• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:01am
Wealth Blog
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 4:12pm

Which mistress is First Lady? French president must decide

The scandalous tale of French president Francois Hollande gets better with each parting day. If you haven’t been following it, this is a perfect French farce. The leading man is the country’s socialist president; an unprepossessing portly politician aged 59 with a bit of a turkey-wattle neck and sparse but suspiciously black hair. Then the stage gets a bit crowded.

Too many mistresses

His girlfriend – or is she his mistress, even though they are not married? – is glam Paris actress Julie Gayet, 41. With whom the man - who makes his predecessor, pocket-rocket Nicolas Sarkozy, look like a sex symbol - has allegedly been having an affair for ages.

Turbulent romance

In its latest revelations, French gossip magazine Closer said the French president had a second Paris apartment for assignations with his latest lady. “So he had the place, but how on earth did he find the time? According to Closer, the president and Gayet had been having a “turbulent romance” for two years – during and after his election campaign in 2012

Then there’s Valerie Trierweiler, 48, the leggy Paris Match book reviewer who thought she was First Lady and is only mistress, or girlfriend, depending on whether you describe his ex, the equally gorgeous mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, as his former common-law wife or girlfriend. It’s all very French.

Moped moments

Our boy has been snapped sneaking 150 metres down the road from home for rendezvous with Gayet. She is, or is not, four months pregnant, depending on which scandal rag you read and is suing Closer for 50,000 euros for breach of privacy. They have a lot to hide in Paris.

Still in hiding

She is staying quiet, for now anyway. Most French don’t care. Hollande is practically celibate as their politicians go. They just wish he would focus on the economy.

Someone else who’s keeping stum is Royal. She must be chuckling as she reflects that what goes around comes around. For it was her chum, the striking Trierweiler – for some reason I keep wanting call her Ms Rottweiler – who nicked Hollande from her. Presumably while her back was turned, mopping up after one of the four kids she had with the faithless rat. Forget the sisterhood; it’s every Gallic gal for herself. But Trierweiler should have remembered Sir Jimmy Goldsmith’s famous quip: “Mary your mistress and you create a vacancy.”

Fragrant dignity

Royal comes out of this smelling entirely of roses and no doubt has assumed an air of gracious dignity as her ex gets snagged in his own shagpile. Must be embarrassing for the kids, but then French children probably just roll their eyes in the playground and shrug that the big kids are fooling around again.

Meanwhile, back at the Elysse Palace – all hell broke loose a week ago when La Trierweiler learned she had been replaced. She then committed what she could later regret: a tactical error. She left the Elysee, where, having declared herself First Lady at the beginning of Hollande’s term, she had installed herself with an entourage of five staff and all the perks of power.

Medical seclusion

She then checked into Le Petite Salpetriere hospital, where Princess Diana died in 1997, reveals Le Point. This was after she reportedly popped "one pill too many" because the "cold and ruthless" Hollande wanted to dump her. And we hear he hasn’t even visited her, instead sending "chocolates and flowers". She doesn’t strike me as the chocolate scoffing type. The BBC quotes someone as saying doctors have advised him to stay away, no doubt to his relief. This must rank as one of most public fits of the vapours ever. “She took a pill too many,” one source told a Paris magazine. “However, she never wanted to attempt suicide.” Of course not, that would ruin her make-up.

Outsmarted

Mr Hollande had a plan, but was trumped. “Francois Hollande had a dream but it only lasted the weekend,” said one left-wing commentator. He had hoped, apparently, to get his official partner to sign a joint announcement of their separation last Saturday. Silly, silly boy. As dumper, did he really think the dumpee would go quietly?

Staying put

Now Trierweiler has ‘not the slightest intention of packing her bags’, with another respected magazine stating: ‘OK to forgive, but not OK to leave.’

Of course, possession is nine tenths of the law and no one is actually married here. If he moved quickly, Hollande could install his new love while Ms T remains holed up in hospital. But he probably won’t risk that. French activists are already so hacked-off with him that they have dumped truckloads of manure on his doorstep.

Keeping up appearences

Hollande can’t sit on the fence for long. He’s due to pay a house call to the Obamas in a few weeks. He told a hostile press conference on Tuesday he would make up his mind about who his First Lady is by February 11th.

This is the date he is due to meet US President Barack, and First Lady Michelle, Obama. But with one candidate in hospital and the other in hiding, it’s anyone’s guess. As my father would say: if you can’t choose between two lovers, pick a third. Who knows? There might even be another one waiting in the wings. Hollande is French, after all.

Anna.fenton@scmp.com

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