French find new first lady "distant" - poll

PARIS Fri May 18, 2012 7:41pm EDT

Valerie Trierweiler, the companion of France's new President Francois Hollande, waves to supporters as she leaves after a traditional ceremony at Paris city hall on the day of Hollande's investiture in Paris May 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Valerie Trierweiler, the companion of France's new President Francois Hollande, waves to supporters as she leaves after a traditional ceremony at Paris city hall on the day of Hollande's investiture in Paris May 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stephane Mahe

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French find their new first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, to be down-to-earth compared to her former supermodel predecessor, but distant, a poll released on Friday said.

The Paris Match reporter took on her new role on Tuesday when her partner Francois Hollande became president, replacing Nicolas Sarkozy.

While Sarkozy had earned the nickname of "president bling bling" for a brash style and connections with the rich-and-famous, Hollande has styled himself "Mr. Normal".

Despite her movie-star looks, Trierweiler has said she wants to remain a working mother and has no intention of limiting herself to a role as "second fiddle, first lady".

She played a limited role in the campaign and so far has made little effort to reach out to the general public.

A Harris Interactive poll found that three out of four people surveyed found that she was indeed "independent" and 71 percent also considered her to be "normal".

In contrast, Carla Bruni brought a large dose of glamour to the Elysee presidential palace when Sarkozy married the supermodel-turned-singer at the beginning of his term in 2007.

While Trierweiler is seen as more down-to-earth than Bruni, when asked in the survey if respondents thought the new first lady was "close to the people" only a third said they did.

A quarter thought she should give up her journalism job, although 55 percent said she should no longer cover politics.

Trierweiler and Hollande are not married but she has been his partner for several years and is gaining a reputation for a feisty character after she sent an unwelcome big-wig from Hollande's Socialist Party packing and for pressing fellow journalists to keep their distance.

The poll was carried out on May 9-11 for women's magazine Grazia and was based on interviews with 1,300 people.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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