Hunt is on for phantom photographer who snapped Francois Hollande with his girlfriend Julie Gayet inside Elysee Palace gardens

Investigators have dismissed the possibility he picture was taken by a paparazzo with a long lens - or by a tiny drone

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The Independent Online

A mole hunt is underway at the Elysée Palace – for a mole with sharp eyes and a camera – after a glossy magazine published an “insider” picture of President François Hollande chatting to his actress girlfriend, Julie Gayet.

The image, the first of the couple together, shows them chatting at a table in a secluded part of the gardens of the presidential palace one Sunday this autumn.

Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the picture was taken by a paparazzo with a long lens from outside the Elysée grounds.

They have also examined, and rejected, the possibility that the photograph was taken by a tiny drone.

The angle of the image, which was published by the gossip magazine Voiçi, suggests that it may have been taken from the President’s own private apartments in the east wing of the building. Only 12 people work there. All are being questioned by police and security officials, according to the newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche.

There is nothing especially remarkable about the photograph, except as a piece of evidence in a media war between French glossy magazines. Some have insisted in recent weeks that the romantic friendship between Mr Holland and Ms Gayet, 42, is over. Others insist it is still going on. The revelation of Mr Hollande’s affair with Ms Gayet by images published in Closer magazine last January caused the break-up of the unmarried partnership between the President and his First Lady, Valérie Trierweiler.


Ms Trierweiler is in London this week to promote the English-language version of her explosive book Merci pour ce moment (Thank You For This Moment). In BBC interviews for The Andrew Marr Show and Newsnight, Ms Trierweiler insisted that the book was not a revenge attack on Mr Hollande but an honest account of the ups and downs of any love affair.

“For me writing is a form of therapy. I started writing it when I wasn’t feeling terribly well and that was a good reason for writing it,” she said.

“It’s not a personal attack on Hollande at all, it is the story of our relationship, there are good moments and bad moments I describe in it.”

Ms Trierweiller stood by her allegation that Mr Hollande often jokingly calls poor people “les sans dents” (the people without teeth). This short phrase – denied by Mr Hollande and many friends and colleagues – has caused him more political grief than anything else in the book.

Asked if she agreed with the two thirds of French people who think that Mr Hollande should resign, Ms Trierweiler said: “No. Absolutely not.

“He was elected for a five-year term. He has two and a half more years to prove himself.”