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So who is France's first lady now?

THE PRESIDENT AND 'FIRST GIRLFRIEND': French President Hollande and his partner Trierweiler are not married, which has fuelled public speculation on the legitimacy of her status as first lady. PHOTO: AFP
So who is France's first lady now?

THE OTHER WOMAN? French actress Gayet is rumoured to be having an affair with Mr Hollande.


    Jan 13, 2014

    So who is France's first lady now?


    THERE is a twist to France's presidential affair - the first lady has not tied the knot with the President, who is rumoured to be seeing a French actress 18 years his junior.

    While many in France seem to have shrugged off President Francois Hollande's indiscretions, some have questioned the legitimacy of France's first lady, Ms Valerie Trierweiler.

    Mr Hollande, 59, officially lives with "first girlfriend" Trierweiler, a 48-year-old journalist for whom he left fellow Socialist politician Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children. But the couple never married, and her status is in doubt as rumours swirl about the President's new love.

    The future of Ms Trierweiler became a hot topic on French social media, with people asking why she should still be living in the Elysee Palace. Tweeters dubbed the "first lady of France" the "first cuckold of France".

    Reports last year about her luxurious lifestyle on public funds did not help.

    She has five staff working for her at her office, and enjoys numerous other taxpayer-funded perks, including homes across France, private jets and limousines, The Daily Mail reported.

    "Is it normal that she stays at the Elysee on taxpayers' money while the President has other relationships?" said Mr Daniel Fasquelle, a member of the National Assembly of France.

    He added: "So who is France's first lady now?"

    Another opposition MP, Mr Georges Fenech, asked if it was right for the President to use "bodyguards paid for with public funds" to arrange trysts with actress Julie Gayet, 41.

    French magazine Closer reported on Friday that the President routinely spends the night with Gayet.

    In a special edition detailing his alleged infidelity, Closer said: "It's a real passion that has...turned their lives upside down and makes them take insane risks."

    The seven-page spread contained photos of Gayet arriving at a flat in an upmarket part of Paris on Dec 30, not far from the Elysee Palace where Mr Hollande lives.

    Half-an-hour later, a man whom the magazine identified as Mr Hollande's bodyguard inspects the apartment block before the arrival of a scooter with two men on board, one of whom Closer claimed was Mr Hollande - although his face is fully concealed under a helmet.

    The bodyguard, however, does show his face and is identified as part of Mr Hollande's official security detail.

    The next morning, according to Closer, the bodyguard delivers croissants to the couple and, three hours later, a helmeted man is pictured mounting a scooter and riding pillion. Gayet later leaves the flat.

    Gayet is an established television and film actress, and also appeared in one of Mr Hollande's 2012 election-campaign commercials, describing the then presidential candidate as "marvellous" and "humble and a really good listener".

    Rumours the two were having an affair had until now stayed under the radar, with the mother of two - who is separated from her husband, Argentinian filmmaker Santiago Amigorena - filing a legal complaint in March over the speculation.

    Mr Hollande reacted furiously to the Closer report, but did not deny it.