Monday 19 February 2018

French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler leaves hospital - reports

Francois Hollande makes first public speech since press conference but refuses to take questions

Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler
Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler
Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler. Photo: Reuters
Valerie Trierweiler is in hospital suffering from ‘extreme fatigue. Photo: EPA
Happier times: Francois Hollande offers a rose to his companion Valerie Trierweiler during his election campaign

The French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler has reportedly left hospital.

Ms Trierweiler was receiving treatment in hospital since allegations of the French President Francois Hollande's affair with an actress first emerged.

The Associated Foreign Press media outlet reported that she left hospital earlier today.

News of her discharge came shorly after Mr Hollande spoke for the first time since his now-infamous New Year press conference, in which he refused to address rumours about an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

Mr Hollande addressed a gathering of party activists in the town of Tulle, where he begun his political career as mayor. The rural town, in the centre of France, is also home to Jacques Chirac, the the area celebrates its political connections with plaques in local bars and restaurants.

The embattled French president used his speech to emphasise themes from Tuesday's Elysee press conference; productivity, economic reform and support for small businesses.

He also spoke to his rural constituents about the value of farming.

"France has always, in negotiations with the European Union, defended the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy," he said. "In the same manner, we have always fought for French farmers."

He continued: "France, beautiful France, great France, must overcome the skepticism of others.

"France must retake the path of progress."

After a 35 minute speech he left the stage without taking questions.

Earlier in the day he had opened a new police station and fire brigade headquarters in Vigeois, before having lunch with the Conseil Général - regional government - in Tulle.

There was rare press interest for the trip to regional France, with French and foreign media descending on the small community for Mr Hollande's speech.

But his previous discourse, four days previously, had been overshadowed by allegations of an affair.

Valerie Trierweiler, who had been described as suffering from nervous exhaustion and low blood pressure, was taken to hospital upon hearing of the affair, and Mr Hollande refused on Tuesday to say whether she was still the "First Lady".

Miss Trierweiler had been planning to discharge herself from the hospital on Friday and had intended to go to a presidential residence in Versailles to continue her recuperation, Paris Match said.

"The family of our colleague are worried," the magazine added. "On Friday afternoon, for the first time since she was hospitalised, her youngest son, who is 16, was not able to visit his mother at the Pitie-Salpetriere (hospital)."

Public reaction to the scandal has been more muted than would be expected in countries like the United States or Britain.

A poll for i-Tele released on Saturday showed 75 per cent of respondents agreed that Mr Hollande was right not to answer questions on his personal life, and 62 per cent believed the affair was a private matter of no public concern.

The magazine Closer, which published the allegations two weeks running, had however sold out.


Harriet Alexander

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