"“The role of first lady evolved as women in French society evolved,” Mr. Schneider said. “We went from de Gaulle’s wife, who was very submissive, taking care of the children, very discreet — it corresponded to a bourgeois French family. Then with Carla Bruni and Valérie Trierweiler, we came to modern women who take their place, and that will be accepted.”
But there is less support for overtly political first ladies, he said.
“She can’t be someone who whispers in the ears of the president,” said Alix Bouilhaguet, a journalist who covered the spouses of the presidential candidates. “We had that with Valérie. She created a blurring of the lines, and people didn’t like it.”