François Hollande, Closer magazine claims, owns just one pair of shoes. I’ve no good reason to doubt the truth: the French rag’s staff have enough riveting information about the President’s private life to be getting on with, so why would they make up this sartorial detail?

But it still surprises me. Not the surprise of the Spectator columnist who wondered why a powerful man lacks a decent range of quality footwear, though. No, I’m scratching my head because surely everyone needs a different shoe for a different function, whether he’s the President of France or a Parisian croissant-delivery boy?

I’m assuming Mr Hollande’s shoes are smart ones for wearing with his dark blue suit. I think I would have noticed if he walked into his post-disclosure press conference in white tennis shoes.

So, what does he wear on his feet when he’s taking time off from the cares of high office, strolling along a Brittany beach in shorts and T-shirt? What keeps the presidential ankles supported when he hikes up an Auvergne volcano? What does he slip into when, enveloped in a woollen dressing-gown, he wanders downstairs for a bedtime chocolat chaud?

Yes – trainers, walking boots, slippers, light deck shoes, or variants on these are the essentials of a full, active, comfortable life.

The only item of footwear that a self-respecting, historically aware Frenchman might want to do without is the Wellington Boot.

a shoe