TIME World

5 Surprising Things About Paris’ First Female Mayor, Anne Hidalgo

Paris Socialist Mayoral Candidate Anne Hidalgo Celebrates Her Victory In Paris
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 30: Newly elected Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo celebrates the victory at City Hall plaza on March 30, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) Jean Catuffe—Getty Images

Meet Madame la Maire

“I am the first woman mayor of Paris. I am aware of the challenge.”

Anne Hidalgo doesn’t need to mince words. After 13 years as a deputy mayor under outgoing incumbent Bertrand Delanoë, the 54-year-old Socialist candidate is ready to lead. Nor was her win ambiguous, Hidalgo got nearly 55% of the vote. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this year’s race was that even if Hidalgo hadn’t won, Paris still would have had a female mayor. The socialist’s rival was Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.

But gender isn’t the only interesting thing about the new mayor of Paris:

1) She’s not from France. Hidalgo hails from the Spanish province of Cádiz, which is famous for being the only town that didn’t surrender to the French during Napoleon’s attempted occupation in 1810. She moved with her family to Lyon as a toddler, eventually adopting the name of Anne at 14 after becoming a French citizen. Her humble — and more importantly, non native — origins were used by the opposition during a campaign that often focused on the differences in class between the two main candidates, according to the AFP.

2) She’s all about the environment. Hidalgo is closely connected to Vélib, the bike sharing program her predecessor launched in 2007. Her campaign promises included mentions of starting Scooterlib’, a free moped system and expanding Autolib’, a recently launched electric car sharing service. She’s also advocated for more pedestrian walkways and green spaces.

3) She’s really, really against Scientology. In 2005, Hidalgo served as the head of a committee that monitored what the government calls “cultlike groups” groups, including, in this case, the Church of Scientology. She even participated in a protest at the Paris’ offices of the organization.

4) Her wardrobe won’t be in the spotlight. In early March, Hidalgo talked to Vogue about Paris’ role in supporting the fashion industry and young designers. She spoke about her own relationship with style, including memories of her mother, who was a dressmaker. The stylish Parisian, who clearly understands how what a female politician wears affects their public perception, described her aesthetic to WWD: “I am an elected official, not a model. I like a subdued style, not bling-bling.” (She was perhaps hoping to contract with the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy who was nicknamed by critics as president “bling bling” because of his showy lifestyle and ex-fashion model wife.)

5) She doesn’t have much company among mayors: Hidalgo joined the ranks of just a few women who serve as mayors of major cities, including Ana Botella of Madrid and Patricia de Lille of Cape Town, and Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of Warsaw. (But as revolutionary as Hidalgo’s election is, it doesn’t put France is ahead of the game in terms of female politicians in general. In fact, the two leading French political parties often pay penalties rather than field an equal number of female candidates, according to The Guardian.)

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