This way. No, rather over there… It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and Stéphane Layani guides Emmanuel Macron through the aisles of his kingdom, the largest fresh produce market in the world, over which he has reigned for more than ten years. Silver hair, tanned complexion, the boss of Rungis grabs the president by the arm, deflects his course, pushes him by the shoulders. Here they are between two rows of fresh carcasses, butchers are asking for a selfie. “You see, you are loved! »Layani laughs.
” It was great “, thanked the Head of State. For him, visits to the market of national interest in Rungis (Val-de-Marne) are among the coolest trips. It is marked out, gridded, invigorating. There, Emmanuel Macron is not only in the hands of an entrepreneur who feeds Paris and its region, but of a friend of more than twenty years, tactile, laughing, warm. “Yeah, he’s my buddy », confirms Stéphane Layani, son of Pieds-noirs with immediate familiarity and an easy embrace, as comfortable with a forklift operator as with a president.
The boss of the largest halls in the world is a friend in the shadow of Emmanuel Macron. Their proximity intrigues insiders: as soon as he took office, the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, inquired about “this man who seemed like an enigma”. Naturally prolific, Mr. Layani gently brushes aside questions when it comes to the head of state: “I don’t want any fuss. » He even managed – a feat – not to appear in any of the biographies devoted to the president.
This February 21, it was the fourth time that he received Emmanuel Macron, offering him a setting to defend his pension reform by addressing at dawn the ” common sense “ of the “French who work early”. Five days later, here he is again in the footsteps of the Head of State at the Agricultural Show. He also watches over the Choose France gala dinners in Versailles. Share each January the giant galette des rois cut by Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée. Returns every 1ers-May for a gastronomy festival – a “thousand-year-old tradition dating back to Charles IX, when the provost of the merchants carried the lily of the valley to the king”he recites greedily.
Their meeting dates back eighteen years, to the General Inspectorate of Finance. In 2005, Macron, 27, fresh out of ENA, was one of the juniors. Layani, on a one-year inspection mission, is 45 years old and already has a first life behind him.
This southerner was first a civil servant of the general direction of competition, consumption and the repression of fraud. But at 31, he no longer wants to be “the gentleman of economic control”. He changed course and joined the ENA. In the Léon Gambetta promotion, he meets Franck Robine, future chief of staff of François Fillon at Matignon, and Nicolas Revel, close to Emmanuel Macron and future director of the cabinet of Jean Castex. And still in the class of 1993, him, this son from a Jewish family in southern Algeria, falls madly in love with a young Corrézienne, Marie-Anne Barbat, whom he ends up marrying.
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