President Francois Hollande has visited France's first lady for the first time since she was taken to hospital for rest following a gossip magazine's report that he was having an affair with an actress.
Mr Hollande visited Valerie Trierweiler the previous evening, an official at the presidential palace said today.
The 48-year-old journalist was admitted a week ago to an unspecified hospital for rest. His office said she had experienced a "crisis of nerves" on learning of the report in Closer magazine last week that the 59-year-old president has been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet, who is 41.
In today's edition, Closer alleged that the affair has been going on for two years. The presidential palace has declined comment.
A spokesman for Ms Trierweiler said yesterday that her condition was improving.
Earlier, a Closer representative said Ms Gayet had filed a lawsuit against the magazine for alleged invasion of privacy.
Mr Hollande has expressed "indignation" about the report, but stopped short of saying whether he would sue.
Meanwhile, our photo above, taken two years ago, shows Francois Hollande touching hands with journalist Valerie Trierweiler who was his mistress, with his ex-partner Segolène Royal seated nearby, all overlooked by future lover Julie Gayet.
It could be a scene from a French movie; Francois Hollande touching hands with journalist Valerie Trierweiler who was his mistress, with his ex-partner Segolène Royal seated nearby, all overlooked by future lover Julie Gayet.
The photo was taken in 2012 on the campaign trail as Hollande was looking to be elected President of France. At that stage he had separated from fellow Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, the mother of his four children after a 30 year relationship.
It is believed he began a relationship with journalist Valerie Trierweiler in 2007, and the Paris Match writer confirmed they were together the following year.
The photo emerged as it was revealed that Hollande wanted to break up with Valerie Trierweiler last weekend but had to ditch the idea after she "took one pill too many" and was taken to hospital.
'Le Nouvel Observateur', the Left-leaning magazine, claimed that the French president had hoped to get his official partner to sign a joint announcement of their separation on Saturday, the day after details of his alleged affair with the actress Julie Gayet were published.
According to the magazine 'Le Point', a friend of Ms Trierweiler said she was in hospital having taken "one pill too many" the night Mr Hollande confirmed the affair in a "cold and implacable" manner. In a state of "deep despair", she woke up on the Friday morning feeling sick and "terribly alone" and asked to be taken to hospital.
'Le Point' quashed the idea that first lady Ms Trierweiler had tried to commit suicide. It said Mr Hollande had denied involvement with Ms Gayet in the weeks leading up to the publication of photographs in the magazine 'Closer' last Friday.
'Le Nouvel Observateur' reported that, with a crucial press conference scheduled for Tuesday, Mr Hollande (59) had surmised that an announcement of a clean break with Ms Trierweiler was the "least worst solution". But by Sunday, he interpreted the news that she would be staying in hospital for the foreseeable future as "dismissing out of hand" his preferred option.
Last night Ms Trierweiler broke her silence to contact a radio station from hospital, denying that Mr Hollande had declined to visit her and insisting instead that he had been barred from doing so by doctors.
She further added that he had sent her flowers and chocolates, and said that she had not suffered a nervous breakdown but rather "extreme fatigue".
'Paris Match', for which Ms Trierweiler (48) has long worked, wrote a supportive article saying she had tried hard to "keep the flame" of romance alive with Mr Hollande, but that they had drifted apart because of the strains of the presidency.
'Le Nouvel Observateur' said the supposed "secret affair" with Ms Gayet (41) had been an open secret for "months".
It said "alarm bells started ringing" as early as August, when Ms Trierweiler flew alone to Greece while the president travelled to Correze, his regional power base in central France, where Ms Gayet was spending her holidays.
The reports come as a book on Mr Hollande's presidency -- called 'So Far, So Bad' and published this week -- said that one of his first questions after taking up office last year was: "How can I get out of here without being seen?"
The book also describes Ms Trierweiler's obsession with Segolene Royal, Mr Hollande's ex-partner and mother of his four children, leading to her notorious tweet in support of Ms Royal's Socialist rival in parliamentary elections.
Ms Royal later exclaimed in words that appear prophetic: "She would do better to worry about who's next."
Meanwhile, Cecilia Attias, who was Nicolas Sarkozy's wife when he became president in 2007, has called on France to reform the role of first lady, which currently has no legal status.
It has created an unclear situation where the first lady has an office funded by taxpayers, but no official budget. Mrs Attias, who left Mr Sarkozy five months after his election, said: "When you elect a man or a woman, there is a partner, and you cannot literally erase them." She said Paris should set up an office of the first lady, as in the US. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Henry Samuel in Paris