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French President Makes Michelle Obama his Cause Celebre


First lady Michelle Obama waves on June 6, 2009 in Colleville-sur-Mer during D-Day celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the allied landings in France. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

The White House is refusing to comment today on reports that first lady Michelle Obama got special treatment during her trip to France last month.

Long after her departure, it seems, the first lady continues to be treated like a rock star -- or even like a princess -- in France, especially by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy says he made special calls to get stores opened for Mrs. Obama when she took her daughters, Malia and Sasha, shopping in Paris during their trip last month.

"Is it normal that when Mrs. Obama and her daughters, on a
 Sunday, want to go shopping in Paris stores, I have to make a 
call to get the shops to open?" Sarkozy said Tuesday during a speech
 in the Paris suburb of La Defense. "All the Obama supporters 
were there. Who is going to explain to them why France is the 
only country where shops are closed on Sundays?"

Actually it was the U.S. Embassy that made the calls, according to both Bloomberg News and the New York Daily News.

A few days before President Obama and his family traveled to Paris on the first weekend of June, the U.S. Embassy in Paris called Bonpoint, an upscale children's boutique in the St.-Germain-des-Près neighborhood, asking for the store to be opened for the visiting first family, Bloomberg reports.

The Daily News adds, "Presumably the boutique won't have to worry about paying hefty fines for shops that buck a 1906 law banning most Sunday shopping." The Paris stringer for the Daily News wrote a story Tuesday titled "Michelle Obama enjoys Paris privilege barred to millions in France: Sunday shopping."

Sarkozy is now hailing Michelle Obama as his prime example for why France should loosen its tough restrictions on shopping on Sundays. He says he will propose a bill in the coming weeks to accomplish just that, according to Bloomberg.

Contacted by the Sleuth, the first lady's press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, declined comment on the stories about Sarkozy's attempts to relax the shopping ban and his seemingly shrewd public relations decision to use Mrs. Obama as his cause celebre.

According to Bloomberg, Sarkozy's government attempted to loosen the Sunday labor rules earlier this year, an effort that was derailed by the Socialist-led opposition.

The Daily News notes that if Mrs. Obama had waited just three weeks and timed her trip for Paris's twice-annual sales, "her Bonpoint outing would have been much cheaper, with items marked down up to 50%."

Ah, c'est dommage!

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 1, 2009; 1:59 PM ET
 
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Comments

I love it! A Palin column followed by one featuring Sarkozy.

Remember when those Canadian comedians nailed Sarah P. in a call, as they pretended to be the French President. She totally fell for it.

Posted by: MikeK3 | July 1, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

With the US economy in such bad shape, why does Mrs. Obama need to shop overseas?

Posted by: shiver | July 1, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

shiver - You'd better hope that you're the only genius who gets around to asking that question, because I think the U.S. was hoping that a number of furriners might spend some money on American stuff over the next few months & years. Somehow, I imagine that the U.S. economy can survive a few high-profile overseas shopping splurges by Americans, especially if that has even a small chance of increasing goodwill in return.

Posted by: bobsewell | July 1, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

hooray for france as it continues to protect sundays for families. it used to be that way in the U.S. for many years, until americans, bored with their lives wander aimlessly through malls, supermarkets and other stores, simply passing time instead of using the time to spend with their families. i salute the french and other europeans who insist on shortened hours of operation for stores and supermarkets, thereby allowing employees to enjoy and nurture families. as for u.s. politicans that visit these countries, it comes as no great surprise that as typical spoiled americans, they insist on these countries conforming to their standards and expectations, rather than them learning to appreciate and accept the culture and laws of the countries they visit.

Posted by: htonamie | July 2, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Nice belt. Bet Mrs. Sarkozy's staff is burning up the phone to Michelle's people to see where she could get a belt like that. My guess is that it's from the Jackie O collection! (Halloween Costume Division). Can't wait for Robin the dunce, to swoon over the new, trim, athletic, devil may care, out there, "Belted", look. It's all the rage.

Posted by: hughglass | July 2, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

IT'S A GOOD TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT ALL THE CLOTHING LABELED "MADE IN THE USA" AND FOLLOW-UP ON WHERE THEY WERE REALLY MADE.
MANY STORES OR CELEBRETY BRANDS APPEAR TO BE SHOCKED WHEN THEY LEARN THAT THE MERCHANDIZE THEY ARE SELLING WAS MADE IN WINDOWLESS, FOUL AIRED FACTORIES BY YOUNG WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

NOT ONLY ARE THESE ITEMS MADE IN UNDER-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES AND COUNTRIES THAT EXPLOIT WOMEN AND CHILDREN, THEY DON'T EVEN PAY FULL DUTIES ON THE ITEMS THEY SHIP HERE. THE ITEMS ARE SHIPPED AS RAGS. IN ORDER TO SHIP AS RAGS, ONE PART OF THE ITEM MUST BE UNFINISHED. THAT COULD BE AS LITTLE AS BUTTONS.

THESE COMPANIES HAVE LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON TO LEGISLATE TO THE BENEFIT OF OUR CORPORATIONS.

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE COUNTRIES LIKE CHINA WHO SCREW-UP, DON'T STOP THERE. LOOK AT THE COMPANIES THAT BENEFIT FROM THESE POOR WORKING CONDITIONS.

REMEMBER THAT THE SWIFT MEAT PACKING COMPANY IN MEXICO WOULD NOT ALLOW U. S. INSPECTORS INTO THEIR PLANT DURING THE SWINE FLU EPIDEMIC. NO ONE FORCED THEM TO; BUT IN FINE PRINT, IN SOME NEWSPAPERS, SWIFT WAS HAVING A PROBLEM THAT WOULD HAVE CLOSED THEM, IN THE U.S.
WE NEED TO INSIST ON FULL DISCLOSURE OF COUNTRY OF ORIGIN AND QUALITY CONTROL ISSUES.

I CANNOT TELL IF THE PESTICIDE USED ON MY IMPORTED VEGETABLES IS HARMFUL TO MYSELF AND MY FAMILY.

AS FAR AS MRS OBAMA IS CONCERNED, SHE CAN SHOP WHEREVER SHE PLEASES.
I AM HAPPY THEY OPENED THE STORE FOR HER.
IT HELPS ME TO FORGIVE THEM FOR THEIR SHABBY TREATMENT OF OPRAH, AND OPRAH WAS NOT THERE ON A SUNDAY. SHE WAS JUST A BLACK WOMAN THAT THEY DID NOT REGOGNIZE AND ASSUMED SHE COULD NOT AFFORD TO SHOP THERE.
IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME HERE IN THE GOOD OLD U.S.A.
LET'S LOOK AT WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

Posted by: sm98yth | July 6, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

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