French president Francois Hollande splits with Valerie Trierweiler after affair

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 8:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 10:12am

French leader Francois Hollande began a new chapter in his presidency yesterday after splitting from his partner of eight years following an affair with a younger actress.

Under intense media scrutiny since the revelation of the affair two weeks ago, Hollande - who had promised a "normal" presidency after the turbulent stint of his "bling bling" predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy - formally announced his split from Valerie Trierweiler on Saturday.

Saying he was speaking as a private individual, Hollande, in a statement to AFP over the phone, said: "I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler."

"A Bachelor at the Elysee," said the Journal du Dimanche weekly, calling her departure as first lady "the end of an epoch".

Trierweiler, 48, had been convalescing at a presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital a week earlier, where she was treated for what was described as fatigue brought on by press revelations of Hollande's affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.

According to media reports, Trierweiler had been ready to forgive Hollande, but the president wanted to pull the plug.

Trierweiler left for Mumbai yesterday on a charity trip in her first public appearance since the scandal broke. Her entourage said she was accompanied by a presidential bodyguard. A friend who is accompanying Trierweiler, Charlotte Valandrey, said the former first lady was "strong", "feeling better" and was "delighted" to be going on the trip.

But 59-year-old Hollande came under fire from opponents for cheating in his personal life.

"Valerie, the new Diana," tweeted Roselyne Bachelot, a minister under Sarkozy.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the far-right National Front party, said: "Perfect president? Not in private life: four children outside marriage and a mistress who is not divorced and to whom he could not remain faithful!"

And many on a march through Paris in a "Day of Anger" against Hollande's policies, including his decision to legalise gay marriage, complained about his tangled love life.

"There are enough scandals about the president. He is bringing dishonour to France," a 60-year-old woman said.

The Journal du Dimanche quoted Hollande as telling people close to him that "women have cost me dearly", referring to his splits with Trierweiler and her predecessor, Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children.

Sources said the couple worked out the terms of their split at a lunch on Thursday. The weekly said Trierweiler would keep the Paris apartment the couple shared in the middle-class 15th district and also receive "financial compensation".

After Hollande's announcement, Trierweiler tweeted: "I extend my gratitude to the fantastic Elysee staff. I will never forget their dedication."