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Where Presidents holiday

Le Fort de Brégançon

Le fort de Brégançon rouvre ses portes au public

Il était fermé depuis des mois pour cause de Covid-19, puis de vacances présidentielles…

Mettre ses pas dans ceux du président de la République : c'est la promesse des visites au fort de Brégançon (Var) qui reprennent lundi, après le séjour élyséen d'Emmanuel Macron et de son épouse cet été. « Ce sont des visites par groupes de 20 personnes maximum, avec masques et un guide qui raconte toute l'histoire du lieu », précise Valérie Collet, directrice de l'office du tourisme de Bormes-les-Mimosas où les réservations sont ouvertes. Depuis des mois, le fort restait fermé au public pour cause de la Covid-19 puis en raison des vacances présidentielles.

« Hier on s'est baignés sur la plage de Cabasson qui borde le fort et ça nous a donné l'idée », racontent Patricia et François, originaires de l'Oise et en vacances dans le Var. « Nous sommes à la retraite, alors on se balade. On aimerait visiter Brégançon et ensuite aller voir du côté du Cap Nègre où se trouvent Nicolas Sarkozy et Carla. » Il est vrai que, sur quelques kilomètres carrés, le village de Bormes a abrité deux anciens présidents cet été…

Six visites guidées par jour sont programmées jusqu'au 16 octobre, au tarif de 10 euros (gratuit pour les moins de 18 ans). « Elles durent plus de deux heures et on y raconte les vacances des présidents qui se sont succédé ici : Mitterrand, Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande… »

Dans le village de Bormes, le succès de Brégançon est tel que les objets à l'effigie de la présidence de la République s'arrachent à l'antenne de tourisme : « Porte-clés République française, boules à neige et sacoches bleu blanc rouge sont bientôt en rupture de stock », indique la directrice. Le carton de l'été ? Les boules de pétanque, fabriquées en France, et vendues dans un coffret Présidence.

Par Diane Andrésy  Le 27 août 2020 

And in case you are interested.....

How Fort de Brégançon can ruin a French president’s summer

The medieval fortress isn’t always a perfect getaway for the president.

Then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla at the Fort de Brégançon in 2011 | Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

Fort de Brégançon is beautiful, secluded and a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Paris. It's also been a pain in the derrière for French president after French president.

It's also old and needs a lot of maintenance — according to a 2018 report in Le Point, annual running costs could be as high as €700,000.

Naked Chirac

In 2001, Jacques Chirac was photographed on the terrace of the fort looking through binoculars at what was reported to be a yacht owned by Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher out in the Mediterranean. Chirac was completely naked and — scarcely believably — French media refused to publish the photos. Le Canard Enchaîné said the photographs "show the president in the most basic of all attires and displaying the principal organs of state."

Show-off Sarkozy

Not every French president is a fan of Fort de Brégançon. Nicolas Sarkozy would often head elsewhere for vacation, but, ever the media manipulator, he did realize the fort's value as the place to be seen. So when Carla Bruni was pregnant, they headed to the Riviera to be seen. The photos were put straight on the cover of Paris Match and appeared to show Sarkozy (1.66 m tall) and Bruni (1.75 m) at almost the same height. So maybe the beach has a slope.

Unfashionable Hollande

When they do have their clothes on, French presidents are supposed to be chic and sophisticated. Then there's poor François Hollande, who was snapped in 2012 with ex-partner Valérie Trierweiler wearing the ultimate dad-on-holiday wardrobe. It wasn't a great holiday for Hollande. Local press reported that the driver who was delivering 14 boxes of expensive cushions to the fort got lost (maybe he confused it with some other medieval fortress owned by the president!). And we all know that there's nothing ordinary people enjoy more than seeing their leaders splash the cash on haberdashery — especially if they are socialists!

Wet Macron

In 2018, the weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Macron and his wife, Brigitte, ordered up a swimming pool for the garden at the Fort de Brégançon. Although the fort comes with a private beach, the Macrons wanted a swimming environment with more privacy for their grandchildren — via Brigitte Macron’s first marriage. The above-ground pool (one can't be dug into the ground) — at 10 meters long, four metres wide and 1.5 metres deep and with a total construction cost of €34,000 — was a necessary expense, the president's office said, as going down to the residence's private beach involved deploying plenty of security, at an even greater cost. Mind you, €34,000 seems a bargain considering some of Macron's other expenditures — including as much as €500,000 replacing the tableware at the Elysée presidential palace, according to Le Canard Enchainé.

And now Macron's down at the fort again. This week's Paris Match features a photo of the president and his wife in matching white shirts looking spectacularly awkward. He'll be hoping there are no more mishaps.


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