Former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy says she thinks her unmarried successor, Valerie Trierweiler, should get hitched to be taken more seriously.

In her first interview since Nicolas Sarkozy lost France's presidential elections six months ago, the former supermodel dished out some friendly advice to Trierweiler, telling the French edition of Elle Magazine: "I think it is simpler to be the legitimate wife of the head of state rather than being his partner."

She added, "For my part I felt a real easing of the general concern about me when I married Nicolas."

Bruni-Sarkozy also suggested that Trierweiler, who has drawn criticism for continuing her work as a journalist, would find it easier if she ditched her career.

President Francois Hollande has never married.