Hollande sauce: From left, the actress Julie Gayet, President Francois Hollande and his erstwhile partner Valerie Trierweiler. *Creative commons photos, montage by Gary Foster Skelton
Hollande sauce: From left, the actress Julie Gayet, President Francois Hollande and his erstwhile partner Valerie Trierweiler. *Creative commons photos, montage by Gary Foster Skelton

It’s been a gripping saga that has captivated the whole of France and many other parts of the world for the past two weeks.

And it seemed to conclude — at least for now — with French President Francois Hollande confirming this weekend that he has separated from his partner Valerie Trierweiler.

The break-up of France’s ‘first couple’ followed newspaper reports that the President had an affair with actress Julie Gayet. Here, Simon Jones draws from BBC reports to provide a breakdown of the break-up.



When did it all begin?

Two weeks ago, the magazine Closer published photos that appeared to show Mr Hollande had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet. Closer published a seven-page report on the alleged affair.
Photos showed 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. 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.


Who are the key players?

The President: Francois Hollande is France’s head of state. He has never married and left his previous partner and mother of his own four children — fellow Socialist politician Segolene Royal — to be with Ms Trierweiler.

The partner: Ms Trierweiler is a journalist for the glossy magazine Paris-Match.

She is a divorcee and mother of three children from an earlier marriage.

The actress: Julie Gayet has starred in numerous French films and has two children from her first marriage to Santiago Amigorena, a screenwriter and director from Argentina.


What was the impact of the initial reports of the affair?

Ms Trierweiler spent a week in hospital after the revelations. She has since been discharged and has since travelled to India in support of the work of the French charity Action Against Hunger.

Mr Hollande, who has never denied having an affair with Julie Gayet, had admitted to a “difficult moment” in his relationship with Ms Trierweiler.

Ms Guyet launched legal proceedings against the magazine that first reported the alleged affair, for breach of privacy.


What’s the latest?

This weekend President Hollande confirmed his separation from Ms Trierweiler. He told the AFP news agency that their “shared life” had ended. 

On Saturday evening, Ms Trierweiler tweeted her thanks to the “wonderful staff” at the Elysee Palace. She said she “would never forget their devotion or the emotion at the time of departure”.


What is the bigger picture?

The French media face strict privacy laws but the tradition of secrecy surrounding the private lives of public figures has been steadily eroded in recent years. However, opinion polls suggest the French public appears to be averse to the reporting politicians’ private lives.

Closer’s story about the President sets a new benchmark for French journalism and it remains to be seen whether it opens the floodgates for more articles on the private lives of public figures, which have become common in the UK and the US.

Source: BBC