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Hollande takes the train for holidays

President stocks up on DVDs from Fnac ahead of four-hour journey to presidential residence in Var

PRESIDENT Hollande is keeping up his "normal" image by taking the TGV to his holiday retreat in the Var - and stopping to buy some DVDs in Fnac beforehand to help pass the journey time.

Hollande and partner Valérie Trierweiler are spending a fortnight at the presidential residence in Brégançon and took a (first-class) train journey from Paris to Hyères yesterday.

The journey was announced to the media in advance, with cameras and reporters turning out to film Hollande at either end of his journey.

It is the third time that he has travelled by train since becoming president, in an attempt to distance himself from the "bling bling" image of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

However, having a president travelling by train is a costly security exercise for the SNCF, which is required by law to have a police guard on every bridge that crosses the rail line.

Hollande told reporters that taking the train was "an important gesture" at a time when "a lot of French people want to go on holiday but cannot do so".

He said he intended to "rest" - after spending almost a year on the presidential campaign trail - although he would remain "alert" to any developments that might need his intervention.

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