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French presidential hopeful Copé has 'Marie Antoinette moment' over pain au chocolat

AFP archive | Out of touch? Jean-François Copé in 2012 when he was budget minister.

French presidential hopeful – and former budget minister – Jean-François Copé had a Marie Antoinette moment on Monday, admitting that he had “no idea” of the cost of a common breakfast pastry, the pain au chocolat.


"I have no idea,” Copé said in an interview on Europe 1 radio. “I think it must be around 10 or 15 centimes.”

A pain au chocolat -- an oblong version of the croissant with a chocolate filling -- costs around €1.20 in most French bakeries.

"I admit I don't buy them very often because ... you have to be a little careful because of the calories," Copé said, upon seeing he had fallen into a trap.

In the tweet below, Copé explains that since he watches his weight he is naturally in the dark about chocolate-filled pastries. 

Copé’s unfortunate slip recalls an 18th-century legend about French Queen Marie Antoinette who, when told that a famine had left the poor without bread to eat, replied: “Let them eat cake.”

It is also a classic trap used to highlight that politicians are out of touch. In the UK, many have been ambushed in the same way on the price of a pint of milk.

Copé is one of seven candidates vying for the conservative Les Républicains party nomination ahead of the April 2017 presidential election. The primary, open to all French voters, takes place at the end of November. 

Copé was France's budget minister from 2005 to 2007 under conservative president Jacques Chirac. In 2010, he became secretary general of the conservative UMP party (which became Les Républicains in 2015) then party chairman in 2012.  

Two years later, Copé resigned his position over allegations that his party submitted fake invoices linked to funding Nicolas Sarkozy's successful 2007 bid for the presidency. 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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