French first lady hospitalized after report of the President’s alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet

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

Chris Pizzello / The Associated Press File

Valerie Trierweiler was hospitalized Friday — 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 Monday.

François 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.

Bloggers, tweeters and other online sources have tapped into public curiosity and pushed the borders of French privacy. Closer last made a splash when it published topless photos of the former Kate Middleton, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, with her husband Prince William.

The magazine Closer published images Friday 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.

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

 

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% of those asked believed the liaison should be private. The poll was released before the hospitalization 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%, 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 1,025 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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