Sarkozy's rich tastes are exposed
France may recently have suffered a credit agency downgrade, but President Nicolas Sarkozy's triple-A lifestyle in the Elysee Palace has been skewered in a new book.
Why should the French presidency, under Mr Sarkozy, operate twice as many cars as before? Why should Mr Sarkozy spend twice as much time travelling as his predecessor, Jacques Chirac? Why does Mr Sarkozy spend an average of more than three hours a day in an aircraft?
'L'Argent de l'Etat', by Rene Dosiere, an opposition Socialist politician who has chosen to publish the book less than three months before the presidential election, raises some awkward questions about the spending of both Mr Sarkozy and his prime minister, Francois Fillon, at a time when national and local budgets are being squeezed.
Mr Dosiere, a veteran campaigner against state extravagance, gives Mr Sarkozy credit where it is due.
Unlike his predecessors, Mr Sarkozy publishes an annual budget -- €136m a year -- for the expenses of the Elysee Palace.
Nonetheless, some bizarre and intriguing facts emerge. The Sarkozy Elysee operates 121 cars, compared to 55 under Mr Chirac. Mr Sarkozy travels twice as much as his predecessor.
Since the beginning of his presidency, he has spent an average of 24 hours a week in the air.
On top of that, about €12,000 a day is spent on food.
You may think a French president should occasionally take one of the country's high-speed trains. In fact, for security and cost reasons, this is impossible. An ancient rule demands a policeman must stand beside every railway bridge.
As it is, every provincial trip taken by Mr Sarkozy costs an average of €720,000.
Mr Sarkozy's love of summitry is also examined by Mr Dosiere. In 2008, he hosted a two-hour long summit which cost the French taxpayer €20m -- the equivalent of €70,000 a minute.