Saturday, 9 April 2011

A role model from the unlikely world of politics and finance?

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde comes over as the most sophisticated, elegant and stylish politician in the world today. Impressively fluent in English she deals effortlessly with complex matters of high finance in both languages and when grilled by the likes of Jeremy Paxman (at the BBC) she actually answers the questions! Amazing!

Ms Lagarde was born in Paris in 1956 and went to secondary school in Le Havre. She studied Law at the Sorbonne and went to the prestigious  Institute of Political Studies (L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques) in Aix-en-Provence , where she obtained a masters degree. Known as the Sciences Po, the institute is situated opposite the Cathedral St Sauveur, in the heart of Aix's atmospheric old town.

Before entering politics Ms Lagarde spent 20 years living in Chicago as a high flying lawyer. Known for speaking her mind, she is said to be more popular abroad than at home.

The grand entrance to the Sciences Po in Aix.

As a teenager Ms Lagarde swam for France in the French synchronised swimming team. Nowadays when she is not brokering political deals around the world she likes to tend her rose garden and make jam at her country home in Normandy, where she lives with  her partner. She has two grown up sons from a former marriage.

She is almost the embodiment of what we expect from a French woman in terms of appearance - elegant and chic. It just goes to show you can wear a Herm├Ęs scarf and carry a Birken bag and still play a crucial role in modernising a major western economy.

The first woman ever to be Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry of a G8 country, Ms Lagarde is consistently ranked as one of the most powerful women in the world today by magazines such as Forbes.
What a bright spark to have on the international stage.

Statue of St Peter in the cloisers of the cathedral in Aix.

One of the best things about the old winding streets in Aix is that many are traffic free, or there is very little traffic. Cafe tables wait for the weary walker and the sun is never far away.

Les Quatres Dauphins, one of Aix's famous fountains.

Place d'Albertas, another well known and tranquil spot in Aix.

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