Hollande and Julie Gayet 'affair going for two years'

BBC's Chris Morris hears the views of residents in Tulle where the president forged his political career

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The French gossip magazine Closer has published claims President Francois Hollande has been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet for two years.

It also printed more details of the alleged romance, which it says began during the 2012 presidential race.

Ms Gayet has announced she is suing Closer for breach of privacy.

Mr Hollande's official partner, Valerie Trierweiler, remains in hospital, where she was admitted after learning of the alleged affair a week ago.

'Turbulent romance'


It is certainly true that the French public are more tolerant of the president's indiscretions than the English speaking world, but it's fanciful to suggest they are not as interested. Of course they are. Closer magazine sold out in a morning when it broke this story. It printed 150,000 extra copies which sold in equally quick time.

And whatever French people admit when they are questioned by pollsters, the public are lapping it up. Today the papers have more to fill their column inches.

Speculation this affair was on-going when Hollande was running for high office. The French politician Rachida Dati says people "don't want their politicians opening their bedroom or toilet doors". Maybe. But there are genuine areas for concern.

The president's judgement, his security, his agenda at a time of crisis, perhaps even his hypocrisy? Is this still the "exemplary presidency" he promised?

In its latest revelations, Closer said the French president used a second apartment in the west of Paris to meet the 41-year-old actress.

It is claimed the pair snatched weekends together in the south of France, and that Mr Hollande made excuses to avoid a holiday in Greece last year with Ms Trierweiler, so he could travel instead to his Correze constituency with Ms Gayet.

The magazine said the president and Ms Gayet had been having a "turbulent romance" for two years - during and after Mr Hollande's election campaign.

The magazine did not publish any further photos despite earlier reports that it would.

Ms Gayet is seeking 50,000 euros (£41,000; $68,000) in damages and 4,000 euros in legal costs from the magazine.

If she wins, Closer will have to publish the legal verdict on its cover page, AFP reports.

Mr Hollande decided not to take legal action after first threatening to.

Flowers and chocolates

Ms Trierweiler - seemingly still keen to defend Mr Hollande's character - is said to have defended him following reports he had not visited her in hospital.

She phoned a journalist on Thursday to explain it was her doctors who had asked Mr Hollande not to attend, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris.

Timeline: Hollande's partners

  • 1988: Francois Hollande meets Valerie Trierweiler, she a journalist, he a Socialist Party MP with a steady partner, Segolene Royal
  • Family years: Trierweiler raises three children with second husband, while Hollande raises four with his unmarried partner, Royal
  • November 2007: Trierweiler announces she is Hollande's new partner, six months after he leaves Royal, who has just been defeated as th e Socialist presidential candidate
  • Early 2012: Hollande allegedly begins affair with actress Julie Gayet, who has two children from her first marriage to Santiago Amigorena
  • May 2012: Trierweiler, still officially Hollande's unmarried partner, becomes first lady of France after his victory in the presidential election
  • June 2013: Trierweiler wins damages of 10,000 euros (£8,300: $13,675) from authors of The Troublemaker, a book that made allegations about her private life before Hollande's election
  • January 2014: Trierweiler is admitted to hospital after Closer publishes a report on Hollande's alleged affair with Gayet, accompanied by photos

She said she is still too weak to stand - and that the president has sent flowers and chocolates in his absence, our correspondent adds.

In response to the reports, a source at the Elysee Palace said Mr Hollande was "not unhappy" about the hospital forbidding him to visit.

Meanwhile, French magazine Le Point has quoted a friend of Ms Trierweiler saying she had not tried to commit suicide but had taken "one pill too many".

Mr Hollande, 59, told reporters on Tuesday he was experiencing a "difficult moment" in his private life but refused to answer questions over the report in Closer, saying "private matters should be dealt with privately".

Nor would he clarify whether Ms Trierweiler, 48, was still first lady before a February trip to the US.

Closer published a seven-page report on the alleged affair, which Mr Hollande has not denied, last Friday.

Photos show a man in a crash helmet on a moped, said to be Mr Hollande, visiting an apartment building near the Elysee Palace. Ms Gayet is shown at the building in a separate photo.

Public reaction to the alleged affair has been generally muted in France.

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