Forget global economic crisis, all eyes were on the First Ladies in France
Credit: Jason Reed/Reuters/Landov

With London conquered, Michelle Obama and her husband rapidly began winning Continental hearts in the French city of Strasbourg Friday. Whisked from Air Force One to the city’s gilded Rohan Palace, the Obamas came face-to-face with their glamorous equals – French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

While the political world focused on the NATO summit, the press was riveted by a fashion summit of the world’s two chicest first ladies. Michelle Obama wore a brilliant Thakoon three-quarter length black mantilla coat festooned with red poppies and tied at the neck. Bruni-Sarkozy, a former model for Chanel, donned a demure, bell-sleeved taupe suede coat with a large neck bow and a slim matching belt.

The former cover girl, who towers over her husband, diplomatically wore ballerina flats for the occasion.

‘Happy to See You’

Warmly exchanging double kisses, the two first ladies stepped next to greet each other’s husbands. And when President Obama asked Bruni-Sarkozy a question, all she could respond over the cries of the roaring crowd, was “They’re happy to see you!”

President Obama took that as an invitation to approach the barricades and shake the outstretched hands of his fans and exchange kisses. President Sarkozy, whose popularity has fallen in recent polls, sprang to join in the glad-handing.

Once inside the palace courtyard, Bruni guided Michelle Obama through the brief but strict protocol to view the French Garde Republicaine as they played the American and then the French national anthems. Then came lunch: guinea fowl stuffed with foie gras, coquilles Saint-Jacques and the green spring asparagus, a local delicacy.