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Jackie Kennedy Onassis' French loves and hates

 Jacqueline Onassis - Paris Match Magazine [France] (9 May 1996)  Mona Lisa in Camelot: How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci's Mast... Cover Art

Recently released tape recordings made by Jackie Kennedy in the 1960's  revealed personal views of the icon including French references.

Jackie O was born Jacqueline Lee Bouviere as her father descended from French ancestors. She  studied at the Sorbonne at the age of 20 and among her preferred pursuits were French history, art and literature. Being able to speak French fluently, she impressed the French greatly on her first visit to France with her US President husband in 1961. They were so taken with her that Kennedy joked in a speech while there, "I do not think it altogether inappropriate to introduce myself to this audience. I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris — and I have enjoyed it!"

Despite the accolades and her French background, in her recently released tapes, she referred to French president Charles de Gaulle, whom she famously charmed on her visit to Paris, as 'that egomaniac' and 'that spiteful man'. She also said "I loathe the French... They are not very nice, they are all for themselves."

In her tapes she shows must disdain for many people and what might be seen as contempt for those lesser classes who failed to see the importance of such aesthetic pursuits. One journalist from Ireland, another country she criticised, when commenting on the tapes said she has a 'French-influenced disdain for the unwashed who failed to see the greatness in idle intellectual pursuit and vanity' while 'every obscure French or foreign intellectual, painter, artiste is treated as the greatest genius on earth'.  He also goes on to say 'why she even complains about Irish stew being made in the White House kitchen and she wants to replace it with proper French cuisine'.

She did in fact engage a French chef to work in the White House, Rene Verdon who as it turns out was born in the village we have our house, Pouzauges. His family owned a bakery and pastry shop in the village. Rene left the White House soon after Jackie when he was asked to use frozen and canned vegetables during the Texan Lyndon Johnson's presidency. 


As a fashion icon, she was often reported as spending a lot of money on clothes. In response to a newspaper report that she spend $30,000 a year buying Paris clothes and that women hated her for it, she replied 'I couldn’t spend that much unless I wore sable underwear'.

Jackie Kennedy executed a diplomatic coup in 1962, when she convinced the smitten French culture minister to send the Mona Lisa on a perilous journey to the United States, the first time the French had let it out of the country (it has only been released on one other occasion since). The minister—novelist André Malraux, one of the first lady's favourite writers—went straight to president Charles de Gaulle to arrange for the painting to be released for four months to be shown in New York and Washington. There was a book written on the event 'Mona Lisa in Camelot. How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci's Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation'.

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