French President Francois Hollande’s political and personal woes deepened after it emerged that his girlfriend had been rushed to hospital following a report he has been having an affair with an actress.
Valerie Trierweiler, who lives with the president in the Elysee Palace, his official residence, was admitted to hospital on Friday “for a rest and to undergo some tests,” aides said, adding that they expected her to leave the clinic on Monday.
Closer magazine reported in its edition published on Friday that Hollande, 59, has been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41.
The weekly glossy printed photos which it claimed showed Gayet and Hollande arriving separately at a flat near the presidential Elysee Palace for secret trysts.
Hollande would reportedly arrive at the flat on a chauffeur-driven scooter and had fresh croissants delivered to the apartment in the mornings by his personal bodyguards.
The Socialist leader has slammed Closer‘s report as an outrageous attack on his right to a private life and said he is considering legal action.
But he has not denied the substance of the magazine’s claims of a passionate affair which pushed him and Gayet to take “insane risks”.
French media reaction to the Closer report had largely been subdued and a poll published on Sunday suggested that more than three quarters (77 percent) of French voters think the president’s love life is nobody’s business but his own.
But any hopes Hollande harboured of riding out the storm were shattered as opposition MPs started to try and make political capital out of his embarrassment.
Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of the centre-right UMP, said Hollande was holding the presidential office up to ridicule and questioned his judgement.
“You only have to read the international press. When they talk about France at the moment it is either about this affair, or about (anti-Semitic comedian) Dieudonne,” Cope said.
He said the Closer revelations should act as a “lesson in humility” for Hollande.
“When you are President of the Republic you have to be very careful about all these questions. Everyone regrets the publication of these photos but that is how it is, that is the society we live in.”
Another UMP deputy, Daniel Fasquelle, questioned whether it was “normal” for Trierweiler, who has her own personal staff within the Elysee, to be financed by taxpayers while Hollande was carrying on with other women.
“The French may ask themselves: who is now the First Lady of France?” Fasquelle said in a tweet.
Trierweiler, 48, is a glamorous, twice-divorced career journalist who has three children of her own and has been Hollande’s partner for the best part of a decade.