Update Jan. 8: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told reporters in Paris that his relationship with Carla Bruni is "serious," but declined to reveal wedding plans. He said there was a "strong chance" the media would learn about a wedding only after the fact.
The French capital is abuzz with talk about their "bling-bling" president seeking the limelight. After his wife Cecilia divorced him in October, the 52-year-old president immediately set about shoring up his wounded ego by dating various attractive women. In the last few weeks, Nicolas Sarkozy has made a public spectacle of his relationship with the Italian former model turned singer Carla Bruni, 39. The couple has encouraged photographs at Disneyland Paris, various holiday spots in Egypt and now at Petra, Jordan. Ironically, Sarkozy's former wife once fled to Jordan with the man for whom she left Sarkozy. The Sarkozys reconciled prior to the French presidential election.
Inviting media attention to his personal life is in stark contrast to Sarkozy's previous behaviour, when he sued Paris Match and some newspapers for publishing photos of his wife Cecilia and reporting that she didn't bother to vote in the final round of the presidential election.
Several French publications are rife with speculation that Sarkozy and Bruni will marry. Le Journal du Dimanche, owned by one of Sarkozy's closest friends, announced on its front page that the couple would marry on February 8 or 9 - barely three months after they first met. This is too much for a nation that traditionally exercises discretion, when it comes to private life.
Sarkozy's "in your face" presidency has angered many of his supporters. Some Parisiennes suspect that the Sarkozy-Bruni courtship has been little more than a mutually-beneficial publicity stunt, designed to detract attention from unpopular issues, such as the Paris visit of Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi. The publicity also may have contributed to increased sales of Bruni's new album. Critics wonder why Bruni, who publicly supported Sarkozy's Socialist political rival Segolene Royal, would spend time with such a right-wing politician. Yet Bruni's mother has been quoted in the Italian press as having given permission for Sarkozy to marry her daughter. The Elysée Palace has declined comment.