When Emmanuel Macron’s parents found out that he had fallen in love with his drama teacher in 1994, they were desperate to avoid scandal and packed him off to finish his last year of high school in Paris, two hours south of their home in Amiens.
But the separation only intensified the passion between Macron, then 16 going on 17, and Brigitte Auziere, then 41.
Every weekend, Macron, who became president of France in 2017, rushed home, “his suitcase full of dirty laundry and only one thought in his head — to see Brigitte,” writes Maelle Brun, the author of a bombshell biography of France’s first lady that hit French bookshelves in 2018.
In “Brigitte Macron: An Unfettered Woman,” Brun reports that members of Brigitte’s own family found out about the affair in the summer of 1994 after they caught the two of them sunbathing around the pool at the home of the teacher’s aging parents. On most summer weekends while Macron was still in high school, they would meet at the pool and Macron would hide in the bushes if anyone approached, wearing a towel over his bathing suit, Brun notes.
Once the relationship between the straight-A student and his drama teacher became the stuff of local gossip, neighbors and friends in Amiens, a picturesque city of 135,000 on the River Somme, sent anonymous letters to the headquarters of the storied chocolate and macaron factory run by Brigitte’s family denouncing the relationship.
They also spit on the doors of the future first lady of France, Brun writes.
“From one day to the next, her friends with whom she was planning a vacation, refused to speak to her,” writes Brun, who traveled to Amiens to interview many of Macron’s former schoolmates as well as the couple’s family and friends.
When she met Macron at the private, Jesuit-run high school where she worked as a literature and drama teacher, Brigitte seemed happily married to banker Andre-Louis Auziere, with whom she was raising their three children. She was one of the most popular teachers at the local high school, inviting her students for cocktails at her home, and encouraging them to call her by her first name, former students told Brun.
She grew fond of Macron, then 14, one of her best drama students, especially as they worked closely on the school play, “The Art of Comedy,” by Italian playwright Eduardo de Filippo. Macron played the lead role of the manager of a small theater company whose theater burns down.
‘I was surprised to see a teacher walking with one of her students on a Sunday.’
“There was a real chemistry between them,” said Antoine Joannes, a former schoolmate of Macron’s. “When I knew they were a couple, I was neither surprised nor shocked. They seemed really good together, even at that time.”
Another unidentified former schoolmate described the exact moment he realized that Macron was dating his teacher when he saw them walking together along the Somme River promenade just before school let out for the summer in 1994, when Macron was still 16, and Brigitte was 41.
“I was surprised to see a teacher walking with one of her students on a Sunday,” he said. “I told no one about it. I kept it to myself.”
Auziere took the news of his wife’s infatuation with the teenager two years later “like a slap in the face,” particularly since their daughter, Laurence, was a classmate of Macron’s at the Lycee La Providence.
Auziere immediately left town and was so embarrassed that he refused to return for his own mother’s funeral in Amiens some years later, according to Brun’s book.
“He was never seen again,” a neighbor in Amiens told Brun. “It was as if he had disappeared.”
The divorce dragged out for a decade, and during that time Macron would go on to university to study politics and international affairs, but his passion for his older girlfriend remained intense.
“Every Friday after our Spanish lesson, he would run to the train station and jump on the train,” said Gaspard Gantzer, who attended university with Macron in Strasbourg.
Although Macron’s friends were at first shocked by his relationship with Brigitte, the couple decided to marry in the autumn of 2007, a year after Brigitte’s divorce. He was 29. She was 54.
The wedding took place at city hall in the beach-front town of Le Touquet, the same place where Brigitte had married her first husband in 1974 and where her family owned a weekend home. Brigitte wore a short white dress. Her three children attended as well as other family members and Macron’s own parents, who had since divorced.
“Each and every one of you is a witness to these last 13 years,” said Macron in a toast to his bride and new family. “And you have accepted us. You have made us what we are today … I want to thank you for loving us the way we are, and I want to thank Brigitte’s children because this has not been easy for them.”
After the wedding, the couple moved to Paris to support Macron’s growing political career. Brigitte would eventually quit her job as a teacher to work as her husband’s main consultant when he became finance minister in the government of Francois Hollande in 2014.
She remained by his side as he ran for president, and weathered blistering attacks in the French media, including allegations that Macron was using her as a front to cover up a homosexual relationship with the head of Radio France.
Although the couple put on a brave show for the media, and Macron vigorously denied the allegations, in private Brigitte was very upset about the rumors, reports Brun. As one of her friends told the author, “This is a woman who has already endured a great deal of pain.”