President François Hollande has visited France’s first lady for the first time since she was admitted to hospital late last week after a gossip magazine reported he was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.
An official at the presidential palace said yesterday that Mr Hollande visited Valerie Trierweiler on Thursday, as the French media reported she had taken “one pill too many” when the president confessed his affair.
The 48-year-old journalist was admitted a week ago to Paris’s Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital – a leading hospital but significantly not the one where major public figures get treatment – for rest. His office said she had experienced a “crisis of nerves” upon learning of the report in Closer magazine last week that the 59-year-old president has been having an affair with Gayet, 41.
A spokesman for Trierweiler, said on Thursday that her condition was improving and that until then only one person from her family – a son – had visited.
In its initial report on the matter, Closer published photos that it said showed Mr Hollande, wearing a motorcycle helmet with darkened visor going into an apartment near the presidential palace to meet Gayet. Gayet is suing the magazine, accusing it of invasion of privacy.
Closer said Gayet was seeking €50,000 (£41,000) in damages and €4,000 in legal costs over the magazine’s publication of photos of her and Mr Hollande arriving separately for trysts at a borrowed flat near the presidential Elysee Palace.
Earlier this week, the Italian-owned publication said it was on track to sell 600,000 copies of its edition with the Hollande/Gayet pictures, twice its usual circulation. The report dented a tradition in the French media of ignoring the private lives of public figures.
At a previously planned news conference on Tuesday, Mr Hollande acknowledged “painful moments” in his relationship with Trierweiler. He refused to go into any more detail, saying only that the question of who the first lady is would be clarified before he leaves next month for a state visit in the United States that she’d been expected to attend.
Europe-1 radio reported that Gayet told the station that rumours she is pregnant are untrue. Gayet has not spoken publicly about the matter and her agent and lawyer have declined to comment on her private life.
Meanwhile, a group of Mr Hollande’s advisers have urged him to become France’s first “bachelor president” in the wake of the revelations about his private life.
The political aides believe Mr Hollande should now lead France as a “single man”.
Opponents of the president, whose failure to turn around the French economy has already made him the most unpopular leader of modern-day France, have accused him of bringing the role of president into disrepute.
Weekly news magazine L’Express yesterday said: “The president has promised to clarify the state of his relationship before his visit to the US on 11 February.
“But already, some of those close to François Hollande, who has never been married, not even to the mother of his four children Segolene Royal, are advising him to become a bachelor president.
“One told him that this would represent ‘the modernisation of the role of the president’.”