"I didn't want to kill myself, I just wanted to sleep"
Valerie Trierweiler has denied she tried to kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills when she discovered that her partner, Francois Hollande, the French president, was having an affair with an actress.
The denial came during a publicity tour to Britain, where her bestselling kiss-and-tell book about her nine-year relationship with Mr Hollande - 'Thank You for this Moment: a Story of Love, Power and Betrayal' - is published in translation this week.
In the book, which came out in France in September, she wrote that he had snatched a bag of pills out of her hand on the night in January when she learnt of his affair with the actress Julie Gayet.
It was widely reported as a thwarted suicide attempt by the 49-year-old journalist, who was distraught at hearing of photographs in a gossip magazine of Mr Hollande arriving at his lover's apartment on the back of a scooter.
Miss Trierweiler - who has refused to give interviews to the French media about her book - told the BBC yesterday that "it wasn't a suicide attempt".
"I just wanted to go to sleep. I didn't want to go through those moments, to see the photos, to face up to this new reality," she said in an interview for The Andrew Marr Show.
France is looking on in fascination as Miss Trierweiler does the rounds of Britain's media, having refused to speak to French journalists for fear they will not give her a fair hearing.
"Trierweiler received like a star in London" was the headline in the newspaper 'Le Parisien' yesterday, while 'Le Journal du Dimanche' printed her picture alongside one of Miss Gayet on its front page and asked "Just how far will her [Trierweiler's] vengeance go?"
Her visit comes as Mr Hollande hit a new low in the opinion polls. He was already the least popular French president in modern history and a new IFOP poll yesterday showed that his score had dropped another percentage point to just 13pc. The book has damaged his credibility even further and his aides have said he is terrified that his former partner will write a sequel.
The twice-divorced mother of three says she does not want to take revenge but simply to refute the "lies" being told about her in the wake of her acrimonious split.
The book is thought likely to damage Mr Hollande in the eyes of the French people with her claims that he calls the poor people "the toothless" and that he instructed her to be given high doses of tranquillisers, shortly after they had broken up, to keep her in hospital and out of his way.
Asked why she had written the book, Ms Trierweiler, a journalist, says: "I started writing it before knowing that it was going to become a book. For me writing is a form of therapy, I started writing it when I wasn't feeling terribly well and that was a good reason for writing it."
She says the title "will remain a mystery, a message that only Francois Hollande himself will understand".
And she adds: "It's not a personal attack on Hollande at all, it is the story of our relationship, there are good moments and bad moments."
She adds: "This book wasn't aimed at destroying him; its aim was to help me rebuild my own life. I've also said in the book that he is exceptional at times, abroad he comes across very well for instance. I think the book will be an electric shock for him." (© Daily Telegraph, London)