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India stage for French affair

- Valerie to attend event as she battles to remain first lady

Paris, Jan. 24: Valérie Trierweiler showed her determination to cling on to her first lady duties today as it emerged that she plans to maintain a charity commitment in India on Sunday.

In a move described in Paris as her “last stand”, Trierweiler let it be known that she would fulfil her pledge to fly to Mumbai for Action Contre La Faim, a French humanitarian organisation.

Her move came as she sacked her lawyer for suggesting yesterday that she wanted to negotiate a settlement with President Hollande, her partner.

Hollande, 59, who was revealed to be having an affair with Julie Gayet, 41, an actress and film producer, is reportedly keen to end his relationship with Trierweiler. He has said he will make clear whether they are still together before a state visit to Washington on February 11.

Reports in the French media say he is planning to travel on his own to see Barack Obama and to leave Trierweiler, 48, in Paris —suggesting that, for him, her time as first lady is over. But Trierweiler seems to have no intention of going quietly.

A spokesman confirmed that she would maintain a two-day trip to India with Charlotte Valandrey, an actress known for her charity work. Although the post of first lady is mentioned nowhere in French legislation, the role exists in practice, and the Indian trip falls within its scope.

Le Parisien quoted a friend of Trierweiler as saying: “It’s a visit that was planned a long time ago. It’s a way of showing that she is attached to humanitarian causes and that she will continue to take an interest in them whatever happens in the days to come.”

Trierweiler’s spokesman said Action Contre La Faim would pay for her trip.

The first lady is due to visit a shantytown in Mumbai to highlight the problem of malnutrition but also to participate in a gala dinner.

Trierweiler was hospitalised for more than a week after taking an overdose of sleeping pills upon discovering that photographs of Hollande’s affair were about to be published in the French press.

She has been recuperating at La Lanterne, the French presidential residence in Versailles, outside Paris, for the past six days.

In her first on-the-record conversation with a journalist, Trierweiler told Alexandre Kara, of Europe 1 radio station, that she was “feeling better”.

But she slapped down Maître Frédérique Giffard, her lawyer, for announcing on Thursday that she wanted a dignified end to the Elysée Palace soap opera.

Giffard had said: “She really wishes that all this business can be resolved to get out of it with the greatest possible dignity.”

Trierweiler was scathing. “She spoke without knowing anything and without being authorised. She is no longer my lawyer.”

Her position was weakened by a poll in Le Parisien showing that 54 per cent of French people no longer wanted a first lady at all.

The poll also found that she was the least popular first lady in modern French history, with just 8 per cent of respondents giving her their preference.

Bernadette Chirac, wife of Jacques, who was President between 1995 and 2007, came top, ahead of Danielle Mitterrand, whose husband François was Head of State from 1981 to 1995 and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, whose husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, ran the country between 2007 and 2012, was third.

As his love life continued to make headline news, Hollande arrived at the Vatican today for a meeting with Pope Francis.

Hours before his arrival, a bomb exploded outside the Saint-Yves-des-Bretons, a French church in Rome.

No one was injured in the explosion, but three cars were damaged and the windows were blown out of a nearby building.


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