Brigitte Trogneux will bring a dramatic change of style to the Elysee Palace after her husband won the French Presidential election.
As his confidante, political counsellor and intellectual soulmate, Ms Trogneux, 64, will play a key role that has been compared to that of Michelle Obama during her time in the White House. Mr Macron, who calls himself “a convert to feminism”, intends to give his wife tasks, a staff and a budget — but no salary.
“Brigitte’s main interest is education reform and she will concentrate on work for autistic and disadvantaged kids, out of the political firing line,” predicted Candice Nedelec, co-author of a biography of the couple.
“He is someone with few friends (who) has the ability to walk on water through political attacks, (but) she takes it less well.”
Ms Trogneux’s relationship with Mr Macron — who is 25 years her junior — is a source of fascination to the French. It began while he was a student at a school in Amiens. She was his teacher and already married.
“Brigitte was the second great love of his life,” said Anne Fulda, another biographer. “He only had one girlfriend of his own age and those were the only two relations he ever had with women, which is quite exceptional today.”
Their affair scandalised society and Macron was banished by his parents to study in Paris, where he rose through France’s elite education system. The couple defied predictions their relationship would not last and married in 2007.
Macron, meanwhile, was pursuing a career in the civil service, after which he took a lucrative banking position at Rothschild before joining the administration of the Socialist president Francois Hollande. He became economy and finance minister in 2014.
Mr Macron has become a stepfather to Ms Trogneux’s sons, Sebastien and Laurence, and daughter Tiphaine. Their father, Andre-Louis Auziere, a banker, ended his marriage to Ms Trogneux on discovering his wife’s affair and has not publicly spoken of it since.
Ms Trogneux and Mr Macron act as joint grandparents to her seven grandchildren.
“It’s really like a normal second family. Emmanuel actually spends more time with Brigitte’s family than with his own,” said Fulda.
“The singular thing is that her children are about his age and her grandchildren could be his own children — they call him Daddy.”
The couple like to retreat to a house in the northern beach town of Le Touquet but they may have to abandon it as a hideaway because it stands on a main street and will pose a headache for the presidential security detail.
Ms Trogneux’s style is very different from that of past first ladies, such as Carla Bruni, Nicolas Sarkozy’s glamorous wife, or Valerie Trierweiler, Mr Hollande’s former partner.
Mr Macron’s desire to give his wife a meaningful role in his administration reflects the platform of his political movement En Marche!, which pledges to offer every woman maternity leave and has a commitment to equal pay in the public and private sectors.
Mr Macron has already kept a promise that half of the En Marche! candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections must be women.
Axelle Tessandier, 36, who left her consultancy business to work for Macron, said the values of his personal life translated into politics that appealed to younger voters. “It’s more like the open and confident France against the closed and distrustful one,” she said.