Nicolas Sarkozy, 52, has embraced the nickname of his critics, "Sarko the American," often plucking policy ideas from the United States, including a "zero tolerance" policy on crime like that of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
He grew up middle-class in Paris, the second of three sons of a French mother and an aristocratic Hungarian father who divorced when he was 3. His mother raised the boys with their grandfather, a Jewish-Greek doctor.
In 1983, at 28, Sarkozy pushed aside his political mentor, who was also best man at his wedding, to become mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, France's richest town per capita.
Five years later, he was elected to the National Assembly, and then was budget minister in the early to mid-1990s, under then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.
Sarkozy doesn't drink alcohol but has a passion for chocolate and orange juice. He jogs, collects stamps and suffers migraine headaches.
- Associated Press