The 1,200 piece designer set, chosen by first lady Brigitte Macron, was ordered to change the shabby plates from the mid-20th century, according to the presidential Élysée Palace.
The order, which included 900 dinner plates and 300 side plates, was placed with the Manufacture de Sèvres, which has been known worldwide for its fancy porcelain for nearly 200 years. The leading French satiric outlet Le Canard enchaîné reported that the price tag for the set, designed by the artist Evariste Richer, is as much as 500,000 euros ($586,000), or 400 euros ($470) a plate.
Other reports suggest a more moderate sum of 200 euros ($235) a piece, while the chief of the factory, as the BBC reports, states that the price has not been decided. Besides, the presidential palace is not expected to foot the full bill, as the manufacturer is 60 percent subsidized by France’s culture ministry. According to the French magazine Le Point, the Élysée is to pay the designer’s bill.
Information concerning the palace's new crockery purchases came soon after a video depicting Macron discussing a tougher stance on social payments went viral.
In the clip, posted by his communication chief, Sibeth Ndiaye, on Twitter, the French president criticizes the current distribution of welfare benefits as he prepares his speech for an event in the city of Montpellier. There, he voiced the need to reform the system, stigmatizing recipients, and increase educational funding.
“We plough a shedload of cash into minimum welfare benefits and people are still poor. People who are born poor stay poor. We have to have something that enables people to get out of it,” he said in the video.
Le Président? Toujours exigeant. Pas encore satisfait du discours qu’il prononcera demain au congrès de la Mutualité, il nous précise donc le brief! Au boulot! pic.twitter.com/2mjy1JmOVv— Sibeth Ndiaye (@SibNdiaye) 12 июня 2018 г.
Macron’s verbal attack on social welfare angered his political opponents, who took their revolt to social media.
"Mr Macron, what costs 'shedload of cash' it's you and your presents to the ultra-rich," the head of the France Unbowed movement, Jean-Luc Melenchon, posted on Twitter.
Last year, Macron snapped the presidential post from the leader of the right-wing National Front, Marine Le Pen, with promises to turn the Fifth Republic into a more entrepreneurial country, tackling poverty with better education for the lower class. However, due to his investment banking background and attempts to overturn the benefit system, whose roots stretch to De Gaulle’s era, he was dubbed “the president of the rich.”
While the labor reform, introduced by Macron’s government, brought thousands of people to protest in France, his expenses in the president’s office have also come under scrutiny. So, after just three months in office, Macron has come under fire for spending around 26,000 euros ($30,000) for a personal make-up artist.