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French Hollande changes plane after lightning strike

A presidential jet carrying newly inaugurated French President Francois Hollande was hit by lightning en route to Berlin and forced to turn back to Paris, but the Socialist was unharmed and took off again in another plane, according to a presidential source.

Hollande is expected to arrive with a delay of one and a half hours for his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Francois Hollande pays tribute to his predecessors

In his inauguration speech, France's new president Francois Hollande paid tribute to his predecessors.

He said: "France will respect all peoples, it will be faithful to its committment, that is to defend the freedom of people, the honour of the oppressed and the dignity of women.

"In this moment where I am assigned to preside our country's fate and to represent it throughout the world, I pay tribute to my predecessors, all those who have had the responsibility before me to direct the country.

French president Francois Hollande.
French president Francois Hollande. Credit: AP

"Charles de Gaulle, who put his prestige to the service of the greatness and the sovereignty of France. George Pompidou, who made the industry a national issue. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who reboosted the modernization of the French society.

"François Mitterand for whom I have a special thought today. He did so much for freedom and social progress.

"Jacques Chirac, who claimed his attachment to the values of this republic. Nicolas Sarkozy, to whom I address my best wishes for the life that is now ahead of him.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to serve a great cause, gathering, recovery and hope must be its conductor. Long live the republic and long live France."

Hollande greeted by fanfare after inauguration ceremony

Francois Hollande was greeted with a rendition of the French national anthem as he left the Elysee Palace in Paris, following his formal inauguration ceremony.

Mr Hollande is the first Socialist leader of France since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.

The 57-year-old was elected to a five-year term in an election earlier this month after voters rejected incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy after only one term.

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