Emmanuel Macron has been criticised for spending the weekend before his 40th birthday at a chateau that belonged to King Francois I. The French president's birthday is not until Thursday but spent the weekend with his wife Brigitte, 64, and their extended family at the vast estate in the Loire Valley.

The vast 16th century Chambord chateau, which has 440 rooms, combines French and Renaissance features and is regarded as one of the finest in the world. It was opened to the public in 2007 and hosts around 700,000 visitors a year. Private guests can stay at one if its several four-star guest houses, which can be rented for €800 to €1,000 (£705-£882) per weekend.

Macron's decision to stay there prompted a barrage of criticism from opponents including left wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon who was quoted in Le Figaro complaining: "Why is he celebrating his birthday at Chambord? What a strange idea! I am so republican that everything about royal symbols exasperates me, I find it ridiculous."

Lionnel Luca, a politician in the opposition conservative Republicans party, simply tweeted: "Who is the king?"

A Green party senator Esther Benbassa pointed out that Macron's arrival at the chateau on Friday (15 December) came on the same day his government announced it would not raise the country's national minimum wage.

The Elysee Palace responded by saying Macron and his wife paid for the event using private funds and so is not funded by the taxpayer.

The public image of Macron - France's youngest head of state since Napoleon - continue's to recover after deep dips in the summer. A new poll shows his popularity has bounced back after dropping in the summer. According to a survey for the Journal de Dimanche newspaper, 52% of of respondents said they are satisfied with the job he is doing.

His approval rating had plummeted after pushing through controversial tax measures and new labour laws but the tide has since turned in his favour and his rating is up from 40% in August.