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French President Actress Julie Gayet Affair: Francois Hollande to Split with France's First Lady

First Posted: Jan 28, 2014 11:13 AM EST
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Privacy laws in France are among the strictest in world, where the constitution says "everyone has the right to privacy." Publication of the private details of someone's life without their consent is a punishable offense and, as result, French media are often more cautious than in the United States or United Kingdom about the private lives of politicians or celebrities. That is why the President of France, François Hollande threatened to sue the magazine Closer when it published rumors of his affair with famous French actress Julie Gayet.

Closer magazine has been in trouble with France's strict privacy laws in the past, most recently when the British royal family successfully sued in September 2012 when the magazine published photos of the Duchess of Cambridge bathing topless on a private holiday in France.

Although he claims the report attacked his privacy, he did not deny the claim. Rumors of his relationship with the actress, who has appeared in more than 50 films as well as some of Hollande's election ads, circulated the internet for many months.

Since the news broke, Hollande has ended his relationship with his partner Valérie Trierweiler, a former journalist who was living with him as first lady in the Élysée Palace. France's history is full of presidents with complicated personal lives and Hollande is no exception.

People close to Hollande said he exhibited similar behaviors when he had an affair with Ms. Trierweiler while his partner at the time and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, was running for president.

"François lives in a state of denial," a friend said. "With Valérie, as with Ségolène, he denied having an affair for months. Then, when presented with a fait accompli, he made his choice without much emotion."

"If François Hollande hadn't been President, perhaps we would have still been together," Trierweiler said. "We are not at war. We talk on the telephone."

According to the BBC: "President Hollande, who took office in May 2012, has seen public support slipping recently. One poll in November gave him just 15% support, the lowest for any president in the past 50 years."

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