French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron was driven to succeed by a burning and controversial love for the married drama teacher 24 years his senior who became his wife, according to a former professor.
The 39-year-old Macron is still trying to prove his parents wrong and show his wife Brigitte Trogneux-Macron, 64, that she was right to turn her life ‘upside down’ for him, his former English professor Christian Monjou told MailOnline.
In an exclusive interview, Prof Monjou told how the heartbroken teenager was exiled to Paris aged 17 by his parents who were furious at their son’s scandalous affair and warned the mother-of-three to ‘stay away’ until he turned 18.
Prof Monjou added: ‘He wanted to prove to his parents that he had not made a mistake in falling in love with his teacher.
‘And he wanted to prove to his now wife that she had made the right choice in turning her life upside down to be with him.’
‘Great seducer’: Emmanuel Macron is described as incredibly charismatic by his former teacher, who reveals that the presidential hopeful is driven by a desire to prove to his parents and wife that he was right to pursue the relationship against all the odds
So close: The couple are rarely now seen apart and Ms Trogneux-Macron is by his side at almost all campaign events. They have withstood criticism of the liaison but Ms Trogneux-Macron’s three grown-up children are supportive of the marriage
En Marche founder Macron is expected to be the next French President and swept through to the final round of voting this week on a wave of popular support for his centrist movement.
But it is his love affair with the glamorous Brigitte, whom he fell in love with aged just 15 during drama classes at a private Catholic school in Amiens, northern France, that has captivated the world’s imagination.
Giving an insight into how and why the romantic liaison has succeeded against the odds, Prof Monjou, former English teacher at the Lycee Henri IV, told MailOnline: ‘Emmanuel Macron had the determination to succeed because he had to fight for recognition.’
A bright and intellectual student, Macron shunned the playground for the library during his down-time at La Providence, the private Jesuit-run secondary school he attended before being exiled to Paris.
So it was little surprise that when inspirational drama teacher Brigitte Trogneux-Auziere complained there were not enough parts in a play for the class the teenage Macron suggested they co-write a new script.
To start with the closeness of the attractive blonde teacher to the ‘know-it-all’ floppy-haired student did not trouble her husband Andre-Louis Auziere, an executive at the BCFE French international commerce bank.
He was used to students coming over for dinner on a Friday night, bringing gifts of flowers and bottles of champagne.
Destined: Emmanuel Macron, pictured centre in white jacket,’has a particular charm’, according to his former English teacher. ‘He displays a combination of brilliance and mystery that is almost irresistible’
Fierce intellect: After Emmanuel’s father, Jean-Michel, learned of his son’s infatuation he exiled him to the Lycee-Henri IV, the top secondary school in France, to prepare for university entrance exams. Former teacher Monsieur Monjou told MailOnline: ‘[He wanted to] get him away from Amiens and the scandal of his love affair with his teacher’
But when the teacher-student relationship burst into an affair, the scandal was talk of the town, which surrounded by the battlefields of the Sommes is more associated with the guns of war than the songs of love.
‘It was a huge scandal at the time,’ Benoit Delespierre, a local journalist who is close to the Trogneux family told MailOnline.
‘People are opened-minded about love and sex in France. But still it was a big deal. She was married with three children and he was her pupil. You can imagine what the other parents made of it all.’
‘We knew they were close,’ said former classmate Antoine Joannes. ‘I saw this fusion happening between them. But I imagined then that it was platonic love.’
The youngest of six children, Brigitte ‘Bibi’ was born into the Trogneux family, a pillar of the Amiens community who own a string of high-class chocolate and macaroon – a kind of biscuit – shops across northern France.
‘It’s true, my brothers and sisters went for me,’ Brigitte told author Anne Fulda, whose book ‘Emmanuel Macron: A Perfect Young Man’ was published this month.
Brigitte has refused to reveal when the unlikely pair first became intimate, proclaiming it ‘our secret’.
‘Nobody will ever know at what moment our story became a love story. That belongs to us. That is our secret,’ she said.
Brilliant: According to Emmanuel’s former teacher, Brigitte Trogneaux, pictured above, ‘is widely considered to have been a excellent teacher, both in terms of professional ability and in human terms’
Sealed with a kiss: This was the moment the young Brigitte Trogneaux kissed her pupil, Macron, on the cheek after his impressive performance in the school play
Smile of love: Emmanuel Macron beams as he receives a kiss from his drama teacher after a successful performance. 24 years later the two kissed on stage after Macron went through in the first round of presidential voting
But Macron’s parents, both doctors, were not impressed. However, they decided not to make a complaint of ‘corruption of a minor’ to the police.
His mother Francoise said: ‘We couldn’t believe it. What is clear is that when Emmanuel met Brigitte, we couldn’t just say, ‘That’s great!’
She confronted Brigitte and begged her to leave her son alone, at least until he was 18.
‘Brigitte said she couldn’t promise her anything,’ political writer Madame Fulda, who was given access to Macron, his wife and his parents for her book, told MailOnline.
‘His mother said to her, she’d had her life, she had her children and she couldn’t give him children.
‘It must have been so hard for her to see her son with a woman almost her age. It is somewhat ironic to think that Emmanuel’s parents got married the same year as Brigitte married the husband she left for their son.
‘Any mother would have found that hard.’
Macron’s father, Jean-Michel, packed his son off the Lycee-Henri IV, the top secondary school in France, to prepare for university entrance exams.
Prof Monjou told MailOnline: ‘His father sent Emmanuel to the Henry IV school to get him away from Amiens and the scandal of his love affair with his teacher.
Love story: Former classmate Cecile Falcon told MailOnline that Emmanuel and Brigitte’s relationship is ‘a wonderful love story.’ She added: ‘Emmanuel was brilliant in class. Good at literature and philosophy, very intellectual but also charming. He never went for another student in a nasty way during a debate’. Pictured: The couple on holiday in Biarritz in August 2016
Happy ever after: A video of the couple’s marriage shows the whole family gathered in celebration of the union that had initially left his parents shocked and anxious
Glamour couple: Macron and his wife Brigitte were pictured on holiday in the South of France in an image that showed a more relaxed side to the intense presidential hopeful
‘His father contacted the head teacher directly and asked if he would accept his son so he would be separated from Madame Trogneux-Macron.
‘The headteacher Patrice Corre was sympathetic and kept the family’s secret.’
For his part young Macron had made up his mind.
Exiled to Paris he told Brigitte: ‘It doesn’t matter what you do. One day I will marry you.’
And it was with the support of his beloved grandmother, Manette, that he managed to cope.
It was to her to whom he turned when Brigitte accepted, age or not, that Macron had won her heart and she would leave her husband.
‘It took a year to win the grandmother round,’ said Ms Fulda who was given unprecedented access to the family when writing the book.
The young Macron had always been close to her and had even asked to live with her when he was five years old.
‘But of course that was not permitted,’ the author told MailOnline. It was his mother, though, who finally approved the relationship.
‘There was a child born a year before Emmanuel,’ explained Ms Fulda. ‘She died and it had a profound affect on his mother – I think a depression.
‘But she saw that what they had was very, very real [between Emmanuel and Brigitte] and she gave her blessing.
Onwards! Emmanuel Macron kisses his wife his wife Ms Trogneux-Macron after the first round of the French presidential elections in Paris on 23 April 2017
‘Both Emmanuel and Brigitte knew that if she hadn’t it would be over. She was the most important woman in his life even before Brigitte. He spoke to her every night, no matter how late – real conversations, long conversations.’
Regarded by many as the best school in France, the teenage Macron worked hard at the Lycee Henri IV to fulfil his potential.
Prof Monjou observed: ‘He had a concentration that was unique among his contemporaries.
‘But also there was a distance as if there was always something else on his mind.
‘This is possibly due to the tension he was under because of his complicated love life.
‘And I believe his political ambition is part of this ambition to prove that he has made the right choices in life.
Macron’s mother Francoise Nogues-Macron was initially concerned about the relationship but is now friends with her daughter in law. She recalled: ‘With Brigitte, it’s adoration.’
‘Later he transferred this determination to succeed into his political life.’
Described by a former classmate as ‘handsome and charming’, Macron made it clear that he was not available.
Cecile Falcon told MailOnline: ‘Emmanuel was brilliant in class. Good at literature and philosophy, very intellectual but also charming. He never went for another student in a nasty way during a debate.
‘He was also handsome and charming but he was honest about his status, that he was with someone.
‘He never told anyone about his affair with his former teacher, but somehow we all knew. He was very discreet but he was completely faithful to her, there were games of seduction.
‘The pressure from his parents must have been terrible.
‘Theirs really is a wonderful love story.’
Returning to Amiens at weekends with his dirty laundry, Macron kept up his relationship with Brigitte, who struggled as the source of much amusement among the small-minded in the town.
‘Knee deep in scandal’, is how one French magazine described her life in the years after the affair became known.
‘In all honesty the Trogneux family don’t really like talking about Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron,’ Monsieur Delespierre told MailOnline.
Her husband Andre left the family home but her three children Sebastian, Laurence – who had been in the same class as Emmanuel – and Tiphaine remained.
Despite their best endeavours to be discreet one of her former students cried out ‘Madame Auziere’ in shock when she saw her walking arm in arm with Macron on the streets of Lille one afternoon.
By his side: Despite the early controversy around their relationship, Brigitte Trogneux-Macron has been at his side throughout his career in politics. Pictured: Emmanuel Macron as French economy and industry minister in August 2016
Monsieur Delespierre continued: ‘It was a huge embarrassment for Brigitte’s family – the Trogneux.
‘They are one of the big names in Amiens. Her father Jean was furious.
‘Brigitte is the youngest of six children. It is fair to say she was indulged as a child, spoilt even.
‘Despite everything that has happened she has always had a very good relationship with her children. They are all very close.
‘But the ex-husband left the family home. He worked at a bank. But really Brigitte’s family are the one with the money, the connections, the reputation.’
Monsieur Auziere could not be reached for comment by MailOnline.
Despite his obvious ability, the young Macron failed to pass the exam to get into the Ecole Normale Superior (ENS), the equivalent to Oxford or Cambridge.
Macron’s former English professor Christian Monjou, has told how the heart-broken teenager was exiled to Paris by parents who were furious at their son’s scandalous affair
Instead he went to the Ecole National d’Administration – the breeding ground of government ministers and civil servants.
Posted to Nigeria on a six-month university placement, Macron left with a solid token of Brigitte’s love, the gold ring which he still wears on right hand.
Macron’s mother Francoise Nogues-Macron recalled: ‘With Brigitte, it’s adoration.
‘I remember when he was at ENA [university] he left letters from young women he was training with unopened.
‘[Supermodel] Laetitia Casta could undress in front of him and he would do nothing. Because the love between Emmanuel and Brigitte is completely sealed.’
Macron and Brigitte went on to set up homes in Paris and Le Touquet, the art-deco beach resort on the English Channel where the Trogneux family has property.
Finally, 13 years after their controversial love affair began rising political star Emmanuel Macron and grandmother-of-seven Brigitte got married in the prestigious Westminster Hotel in Le Touquet.
‘When he decided to marry my mother, because he told her he would marry her, he came to see us and told us that he wanted to marry our mother,’ Madam Trogneux-Macron’s daughter Tiphaine Auzière told BFMTV.
‘It was a strong act because not everybody would have taken this precaution and had asked us before. He made sure to know if it would be something that her children would accept.’
In his wedding speech in October 2007 speech the presidential candidate thanked his guests for being witness ‘to the last 13 years’.