Hollande celebrates 60th amid love life rumours
François Hollande was due to spend his 60th birthday yesterday at a "mystery location" in southeastern France, as rumours continued to swirl over his love life following speculation - hotly denied - that he intends to marry actress Julie Gayet.
Since the start of the month, France's Socialist president had been officially on holiday at La Lanterne, an 18th century country residence for presidents and prime ministers at Versaille, which boasts a swimming pool and tennis court.
But the Elysée Palace let it be known yesterday that he had discreetly moved down South for his birthday at an undeclared location in Provence with his "family" - including his four children, Thomas, Clémence, Julien and Flora.
The mystery birthday celebrations came weeks after speculation that Mr Hollande intended to wed Miss Gayet, 42, on his birthday after calls for the French president to clarify his status.
Revelations of Mr Hollande's affair with Miss Gayet made headlines around the world in December, prompting the president to end his relationship with Valérie Trierweiler, 49, the following month.
In recent weeks, party leaders were reportedly concerned that if he failed to formalise his relationship with the actress, the constant rumours could overshadow the Socialists' 2017 election campaign. Closer magazine, which first revealed the president's secret night-time trysts with the actress, then reported that the couple had resumed their "love story", claiming earlier reports that their affair was over had been planted.
Last week, however, Voici, another glossy, published images of Miss Gayet on a beach in Corsica with another man, believed to be finance management lawyer Pierre Puybasset. The magazine said the actress stayed five days before returning to Paris.
Miss Gayet had enjoyed a "holiday of love" on the Mediterranean island, according to Atlantico, a news website. Mr Hollande poured more cold water on rumours of impending marriage by telling French journalists: "The only event I know about on August 12 is my birthday.
No need to bring presents, gifts or sugared almonds." One "old friend" said that the president was far happier leaving his complicated love life behind for the bachelor life.
(© Daily Telegraph London)