Little for François Hollande to celebrate as the French President reaches his 60th birthday

Premier keeps his anniversary quiet in effort to avoid torrent of negative headlines


France’s President, François Hollande, went underground today to celebrate his 60th birthday, fleeing the gossip mags and negative headlines in the right-wing media.

The Elysée palace said only that the President was somewhere in south-eastern France with his four children – born to Mr Hollande and his former partner Ségolène Royal. His only known work-related activity was a lunchtime phone call to Vladimir Putin, in which Mr Hollande expressed “serious concern” about Russia’s “unilateral” dispatch of a so-called humanitarian convoy to eastern Ukraine. It is not known whether Mr Putin wished the French President a happy birthday.

His critics in the French press made it clear that the President, whose 16 per cent approval rating is two points above his record low of 14, has nothing to celebrate. Le Point, a right-wing news magazine, asked its readers to prioritise their birthday wish list for him: their top one was that he should leave office.

Some opposition politicians took to Twitter suggesting that he should have the courage of his socialist convictions and retire on his 60th birthday.

Le Figaro today published the eighth instalment of a fictional series entitled Hollande Leaves. In the latest instalment, the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, considers throwing his hat into the ring to replace the President who has stepped down 18 months before the end of his term. Unfortunately for Mr Hollande, the plot – whose backdrop is a France mired in debt, with rising unemployment, mass demonstrations and a split within the political left – doesn’t seem far-fetched.

In an editorial, Le Figaro claimed the President’s performance has been greeted with “general disappointment, even within his own camp”. The paper predicted the situation will worsen, with growth figures and the unemployment rate “expected to confirm the head of state’s goals are out of reach on both fronts”.

Last week Mr Hollande received a major setback for his flagship economic policy when the Constitution Council, the country’s top constitutional authority, ruled that a key tax cut proposal was  illegal in a “responsibility pact” which promises a deal with business.

One gossip magazine also kept Mr Hollande in pole position for his birthday. Closer reported that the actress Julie Gayet – exposed as the presidential lover by the magazine, prompting his separation from his partner Valérie Trierweiler last January – is on location a long way from where the President is celebrating. “Will they meet today? It’s a mystery,” the magazine said.

It was only last week that the magazine Voici splashed a photograph of the actress on a Corsican beach with another man. The President was reported to have felt “liberated” by the publication, after being forced to earlier deny rumours that he and Ms Gayet would wed on  his birthday.

But further humiliation stalked Mr Hollande in today’s Le Figaro. A review of a book about Ms Royal by a former adviser highlighted a comment by a leading Socialist, Lille’s mayor Martine Aubry, saying to her: “But how could you stick with a wet like that for so many years?”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before