herald

Monday 10 December 2018

François Hollande is a cold, cynical cheat who brazenly lied to his lover over his affair with an actress, according to a devastating "kiss and tell" memoir written by his spurned ex-girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler.

François Hollande is a cold, cynical cheat who brazenly lied to his lover over his affair with an actress, according to a devastating "kiss and tell" memoir written by his spurned ex-girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler.

Depicted as obsessively ambitious but overwhelmed, the president does not come out well of Thank You For This Moment, released today as a no-holds-barred account of Miss Trierweiler's nine-year relationship with Mr Hollande and her 18 months at the Elysée Palace.

His aides today said he was kept totally in the dark about its imminent release and was "appalled" at extracts published in yesterday's Paris Match, including one recounting a desperate fight over sleeping pills at the Elysée Palace when his affair with Julie Gayet hit the headlines.

A friend told Le Parisien that Miss Trierweiler had apparently shelved her book plans, but then changed her mind when she "finally realised that he would never come back".

"She thought Julie Gayet was out of the picture, which was never the case. She wreaked revenge, quite simply," the friend is cited as saying.

Miss Trierweiler reveals Mr Hollande proposed to her in September 2012 only to abruptly change his mind.

cruelty

"We had planned to get married just before Christmas with a small gathering in Tulle [Mr Hollande's political base]. He changed his mind a month beforehand using words of the utmost cruelty. Julie Gayet was already in his life but I didn't know."

Miss Trierweiler's time as first lady ended brutally in January when Mr Hollande publicly and unceremoniously dumped the 49-year-old following revelations about Mr Hollande's secret love affair with Miss Gayet, a 42-year-old actress.

The humiliation was such that Miss Trierweiler, who has three children from an earlier marriage, checked herself into a public hospital for eight days suffering from "stress".

In extracts released by magazine Paris-Match, she recounts the bust-up after learning of his infidelities.

"The news about Julie Gayet is the top headline in the dailies...I lose the plot. I don't want to hear this, I rush into the bathroom. I grab the little plastic bag containing the sleeping pills," she writes.

"Francois follows me. He tries to snatch the bag. I run into the bedroom. He grabs the bag, which tears. The pills spill over the bed and on the floor... I manage to pick up some. I swallow what I can. I want to sleep. I don't want to live through the coming hours.

"I feel the storm about to break over me and I don't have the strength to resist. I want to flee. I lose consciousness," she goes on.

Miss Trierweiler said Hollande brazenly lied to her over the Gayet affair. When rumours circulated in March 2013, she asked him: "Swear to me on my son's life that it's false and we won't talk about it anymore.

"He swears, and dismisses it as nonsense."

children

The book also recounts her "hysterical jealousy" of Ségolène Royal, Mr Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children, and his current ecology minister.

After splitting up over Miss Trierweiler, Mr Hollande and Miss Royal joined forces and held hands on stage at a campaign rally in Rennes in 2012.

In the audience, Miss Trierweiler says: "I literally feel this 'uncontrollable emotional excess': it is physically impossible for me to see the pair holding hands on stage. I hit rock bottom, I'm washed out. François and I will never form a recognised couple."

Miss Trierweiler, who famously backed Miss Royal's party rival in parliamentary elections via a notorious tweet in 2012, says that her ex admitted during one row: "Maybe we should have split up then."

Mr Hollande comes across as cold and boorish at times, at one stage telling his then girlfriend: "Does it take you a long time to look that beautiful? Yes it does. At the same time, nothing else is required of you."

But she also claims that since dumping her in January, Mr Hollande has bombarded her with text messages pleading with her to meet up in a bid to win her back as if she "were an election".

"He says he needs me. Every evening, he asks me out to dinner. He wants to get back with me at whatever the cost.

messages

"His messages speak of love. He writes that I mean the world to him, that he can do nothing without me."

When she finally responds, he sends her 29 text messages in one day.

"Does he believe what he writes? Or am I the latest whim of a man who can't stand losing? He tells me he'll win me back, as if I were an election?"

Behind the jovial bonhomie, the president comes across as cynically ambitious at all times.

When Miss Trierweiler rouses him in the night to tell him that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn - his rival in Socialist presidential primaries - has been arrested for rape in New York, he spares not a thought for his colleague.

"François is already thinking ahead about his next [political] move. 'It's not good news,'" he tells her. "It could spark people to rally round Martine Aubry' [another rival in primaries]."

The memoirs will reportedly flood French bookshops today with a massive print run of as many as 200,000 copies.

According to Le Monde, Miss Trierweiler wrote the 320-page tome over the past six months in utmost secrecy, never connecting her laptop to an internet connection.

The timing of its release has been described as "disastrous" for Hollande, whose approval ratings are rock bottom and who is seeking to recast himself as a business-friendly reformist.

"Just when François Hollande thought he could start afresh and move forward, he faces 'the revenge of a blonde'," Le Point wrote.

hnews@herald.ie

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