Sunday 19 November 2017

The secrets to Brigitte Macron's age-defying appearance

She has a physique that women half her age would envy. But is it all down to 10 portions of fruit and veg? Eleanor Steafel reports

French First Lady Brigitte Macron Takes a Walk along the Hudson River on September 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images)
French First Lady Brigitte Macron Takes a Walk along the Hudson River on September 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images)
Brigitte with hubby, French President Emmanuel Macron Photo: Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Macron (C) arrive with their dog called Nemo to pose for a family picture with French chefs during an event at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on September 27, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Macron (C) arrive with their dog called Nemo to pose for a family picture with French chefs during an event at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on September 27, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron pose during a meeting at the Palais grand-ducal in Luxembourg on August 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ludovic MARINLUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
Picture of health: Brigitte Macron in slim-cut navy tailoring Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

She is a grandmother of seven who looks better in skinny jeans and a pair of stilettos than most women half her age.

As the French president's wife, you might expect Brigitte Macron's (64) slim figure and ageless beauty to have had a helping hand from a rigid diet of green juices and turmeric lattes in lieu of actual food; daily hot yoga sessions and regular hydrafacials in her suite at the Elysée Palace. Or maybe not.

Because while Madame Macron's look is impressively age-defying, it was revealed this weekend that deep down she is a thoroughly old fashioned girl. Her secret? Ten kinds of fruits and vegetables every day, and a healthy dose of cheese and wine when she fancies.

According to Guillaume Gomez, head chef at the Elysée, who revealed the secrets of the presidential kitchen in a newspaper interview, the Macrons are surprisingly traditional.

The couple can of course request anything they want of their kitchen staff, but Mr Gomez told how he mainly serves proper French country cooking, using produce from less than 100km from Paris and herbs from the palace gardens.

His team of 25 cooks still use copper saucepans that were in the kitchens of Napoleon in the early 1800s to whip up comforting dishes like cordon bleu, one of the president's favourites.

Brigitte with hubby, French President Emmanuel Macron Photo: Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images
Brigitte with hubby, French President Emmanuel Macron Photo: Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

"We adapt to presidential tastes," he said, adding that cheese and wine were back on the menu after Mr Sarkozy took them off during his five-year stint in the Elysée.

Their only stipulations? Ten fruits and vegetables a day for Mme Macron, and "no junk food" for her husband (her request, not his).

So is it enough to cram your diet with fruit and veg? Or do you have to shell out for a personal trainer and never look at bread or chocolate again to get in shape?

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Brigitte with hubby, French President Emmanuel Macron Photo: Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

The Brigitte: how to get the look

The diet

We now know Mme Macron is all about the fruit and veg, but is it enough to have a smoothie in the morning and a mound of salad with your dinner in the evening?

Dietitian Paula Mee says upping your intake of fruit and veg is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy later in life.

"Ideally, seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day - generally three fruits and four veg - is healthy," she says. "We know that populations who eat a lot of this ingest plenty of nutrients and phytochemicals, which protect from diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancers. In Ireland, we often have two proteins in a sandwich, like ham and cheese or egg and ham, and it's advisable to swap one of these out for a salad filling."

But it isn't enough to simply put 10 ingredients in a blender and drink them as a smoothie. "Some people think they can drink two pints of kale, spinach and avocado smoothies, but that only counts as one portion," says Paula. "It's because the blending machine does the work for us. When we chew food, the neurotransmitters in the brain tell us we are satisfied. Ideally, we'd like people to eat the whole fruit. Smoothies are definitely better if you leave the pulp and dietary fibre in them."

Mme Macron's lean, lithe physique is likely influenced by cultural factors, too: "I doubt she is eating lots of refined carbs and processed food," observes Paula. "The French are particularly good at portion control. They are renowned for eating slowly and modestly, and they're very respectful of food and courses. It's likely she is eating lots of salad, then lean protein like fish."

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Desislava Radeva (R), wife of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, and Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron walk during an official ceremony in Euxinograd residence, near Varna, Bulgaria, August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

The exercise regime

Mme Macron isn't afraid of showing off her legs and appears to be slim and strong, without looking gaunt or over sinewy. When visiting Paris recently, Donald Trump commented she looked "in such good shape".

Creepy observations from world leaders aside, Mme Macron does, it has to be said, look to be in incredible shape. So what is she doing? Personal trainer Pat Henry says her slender frame suggests not only good genes, but a combination of Pilates and symmetrical exercise (focusing on all muscles groups equally in a workout). "She doesn't use heavy weights as they could bulk up the bum or legs," he explains. "Doing 15-20 reps of light weights helps to tone. Pilates was originally designed for dancers to elongate their muscles. Pilates on its own won't tone, but will definitely give long, lean muscles."

'Le Look' Vogue has named her look "Chic Bobo aesthetic" (she's all slim-cut navy tailoring, low-heeled shoes, shiny-but-not-obviously-coiffed hair) and Delphine de Canecaude, a Paris-based art director, described her as a "mega wonderwoman".

"She's rock 'n' roll," she told L'Express. "Not for a second does she say, 'I'm 64, so I cannot wear short skirts'. Twelve-inch heels, sleeveless dresses, leather trousers, she dares everything."

To complete the look, makeup artist Emma Farrell recommends finding a great colourist to perfect that honeyed blonde bob, and go heavy on the bronzer. "If you have a nice healthy glow like Brigitte's, bronzers are definitely better than heavy foundations," she says. "Shimmering body oils can accentuate a tan, and Luxe, who are French, do a particularly good one. If you have a year-round tan, you don't need to wear as much make-up on the skin, and can go for BB creams or CC foundations rather than full coverage."

Irish Independent

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