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Sarko's rogue dad heaps praise on Carla

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's father, a self-confessed bon vivant and womaniser, said he is about to set the record straight in an autobiography which aims to counter claims he was a bad father.

Pal Sarkozy wrote Tant De Vie, which translates as So Much Life, after son Nicolas, advised him against filing lawsuits against his disparagers and instead to "answer later... about all these unjust accusations", the 81-year-old said in an interview.

"This wasn't for the world, it was for my family. I wanted to talk to my children," and a book was "the simplest thing", he said in the interview, given on the sidelines of France's annual Book Fair.

A Hungarian immigrant who arrived in France in 1948 penniless, Pal Sarkozy concedes that he hid his past and failed to pass on his heritage to his five children -- four sons and a daughter from two of his four wives -- because "I wanted them to become French."

But Pal Sarkozy questioned whether his son, Nicolas, who is married to former model Carla Bruni, should even want to make a second run for re-election in 2012.

"I think for him he will have a lot fewer worries than he has now" if he doesn't seek a second mandate, the father said.

As a child, he said, Nicolas was the most "turbulent" among his sons.

Today, the president maintains a high-speed agenda, but first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy calms him, his father said.

"Each time Carla enters a room and Nicolas is there, you see right away that Nicolas relaxes. He has a different smile on his lips than when she isn't there."

Scores of people, cameras clicking, surrounded Pal Sarkozy when he arrived at the fair to autograph copies of his book.

The book is peppered with accounts of his prolific love life, from his first experience at age 11 with his nurse in Hungary to the mistresses who dotted his married life.

Why tell the world?

"All of my family laughed a lot about what I said, and they're not upset with me at all," he said.