independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Trierweiler 'no regrets' over split

Valerie Trierweiler smiles as she arrives to board a flight in Mumbai, India (AP)

"Je ne regrette rien," ("I don't regret a thing") France's former first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, has told Paris-Match magazine amid the drama of being dumped by President Francois Hollande for a younger actress.

Ms Trierweiler and Mr Hollande seem to be keeping things civilised, though. Since the president announced their split over the weekend, they have apparently continued to talk and text.

Ms Trierweiler, speaking to journalists on a trip to India this week, described for the first time some of what led to their break-up. She seemed to be trying to smooth over her reputation and win sympathy from the French, who have seen her as aloof and manipulative and never really warmed to her.

Ms Trierweiler blamed the deterioration in their relationship on Mr Hollande's ascent to the presidency, the country's macho political culture and the shock of learning about his affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

She told Paris-Match, where she herself worked as a journalist, that she did not believe rumours about the affair until the gossip magazine Closer reported it earlier this month.

"When I found out, it was like I had fallen from a skyscraper," she is quoted as saying.

Ms Trierweiler fainted at the news, the weekly reported, and then spent a week in hospital.

In India, she appeared tired but calm and ready to move on with her life.

"It's clear that we would be together if he were not president," she told the Associated Press and other journalists in Mumbai.

She expressed "immense disappointment" in France's political world, calling it "extremely macho" and political journalism "disgusting". She herself was a political journalist before becoming first lady.

Nevertheless, she said she is "not at war" with Mr Hollande.

Her aides said the two spoke regularly on the phone during her India trip. She told Le Parisien that she and Mr Hollande exchanged text messages "because he was worried about the organisation of the trip and my health".

She said life in the Elysee Palace had been hard for her three children from a previous marriage. She insisted to Le Parisien that she was not a "princess" and described to Paris-Match her life growing up in public housing.

She said the "detachment" between her and Mr Hollande began a while ago but admitted she was not prepared for a break-up, according to Paris-Match.

Ms Trierweiler came under some criticism for her reaction to the affair, for not quietly shrugging it off as something that French leaders do. But that attitude towards her may be changing.

Parisian Christopher Neill, 64, said today that she is "very courageous".

Youssef Eddajibi, a 19-year-old from the Paris suburb of Stains, said Mr Hollande's behaviour was "unacceptable. Also, half of the French population knows about it, "which makes Valerie's life even harder".

Ms Trierweiler says she will now move back into her Paris apartment, which she and Mr Hollande shared before and during the beginning of his presidency.

AP

Press Association

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