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Francois Hollande Takes Charge: PHOTOS From Elysee Palace

Francois Hollande is France’s new president.

He got the nuclear codes from Nicolas Sarkozy today at the Elysee Palace in Paris, followed by a brief departure ceremony for Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni.

The peaceful handover of power in a democracy always makes your heart swell a little bit. It beats a military coup, at any rate.

Let’s go to the photos.

A photo of the courtyard at Elysee Palace, with soldiers lined up by a red carpet

The setting: the courtyard at Elysee Palace.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, in business suits, shake hands between formal guards on a red carpeted stairway

After the formal handover: Nicholas Sarkozy greets Francois Hollande.

Photo of Nicholas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, obviously shaking hands for the cameras in a frozen pose

A grip-and-grin for the gathered photographers.

A photo of Francois Hollande on the stair, shaking hands with the beautiful former First Lady

Pleasantries are exchanged. Carla Bruni, the outgoing First Lady, rocks a pantsuit.

All four stand at the top of the stairs, as Sarkozy shakes hands with Valerie Trierweiler

Sarkozy returns the favor, shaking hands with incoming First Lady Valerie Trierweiler. She and Hollande are not married — the first time that France has had a First Companion. (Not counting Francois Mitterand’s mistress.)

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni walk hand-in-hand down red carpeted stairs

Time’s up.  Hand in hand, Sarkozy and Bruni take their leave.

At the end of a long red carpet, Sarkozy and Bruni get into a black Peugeot limousine

One last salute from the soldiers…

Waving through car windows as they depart

…a last wave to friends…

The car bearing Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni disappears through a gate and into crowds outside

…and out into the gathered crowds.

Valerie Trierweiler takes a look back.

Francois Hollande smiles and raises his hands on the red carpet as if to say

And the Francois Hollande administration is underway.

See more photos of Francois Hollande »

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