Bruni's passion for flowers pricks Sarkozy

Costly bouquets

The effort of President Sarkozy to open Elysée Palace to greater “transparency” may have backfired as its account revealed a colossal waste of public money amid the worst economic recession in generations. Apart from Sarkozy, the 41-year-old former Italian supermodel-turned-pop singer is particularly fond of fresh flowers, and is frequently pictured arranging huge vases full of them inside the Elysee.

Philippe Séguin, the state auditor, recommended cutting the floral bill after the first inspection revealed that his palace spent 600 pounds a day on bouquets.

The exorbitant florist’s bill can be attributed to the president’s wife, who has a passion for freshly cut flowers, The Times said.

Though her predecessor, Bernadette Chirac, had a similar obsession, particularly for roses, she checked the bill by growing them in the palace. Recommending a cut in the floral bill, the auditor complained the palace always went to the same suppliers even if it meant paying twice as much, according to the British daily. The grand annual July 14 garden party is being organised by the same firm since 1995 and cost 250,000 pounds in 2008, even though a competitor had offered to stage it for 160,000 pounds, the report said.

Many have begun to see President Sarkozy, with his glamorous wife, as one of the old French monarchs. A magazine recently nicknamed Bruni “Madame de Pompadour” after the influential mistress of Louis XV.

Carla was in the news recently when she broke her vow not to perform in public until her husband leaves office as she sang at a star-studded concert in New York to mark the 91st-birthday of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

 Dressed in a swish black trouser suit and strumming her guitar, she sang two duets — the first was Bruni’s most popular song, Quelqu’un m’a dit, (Someone told me), a folksy ballad with unmistakably existentialist lyrics.

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