At the beginning of Sarkozy's presidency, we were told that consulting firms were going to be used to evaluate the performance of ministers. All very efficient and businesslike. But things have degenerated, and now ministers are being required to request permission from the prime minister before vacationing abroad. What next? Hall passes to go to the bathroom?
It's also rather quaint to have to clear that time in the sun with the PM, who's in a bit of hot water himself over accepting handouts from dictators. And the president himself vacationed in Marrakech at the expense of the Moroccans. Does he need to ask for an exit pass as well?
Still, it might do France's elite good to stay home and see a little more of the provinces. You can have a lot of fun in France. Just ask any number of members of the Bush administration, who bashed France in public but vacationed there on the QT.
Pardon my pun, but I guess we can now call the prime minister la garde des seaux (et des pelles): "Boys and girls, before you can go the beach and play in the sand with your pails and shovels, check with François."