The French have a reputation for taking extra-marital affairs in stride ,but First Lady Valerie Treilweiler has been hospitalized after rumors of her husband’s liaison with a young actress. A mention that certainly is far from sang-froid about the alleged affair. Francois Hollande has denied that he is secretly sleeping with Julie Gayet and on Friday, threatened to sue Closer magazine, which broke the story. The lawsuit threatened against the magazine is based on a breach of privacy.
Closer magazine is the same publication that published the topless photographs of Kate Middleton. In this instance they went to print with a photo spread over seven glossy pages showing a women who looks a lot like Julie Gayet, entering an apartment close to the presidential place on the Elysee. She is seen being followed by a man in a motorcycle helmet, rumored to be the president in disguise. The man in the helmet was riding pillion, with a bodyguard up front. He goes into the flat. The bodyguard returns the flowing morning with a bag of croissants.
Julie Gayet, 41, is not well-known outside of her native country, but in France she is a big star. She has appeared in many films, the most recent on being Quai d’Orsay where she takes on the part of a diplomat in the foreign ministry. She has two children. This is not the first time the rumors about her being the president’s mistress have surfaced. When they appeared on the internet in March of last year, she went to the Paris prosecutor to file a complaint.
Valerie Trierweiler,48, is not married to Francois Hollande,59, but they have been together for several years now. Trierweiler is a journalist on the French magazine Paris Match. As reported in Le Parisien, she was taken to hospital on Friday and is expected to be discharged Monday, after having had a chance to rest and recover from the shock of the revelation. Her spokesperson, Patrice Biancone, said that she had made no decisions about her future. The couple is due to make a state visit to America in February with a state dinner with the Obamas among their scheduled appointments. This is in the diaries for February 11.
Hollande has refused to comment and so has his former partner, Segolene Royal, with whom he had four children. She said that the people of France had more important things to worry about. This is more in keeping with the assumed typical attitude of the French, who are said to turn a blind eye to romantic indiscretions, citing “C’est la vie” and other such well-worn phrases. Typically, they are incredulous when other nations jump up and down with moral indignation when a leader in exposed in bedroom antics.
If anything, it seems the electorate are surprised and even impressed that their doughty leader, hitherto not seem as a Casanova, has landed up in a potential sex scandal. Another candidate for his current position, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was extremely notorious for his complete inability to keep his trousers on. Hollande is increasingly unpopular as he struggles to make any effective impression on economic growth – croissance – and people are wondering how he is finding time for sex and croissants. A recent report in The Economist claimed France was now doing more badly than Greece, which is really saying something.
However, a poll in Le Journal de Dimanche found that 77 percent of the French population are unperturbed by the affair allegations. They are no doubt more interested in what the President will have to say when he makes his major news conference, already scheduled, in a few days time, about his plans to breathe new life back into the economy.
Valerie Trierweiler, described by her own magazine, as the “world’s sexiest journalist” is the wronged party here and the one who is clearly distraught. Although not married, she enjoys all the privileges that go with being First Lady and is officially described as the presidential “companion.” She has a lot at stake and a lot to lose. Small wonder she is far from sang-froid about these rumors.
By Kate Henderson