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Hollande visits his first lady in hospital

President Francois Hollande has visited France's first lady for the first time since she was taken to hospital last week after a gossip magazine reported he was having an affair with an actress.

Mr Hollande (below) visited Valerie Trierweiler on Thursday night, an official at the presidential palace said yesterday.

The 48-year-old journalist was admitted a week ago to Paris's Pitie-Salpetriere 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 Julie Gayet (41).

Patrice Biancone, a spokesman for Ms Trierweiler, said her condition was improving.

In its initial report on the matter, Closer published photos that it said show Mr Hollande, wearing a motorcycle helmet with darkened visor, sneaking into an apartment near the presidential palace to meet Ms Gayet.

She is suing the magazine, accusing it of invasion of privacy.

The report dented a tradition among French media of ignoring the private lives of public figures.

At a previously planned news conference on Tuesday, Mr Hollande acknowledged "painful moments" in his relationship with Ms Trierweiler.

He refused to go into any more detail, saying only that the question of who the first lady is would be clarified before he leaves next month for a state visit in the US that she'd been expected to attend.