French first lady hospitalised after affair report

LORI HINNANT
Last updated 09:14 13/01/2014
French President Francois Hollande and first lady Valerie Trierweiler
Reuters
AFFAIR CLAIM: French President Francois Hollande and first lady Valerie Trierweiler who has reportedly been admitted to hospital after reports of an affair between Hollande and an actress.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Julie Gayet has reportedly been seeing Francois Hollande.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Julie Gayet has reportedly been seeing Francois Hollande.

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The woman considered France's first lady was hospitalised after a report the president is having an affair with an actress, her office has revealed, as a poll was released showing the French shrugging off any liaison as none of their business.

Valerie Trierweiler was hospitalised Saturday - the day the magazine report and photo spread came out - for "rest and a few tests," said her chief of staff, Patrice Biancone. He said she was expected to leave tonight (NZ time).

Francois Hollande has never married but has had longtime relationships with Trierweiler and before her with French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal, with whom he has four children. Rumours have circulated for months that he might have another lover.

French media face strict privacy laws, but in recent years have chipped away at the tradition of ignoring the private lives of public figures.

The magazine Closer published images showing a bodyguard and a helmeted man it said was Hollande visiting Julie Gayet, 41, a moderately known French actress who appeared in a clip for his 2012 presidential campaign.

Hollande's popularity is already at historic lows over his failure to improve the economy, but a poll released over the weekend indicated the latest developments left the majority of French untroubled.

According to the Ifop poll for the weekly Journal du dimanche, 77 per cent of those asked believed the liaison should be private. The poll was released before the hospitalisation of Trierweiler was made public.

Hollande himself would agree, saying in a statement that he was weighing possible legal action for "the attacks on respect for privacy, to which each citizen has a right".

For a president whose approval ratings hover around 25 per cent, however, the weekend survey had less good news. More than 8 in 10 said their opinion of him had not changed.

The telephone poll of 1025 adults was conducted on Friday and Saturday. No margin of error was given in Sunday's publication of its results, but such polls often have one of about 3 percentage points.

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- AP

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