France’s president likes to tightly control all his communications and keeps journalists at arm’s-length – in stark contrast to his predecessor

One morning this spring, I found myself sitting in a place where the silence seemed so extraordinary, so far from the normal riotous cacophony of Paris, that it felt like being shut away from real life.

Now and again you could hear the chime of a golden clock, a faint footstep on carpet, or a bird chirping in the perfectly-kept gardens that stretched out beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. Whatever might be happening outside, here it felt as though one was perfectly muffled and cocooned; wrapped in several layers of metaphorical cotton wool and removed from it all.

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