Francois Hollande told Valerie Trierweiler during hospital visit: 'I need more time'
French press reports President likely to choose actress Julie Gayet and ask First Lady to leave Elysee Palace
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Sunday 19 January 2014
President François Hollande has told his First Lady, Valérie Trierweiler that he needs more “time” before deciding whether to end their relationship, according to Paris Match.
The magazine – where Ms Trierweiler is employed as a journalist – has a long insider’s account on its website today of the First Lady’s eight-day hospital stay following the exposure of Mr Hollande’s love affair with the actress Julie Gayet.
During a half-hour visit to her bedside on Thursday night, Paris Match said, President Hollande told his partner that he “needed time” to decide between her and Ms Gayet.
In the Journal du Dimanche today, sources for the President said that the relationship is “over” and that Ms Trierweiler will eventually be asked to leave the Elysée Palace.
Ms Trierweiler left the La Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris on Saturday afternoon and is now “resting” at the Pavillon de la Lanterne, the French equivalent of Chequers near the Palace of Versailles.
French press said that Mr Hollande's affair with Julie Gayet started more than two years ago In a tweet after leaving hospital – her first public comment since the scandal broke – Ms Trierweiler, 48, said: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who have sent messages of support wishing me a speedy recovery via Twitter, text and mail. Very touched.”
Paris Match gives a much lengthier assessment of Ms Trierweiler’s state of mind – evidently based on conversations between the First Lady and her colleagues at the magazine. The strong implication is that she knows her relationship with Mr Hollande is finished.
“She needs time, years, to absorb the most violent shock of her life – the cheating of the man who was her partner for eight years,” Paris Match said. “The worst was to discover in the press that the affair with Julie Gayet started before the election (in May 2012).
“Stricken, humiliated, she finds herself torn between her immense distress and her impetuousness, between questions about her future and her anger. Today Valérie Trierweiler is perhaps at the end of a journey.
“She found herself projected into the centre of power. She learned… she suffered. She now needs a space in which slowly to find her feet.”
President Hollande spent the weekend in Corrèze in south-west France, where he used to be the mayor. Trailed by foreign and French television crews, he ignored shouted questions about the scandal and the future of the First Lady.
At his press conference last Tuesday, President Hollande said that he would make a statement on his relationship with Ms Trierweiler before the couple leave Paris on 9 February for a visit to the White House. The French press says that it is now likely that Mr Hollande will make the journey alone.
At their half-hour meeting in the hospital on Thursday night – calm but not warm according to Match – it was decided that Ms Trierweiler would move to La Lanterne to await Mr Hollande’s decision. The mansion, traditionally used by the prime minister but hijacked for the presidency by Nicolas Sarkozy, is on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.
Directly opposite, on the other side of the celebrated gardens, is Le Petit Trianon, the miniature palace occupied by Marie Antoinette in the late 18th century.
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