Image: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy
Neal Hamberg  /  Reuters
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy paddles a canoe with his son Louis while on vacation in New Hampshire on Saturday.
updated 8/6/2007 9:47:42 PM ET 2007-08-07T01:47:42

Politicians from France’s opposition Socialist Party on Monday demanded to know who was paying for conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s New England vacation.

The Sarkozys have been staying in New Hampshire at an estate on Lake Winnipesaukee owned by former Microsoft Corp. executive Michael Appe. The estate can be rented for $30,000 a week, according to a rental Web site.

Sarkozy told reporters a day earlier that some friends had rented the house and invited him and his family. He did not identify the friends.

“The French people ... have the right to know which generous donor is paying such a price for our president, and to whom he must show his gratitude to in one way or another,” former Socialist Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said in a statement.

Another Socialist, former European Affairs minister Pierre Moscovici, said: “This is not about casting suspicion on his honesty, his integrity or independence, but the head of state is not like everybody else.”

“In every situation, and even on vacation, he represents France,” Moscovici told Le Parisien newspaper.

At a news conference Sunday, Sarkozy tried to put a stop to curiosity about his vacation in the town of Wolfeboro, which traces its history back to 1759 and claims to be the oldest summer resort in America. The questions included how much the visit cost and who was paying for it.

“I’m in Wolfeboro because I have friends who have been coming here for years, who told me that it was rural America, the America we love, with forests, lakes and tranquility,” Sarkozy said. “They have been coming for years, they rented a house, they invited us, period.”

Confrontation with photographers
Hours after meeting with reporters, Sarkozy lost his temper with two American news photographers covering his vacation, jumping onto their boat and scolding them loudly in French.

The confrontation came as Sarkozy and companions headed for open water in a boat on Lake Winnipesaukee when he spotted Associated Press photographer Jim Cole and freelancer Vince DeWitt aboard Cole’s boat.

A woman who did not identify herself spoke up in English and relayed Sarkozy’s request to be left alone. Earlier, Sarkozy had asked reporters to leave him “tranquilly” with his family after he answered questions, but the photographers had not heard the translation of his remarks.

After Cole and DeWitt promised to stop shooting photos for the day, Sarkozy calmed down, reboarded his boat, and continued out onto the lake with his party.

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