The presidency of the French Fifth Republic has been likened to an elective monarchy.1 Once established in the Elysee Palace (as French kings would previously install themselves at Versailles), French Presidents surround themselves with a network of advisers plotting intrigue and counter-intrigue, a latterday monarchical court. Although comparisons should not be pushed too far, the monarchical metaphor does capture something of the essence of the French presidency. His formal status as head of state confers a prestige on the French President that surpasses that accorded to other European political leaders.