September 14, 2018 / 11:50 AM / 10 days ago

Macron mugs: France's Elysee Palace moves into memorabilia

PARIS (Reuters) - Royal mugs are a time-honored tradition in Britain, while the White House has sold memorabilia for decades. Now France is getting in on the act, with the Elysee Palace offering presidential mugs and key rings for sale for the first time.

French President Emmanuel Macron walks back to his office at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The foray into trinket-selling was authorized by President Emmanuel Macron, whose portrait adorns a poster costing 9.90 euros ($11.60), one of a host of items on offer to collectors, Macron fans, tourists and anyone else short of gift ideas.

The online boutique (boutique.elysee.fr) includes t-shirts, watches, notebooks, bags and pens, some with prices that might make buyers pause: a blue t-shirt with the word 'president' embroidered on the breast costs 55 euros.

The decision to exploit the presidential brand commercially was taken months ago but the actual launch comes at a time when the 40-year-old leader’s approval rating has skidded to as low as 23 percent, below that of his predecessors at similar points in their mandates.

It is not clear whether his portrait on posters and mugs will be positively received by voters; many of his critics accuse him of catering excessively to the rich and ruling with a top-down style more fitting of monarchs.

France has traditionally taken a reserved approach to retail and marketing around the president, with Macron saying after his election that he intended to reestablish the high status of the office.

Some of the items on offer are very much for everyday use, including a key ring with a little red, white and blue etiquette (29 euros), a Macron portrait mug (24.90 euros) and a cloth shopping bag with ELYSEE emblazoned on the side (15 euros).

The highest-priced items are 14k gold-filled bracelets with a choice of “liberte”, “egalite” or “fraternite” spelled out on them, the words of the national motto. They cost 250 euros.

All the items are made in France, according to the website, with part of profits from the sale to be used to help fund the maintenance of the 300-year-old Elysee Palace.

As well as traditional souvenirs like memorial coins and flags, France would not be France without a typically French food item being offered, one that plays off Macron’s name.

For 19.50 euros, the peckish can pick up a box of seven red, white and blue macarons, the sweet meringue-based treats that bakers have turned into a mini-delicacy.

Writing By Brian Love; Editing by Luke Baker and Raissa Kasolowsky

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