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Sarkozy and Bruni have power, live in a palace and are waited on by servants. When people have it all, why can't they just be happy?

IT seems no-one believes in fairy tales these days -- not even those living in one.

Take Nicolas Sarkozy, France's pocket-rocket President. He might be a small man at 5ft 5ins but it would be hard to think of one other single area in which his life comes up short.

He overcame a difficult childhood to become the most powerful man in his country. He lives in a real, actual, gilt-edged palace. His wife doesn't just look good in fancy French knickers: she made a career out of it.

It's like some secret fairy godmother took him aside as a child and said: "Listen kid, I know you weren't exactly hit by the handsome wand, but I swear I'll make it up to you."

All his life is missing now is some magic beans and a few talking bears to make his porridge in the morning. And let's face it, you don't need them when you've got a gardener and a cook stashed away in the Elysee.

So why the whispers of discontent? Why the rumours that he's been having an affair with one of his junior ministers? When you've reached the top, must the only way forward be down?

We've seen too much of this before. I hate to say the 'T' word again in case I wear it out but, okay, Tiger Woods is a prime example. He had the success, the talent, the riches and the beautiful, blonde wife. Now all he's got is a world of pain and middle America praying for his soul.

As for his opposite numbers in the "beautiful game" across the water? Well, it's all gone ugly there too. Some people just don't seem to know when they're well off.

I'm starting to think that not only is youth wasted on the young, but success is wasted on the successful. That the same drive and over-arching ambition that gets them to the point of having it all is also what makes them perpetually dissatisfied with their lot.

That's not to say that anyone ever thought Sarko and Bruni were a match made in heaven. There were a few sniggers behind the hands when they got married after only four months of meeting -- and five months after his previous wife left the marital bed.

If it's any fairy tale, it's a strange, sideways one where the princess kissed the frog and he stayed a frog. Neither is it a fairy tale where the princess stayed in every night embroidering pillowcases for her trousseau and waiting for her prince to come.

In an interview she gave before she married Sarkozy, Bruni said that monogamy bored her. And how. This is the woman who slept with the father of a man who fathered her son. Figure that one out.

So, forged in heaven, no. But sex, power, glamour and beauty are a pretty attractive mix on earth. And Carla looked very cute in her mid-height heels beside her president-on-a-box.

Notoriously sensitive about his height, or lack of it, Sarkozy has been snapped standing on a pedestal to make a speech beside his taller counterparts Gordon Brown and Barack Obama.

At a French factory, only the smallest workers were allowed to stand behind him for the official publicity photographs. He's even been seen standing on tippytoes during a photoshoot with Michelle Obama.

Now it appears that's not the height of his folly.

The thing is, Carla was reported to be in the throes of an affair of her own, with a younger musician. So what's going on here? It could be a hoax -- and there are plenty who never bought into the Bruno-Sarkozy fairy tale. They would readily believe that there won't be a happy ever after.

Or could it be that the pair have agreed amicably to an "open" marriage?

The French are very practical about this kind of thing. They don't generally care if their politicians have lovers or mistresses or second families as long as it doesn't interfere with the job in hand. (Well, the other job in hand). They call one's private affairs 'des jardins secrets' -- literally 'secret gardens' -- where no-one else should trespass.

Perhaps Sarko is not a malcontent sitting up in his ivory Elysee wondering what next to do for fun. Perhaps he and his princess bride have come to some 'arrangement'. If that's the case, then he's not only living the fairytale these days -- he's living the dream.