Sarkozy described US President Obama was inexperienced and badly briefed on climate change, the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis RodrÍguez Zapatero wasn't very clever and German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not share his foresight about how to tackle the global financial crisis.
According to The Telegraph, Sarkozy said Obama was "not always up to standard on decision-making or efficiency", Jose Luis RodrÍguez Zapatero was 'perhaps not very intelligent' while Angela Merkel 'had no choice but to come round to my position' when she saw the state of German banks.
His comments were delivered during a meeting with a cross-party group of 24 French parliamentarians that was meant to remain private.
Liberation, the left-wing daily that published the account of the lunch, billed it as "a festival of me, myself and I" performed by the French president.
The remark about Mr Zapatero's brain power, reportedly delivered over dessert, was denied by the Elysee. The others were not.
While Madrid has not officially responded to the slight, Spanish newspaper have reacted with incredulity.