As soon as new French President Francois Hollande was sworn in on Tuesday, he observed a postwar custom and reached out to Germany, in a move intended to underscore European solidarity and the importance of the alliance.
But it wasn't a relaxing social visit. Hollande's plane was struck by lightning en route to Berlin and had to return to Paris as a precaution. He then took another plane.
Francois Hollande took the oath of office today in pouring rain as France's latest leader and lost no time in turning to the country's economic problems. One of his first acts was to cut his salary by nearly a third. Now he's flying to Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel to talk about an unpopular European austerity program championed by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The French are known for being more tolerant than Americans about their politicians' private lives. One former French president even fathered a child with a mistress while in office.
But every French leader in history has been married — until now.
Next week, after Socialist Francois Hollande is sworn into office, he and his longtime companion, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, will become the first unmarried couple to move into the Elysee presidential palace.
Socialist Francois Hollande won the French presidency over the weekend, in large part due to his pledge to push for growth and battle the German-led austerity approach to Europe's fiscal problems. But what does that pledge mean in practical terms?