Valerie Trierweiler may be known for her everywoman style, but it seems the French first lady's fashion sense is not the only down-to-earth thing about her.
According to a statement posted April 30 on the French National Assembly's website, Trierweiler's staff budget costs significantly less than that of her predecessor, Carla Bruni. France's government funds the salaries of five employees on Trierweiler's staff for a total monthly expense of 19,742 euros (about $25,000).
Comparatively, former first lady Carla Bruni had eight regular employees on staff. Her total expenditure for the month of January 2012, which included two more salaries for outsourced staffers who ran her website, was more than 60,000 euros (around $78,000).
The question of Trierweiler's expenses was first posed in March by parliament member Guillaume Larrivé, a politician in former President Nicolas Sarkozy's party who may have sought to show that Trierweiler is a burden on the state, as The Guardian notes. However, it seems the attempt failed and instead illustrated that Bruni had been more of an economic burden.
Speaking to Europe 1 radio Saturday, Larrivé pointed out that the cost differences may have something to do with Trierweiler's relationship with French President François Hollande. Though the 48-year-old is widely considered to be France's first lady, she is not actually married to Hollande.
Trierweiler stoked the ire of many French women after she moved into the Elysée Palace with Hollande shortly after the election in May, despite not being married to the French president. In October, Carla Bruni famously spoke out on the issue of the current first lady's marriage and urged Trierweiler to wed Hollande and become a "legitimate wife."
The news of Trierweiler's relatively low monthly budget may actually be a boon for Hollande, who faced harsh criticism and protests recently, following the anniversary of his first year in office. On Sunday, tens of thousands of supporters from left-leaning parties demonstrated in Paris to protest Hollande's failure to enact an economic stimulus. Despite efforts to assert himself as a "normal president," such as putting up for auction 1,200 bottles from the presidential wine cellar, Hollande still remains largely unpopular in public opinion.