Perhaps it is the Spanish serenade in the background. Or the late summer heat leaving us a bit drowsy despite the afternoon breeze. But here we are — David de Rothschild and I, sipping our second espressos and pondering François Hollande’s romantic exploits. “I don’t know if he is a good lover but he appeals to women,” my 75-year-old guest says of the former president who was caught sneaking out of the Elysée Palace on a scooter to see his mistress. “To some women,” I feel the urge to say. For a second I wonder how Hollande’s love life fits in with our conversation — the first time the French Rothschild patriarch has truly let his guard down after an hour and a half of lively but careful discussion. Hollande is to serve as a counterpoint to his successor Emmanuel Macron — a Rothschild alumnus. Macron’s former employer is keen to emphasise the 40-year-old president’s qualities after I pointed out his high-handed governing style and declining approval ratings. In liberal circles abroa...

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