Nicolas Sarkozy was was in many ways an unusual president of France. He has been married three times and remains the only president ever to divorce whilst in office.
Divorce finalized in October 2007
Few politicians want to be known for their private escapades. They would much rather be remembered for their political achievements. That never seemed to be true for Nicolas Sarkozy, whose larger-than-life personality fed the gossip columns much more than the political commentaries.
He was first married in 1982 to Marie-Dominique Culioli. With her he had two sons. And during this marriage he kicked off his political career. It’s not quite clear when the couple separated, but they were apparently separated for a number of years before they divorced in 1996.
At that time he had already known his second wife Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz, whose first marriage he had actually officiated. Rumour has it that when he officiated the wedding, he already wanted Cécilia for himself. That was in 1988.
Cécilia, however, did not immediately return the sentiment and went on to have two daughters with her first husband. Eventually there were rumours of her and Nicolas having an affair and at some point she did leave her then-husband.
Once Nicolas’ divorce from his first wife was finalized he went on to marry Cécilia. Clearly she was divorced by then as well. The couple is said to have gone all out on their image as a political power couple. Instead of keeping their lives private they put them on display, inviting the media into their lives.
Cécilia was her husband’s greatest supporter and stayed close to him, advising him whilst he was climbing the political ladder. She even occupied an office right next to his when he became minister of the interior. Nicolas, on the other hand, brushed of her own political ambitions, which reportedly left her crushed.
In 2004 she met and fell in love with Richard Attias. The affair became public knowledge very quickly and reportedly hit Nicolas very hard. In 2005 Cécilia left her husband, which very nearly sent him into a downward spiral. Rebounding quickly, Nicolas ended up having an affair himself. His chosen one was a political correspondent who worked for Le Figaro.
He never stopped campaigning for Cécilia’s return, though, and eventually he won her over again, leaving his own affair behind. Nicolas was going to aim for the highest political office in the country and didn’t want to be a divorced single, even though polls had apparently confirmed that the French people wouldn’t be overly bothered by this.
Cécilia said that she didn’t want to disadvantage his political aspirations and therefore returned. But the marriage was irreparably damaged. Whilst Nicolas won the presidency and publicly declared his love for his wife and how they would stay together forever, Cécilia was barely seen by his side any more. She wasn’t even very subtle about staying away.
Four months after Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidency the divorce of the couple was announced. Apparently it had to be an uncontested divorce, meaning that both parties had to agree to it mutually. As president Nicolas was immune in court and could not have been forced to agree to a divorce had it been decreed by a judge against his will.
His office secure, it seems that he was no longer opposed to letting his long-suffering wife go. As it is, Cécilia later wrote a book, mentioning that she wanted out of the marriage because she felt no longer relevant. After she supported him and his aspirations for many years, this seems a rather sad end to their story.
Notorious womanizer Nicolas did not wait long before bouncing back either. A month after his divorce he met former model and singer Carla Bruni and started dating her right away. By February 2008 the two were married. And in 2011 they became parents to a daughter.
Nicolas lost his bid for re-election and has since retired from political life. He and Carla are still married and any rumours that they’ve been cheating on each other appear to be completely unfounded.
Cécilia returned to Richard Attias after her divorce from Nicolas and married him in 2008.