Another Model First Lady for France

French President says he will wed folk singer-model girlfriend Carla Bruni.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 7:18 AM

Jan. 8, 2008— -- Today the French found out there will be a new occupant in the presidential palace -- not a new president but a new first lady.

"This is serious," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters. "You'll probably find out about the wedding after it's already done."

The lucky woman, Carla Bruni, is a folk singer and former model, which would be just fine in famously permissive France -- except that Sarkozy was divorced just three months ago from Cecilia, another former model and mother of one of his children.

Perhaps more important, the French are used to their leaders keeping their private lives -- well, private. Former President Francois Mitterand had a daughter with his mistress.

"I didn't want to lie," Sarkozy said today. "I broke with a deplorable tradition."

And he broke the tradition with gusto. The couple has welcomed the paparazzi's attention from Disneyland in Paris to Egypt to Jordan. There, Sarkozy carried Bruni's son on his shoulders.

For many here, their public courtship lacks taste, particularly with the economy in trouble. The so-called "Carla effect" has helped drag down Sarkozy's approval rating from 65 percent in July to 48 percent today.

While Sarkozy's staying in pricey hotels with Bruni, one man told ABC News, we're all having trouble paying our bills.

And so, Sarkozy has a new nickname -- President Bling-Bling.