Reported in the Washington Post:
France aghast at the 'vulgar' habit enjoyed by its president
On the primary state television channel, France 2, Alain Finkielkraut, a leading French intellectual, recently demanded that Sarkozy give up his "undignified" exercise [running]. Not only did he imply that exposing the boss's naked knees is something that never would have occurred in the time of Mitterrand, much less Louis XIV, Finkielkraut claimed strolling is the proper activity of the thinking person, from Socrates to the poet Arthur Rimbaud.
"Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade," said Finkielkraut. "Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation."
Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London. "Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness," Bremner writes.