France's most powerful female politician laments persistent sexism in politics but says things have come a long way since she was "ridiculed" in Parliament in the 1980s.

Segolene Royal, runner-up for the French presidency in 2007 and now environment minister, told The Associated Press Saturday that "sexism has receded," but that some remains "because power unconsciously is considered by certain men to be their property."

Royal shied away from offering advice to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, noting that Clinton already has "remarkable" political experience. She spoke to the AP before a trip to the U.S. next week.

Royal, former longtime partner of President Francois Hollande, shrugged off criticism of her increasingly visible role at presidential events ahead of a U.N. climate conference in Paris, noting her decades of political experience.