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Macron Has a Birthday at Loire Chateau; Critics Have Field Day

A picture taken June 12, 2017, shows the Chateau de Chambord (The Castle of Chambord) in Chambord, France. French President Emmanuel Macron will celebrate his 40th birthday on the grounds of the former royal palace.

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates his 40th birthday this weekend on the grounds of a former royal palace, in what some opponents called another tactless show of wealth.

Rivals have branded former investment banker Macron “president of the rich” for policies such as the scrapping of a wealth tax and cutting the housing benefit, moves the president framed as reforms to boost investment and social mobility.

Macron is staying with his wife, Brigitte, in a guesthouse close to the Chateau de Chambord, a former royal palace on the Loire that dates back to the 16th century.

His office denied media reports that the celebrations would take place inside the chateau and said the trip was being paid for by the couple.

Left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who ran against Macron in the presidential election this year, called the chateau stay “ridiculous” for its royal symbolism.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a right-wing politician who also ran for the presidency, said: “Times change but the oligarchy remains detached from the people.”

Macron’s weekend retreat came as several of his ministers were shown to be millionaires.

Cabinet of millionaires

Figures released Friday by a body charged with ensuring financial transparency in politics showed Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud had the largest personal fortune, around 7.5 million euros ($8.8 million).

Penicaud, at the forefront of Macron’s push to shake up the economy, has been criticized for a gain made on stock options when she was an executive at food giant Danone.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot declared personal wealth of more than 7 million euros and revealed he owned six cars. The former TV presenter and campaigner has called for France to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Career politicians in the government had smaller fortunes, with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s declaration showing 1.7 million euros, and Public Finances Minister Gerard Darmanin just 48,000 euros.