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But with all the high-profile encounters, Bruni says, "It's nice to leave public life. It's nice to leave actually the stress of the weight and the responsibilities."
Of course, Bruni is still a very public figure. Promoting her album this week, she appeared at a private party at the tony Royalton Hotel, singing three of her songs, including "Chez Keith et Anita," a song about hanging out in the '70s with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg. In Paris, glamour shots of the former first lady are appearing on billboards. In December, remarks she made to French Vogue appearing to dismiss feminism sparked a Twitter uproar.
But Bruni says she craves a quiet, private existence.
"I'm not a very outside person," she says. "Even at 15, I was never a party girl. My favorite things to do are to play music, read, watch films, write, and cook — and those are all things you do at home. I don't know, maybe it's my astrological sign?" She laughs. "I'm a Capricorn. I don't know. I just said that to sound silly."
For now, Bruni seems pleased with the life she leads, and confident that the public will see her for what she is.
"I like that there's something double about the inside life and the outside life," she says. "I've been in the media since I'm 20 years old ... I feel there's this girl called Carla Bruni who's not at all exactly like me. But I do believe that the real person comes out. I believe that people see the truth."