- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy has risked horrifying the historically anti-American French establishment by traveling to New Hampshire to spend a two-week summer holiday.

The newly elected leader, who has drawn howls of protests for his unashamedly pro-Anglo-Saxon stance, spurned his homeland and the Francophone destinations favored by his predecessors when he arrived Friday in the select lakeside town of Wolfeboro, N.H., north of Boston.

The choice of an American destination was seen by some as proof of his desire to bolster Franco-American ties sorely strained by the invasion of Iraq.

“Mr. and Mrs. Sarkozy are on holiday at the invitation of friends in a house situated two hours’ drive from Boston. They went there as a family on a regular flight,” said an Elysee Palace spokesman.

Mr. Sarkozy, 52, his wife, Cecilia, and their son, Louis, are reported to be staying in a luxurious villa owned by Mike Apple, a former Microsoft executive, which costs $30,000 a week to rent. The residence has a private beach, a marina with room for four boats, a spa, private cinema and video gaming room.

Wolfeboro is not far from President Bush’s family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, sparking suggestions in the French press that the two leaders might use the opportunity to get to know each other, perhaps going running together. Both are enthusiastic joggers.

Mr. Bush is scheduled to be in Kennebunkport from Thursday through Saturday, but no official appointments have been announced.

Like Mr. Bush, the French president is teetotaler — another source of irritation in wine-producing France. “It would really be astonishing if the two men would not benefit from this to meet each other,” said Le Parisien.

Mr. Sarkozy, who has been pictured wearing Manchester United and NYPD T-shirts, is seen as a breath of fresh air by American conservatives who loathed his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.

Mr. Chirac’s refusal to back an allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 sparked nationwide anti-French sentiment.

Like many food outlets, the cafeteria at the New Hampshire State House, briefly renamed its french fries as “freedom fries.”