemning the notion that citizens should be “discreet” in their religious practice, stating that “historical precedents when we asked for discretion in matters of religion did not bring honor to the Republic….I ask one thing (of French Muslims): absolutely respect the rules while in public. Religious relationships are about transcendence, and I am not asking people to be moderate – that’s not what I’m arguing. My own deep conviction is that a practicing Catholic may believe that the laws of his religion go far beyond the laws of the Republic. I simply believe that when one enters the public realm, the laws of the Republic must prevail over religious law.” He also condemned “religious schools that teach hatred towards the Republic, with instruction mainly in Arabic or, in other instances, which teach the Torah more than basic fundamentals.” The Fonds Social Juif Unifié (FSJU), an organization that runs Jewish religious schools in France vociferously criticized this statement but the Grand Mosque of Paris urged French Muslims to vote en masse for Macron.

Brigitte Macron was actively involved in her husband’s campaign as was her youngest daughter. A top adviser even told an interviewer that “her presence is essential for him”.

“She spends all her time beside him, she reads and listens to everything that is said about him. He asks her questions and takes her advice,” the Paris Match magazine reported.

In an interview for Le Petit Journal, when asked why her husband was “so good at politics,” she retorted, “He is good at everything. Not just politics, you’re being quite restrictive. I’m yet to find an area where he isn’t good.”

Macron boldly told supporters that upon his winning the French presidency, “If I’m elected — no, sorry, when we are elected — she will be there, with a role and place that she always had with me, she will not be hidden.”

Macron formally became President on 14th  May 2017, the youngest person to ever be elected as President of France as well as the youngest French head of state since Napoleon. That is not surprising because in France though a politician must not be financially corrupt, his sexual and personal life doesn’t concern the public. In the past while in office, outgoing President Francois Hollande was caught having an affair with Julie Gayet, an actress nearly two decades his junior; former President Nicholas Sarkozy left his wife for the actress/musician/model Carla Bruni and even Jacques Chirac was nicknamed “five minutes, shower included” for his matter of fact, business-like approach to extramarital dalliance.

In a country like the U.S. however, this would never have happened as the laws there are much strictly enforced where teacher student impropriety and underage sexual relations is concerned. Though the age difference between the Macron is about the same as that between Donald and Melania Trump, even the Donald would not have gotten away it had he seduced a fifteen year old Melania.

Brigitte Macron was till 2015 teaching literature at the élite lycée Saint-Louis de Gonzague in Paris and now is expected to concentrate on education reform as France’s First Lady. “She will have an existence, she will have a voice there, a view on things. She will be at my side, as she has always been, but she will also have a public role,” Macron said.

Not everyone bows down to them in deference. French cartoonists and comedians regularly mock the couple’s age difference, portraying Macron as a schoolboy being instructed by his teacher. Macron blames latent misogyny for their not understanding their relationship. Brigitte handles the satire well and has even joked that his president run better be while she still looks presentable. “He needs to go for it in 2017 because by 2022, his problem will be my face,” she was quoted in Nicolas Prissette’s book Emmanuel Macron en marche vers l’Élysée.

Macron’s unconventional marriage has also led some to speculate that he’s secretly gay. As recently as February, he lightly dismissed rumors that he was having an affair with Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet: “If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr. Gallet it’s because my hologram has escaped.

The Macron’s unconventional marriage seems to work for them better than many more traditional set ups. The moral of the story to take away from this may be: don’t judge a book by its cover; or get them while they are young and make them dependant on you—it all depends on your perspective. Either way, taking up with an underage student regardless of the level of your connection is still morally reprehensible in my opinion.


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