Valery Giscard d'Estaing started his seven-year term as President of France today (Monday May 27), and at once introduced his own brand of informality to his office.
Valery Giscard d'Estaing started his seven-year term as President of France today (Monday May 27), and at once introduced his own brand of informality to his office. During his election campaign, he had promised to be a President who would walk in the streets like anyone else. And that's what he did today -- walking through crowded Paris streets on his way to the Elysee Palace where he was to be proclaimed president.
By contrast, the official ceremony was in the sumptuous grand ballroom of the Place. There, the new President received French's highest award, the Insignia of the Grand Master of Legion of Honour.
In a brief speech, President Giscard d'Estaing promised more changes -- on the political front. He said that the French people had called for the change themselves in the recent elections, adding: "From today a new era begins in French politics."
But there was also opportunity for tradition as the new head of state started his duties. He walked up the Champs Elysee to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe. Despite the continued informality, there was heavy security, with police sharp-shooters reportedly stationed on the roofs of buildings along the avenue.
One of President Giscard d'Estaing's first actions was to name his new Prime Minister. He's Gaullist Interior Minister Jacques Chirac who, at the age of 41, will be one of the youngest French Premiers.