Paris (AFP) - Addressing malicious online comments and gossiping among journalists, French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has made fun of rumours that he is gay.
Macron's candid comments that he was neither cheating on his wife nor having a gay affair with a media boss appeared to be an attempt to put an end to speculation about his private life.
The 39-year-old independent is married to his high school teacher Brigitte Trogneux who is 24 years older than him -- an unconventional relationship often featured in the country's celebrity and lifestyle magazines.
"Those who want to spread the idea that I am a fake, that I have hidden lives or something else, first of all, it's unpleasant for Brigitte," Macron told supporters late on Monday.
"She shares my whole life from morning till night and she wonders on a basic level how I could physically do anything!" he joked.
Speaking at a meeting in Paris, he also drew laughter by referring to speculation that he was in a relationship with the head of state-run Radio France.
"If over dinners in the city, if on forwarded emails, you're told that I have a double life with Mathieu Gallet or anyone else, it's my hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can't be me!" he said.
Macron is riding high in the polls and is seen as a serious contender to be France's next leader after an expenses scandal hit his right-wing rival Francois Fillon.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is also battling to win the two-stage election in April and May.
In November, Macron made his first public reference to rumours about his sexuality during a little-publicised interview with online investigative website Mediapart.
"I don't have a double life and I'm attached more than anything else to my family and married life," he said at the time.
He has opened up his relationship to the media, inviting journalists from magazine Paris Match to photograph him and his wife on several occasions.
A documentary aired last year also showed Brigitte, a mother of three adult children who divorced her husband to marry Macron in 2007, as a regular fixture during campaign events.