Nicolas Sarkozy's verbal "slip" when he referred to Alsace as Germany is evidence of the real thinking among France's political elite, says an expert on European politics and history.
Addressing a group of farmers he said he wasn't stressing the importance of farming "just because I am in Germany - er, because I am in Alsace."
Alsace has been considered part of France since the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 when it was removed from the Holy Roman Empire. However, it was annexed by the new German Reich at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
The fate of the province (and of Lorraine) became a central pillar of revanchisme - the desire for national revenge after that conflict. It was handed back after the First World War, but of course was overrun by Hitler in 1940 and given back again in 1945.
It is widely believed that Frenchmen everywhere are fierecly protective of Alsace, but the great secret among the political elite is that they'd rather be rid of the place.
Dr Ethan Diderot, of the Institute of French and German Spats, said: "They consider Alsace a bloody embarrassment, actually.
"The people speak with a kind of German dialect and all the placenames are German - Sarkozy was speaking in Truchtersheim, for example.
"Then there's the wine. It looks German, and it sounds German - gewutrztraminer, riesling and so on.
"Add to that the fact that if you come from there you're an Alsatian and therefore a dog (no matter what the German Shepherd brigade say) ... well the French elite are just mortified at the thought of the place and wish it was part of Germany.
"Of course the so-called derevanchistes have to keep quiet because of the popular image of a tough stance France wants to project over the Franco-German borders.
"But, I suspect if you were to dig deeper, people in Lyon or Marseille, for example, wouldn't give a monkey's."