Valerie Trierweiler, who has apparently lost her unofficial title as France’s first lady after President Francois Hollande reportedly dumped her in favor of a younger actress, is traveling to India to highlight malnutrition and hunger on the subcontinent. Her trip is organized and financed by Action Against Hunger, a French aid organization, while controversy swirls over her fractured relationship with Hollande. “We are delighted she is coming. Everything is ready to welcome her,” the organization said.
According to media reports, Trierweiler will be in Mumbai, accompanied by French actress Charlotte Valandrey, who promotes the cause of organ donations and transplants. Trierwieler will visit a slum and attend a charity dinner at the Taj Mahal Palace, a hotel. The India visit was apparently planned long in advance and will mark Trierweiler’s first public appearance since the scandal erupted. "[The trip is] a way of showing that she [Trierweiler] is attached to humanitarian causes and that she will continue to take an interest in them, whatever happens in the days that come," an unnamed friend of hers told Le Parisien newspaper.
But Le Parisien also reported that some staff members at the Elysee Palace, the president’s home in Paris, were shocked by Trierweiler’s Indian vacation. A source also revealed that Hollande did not want her to go to India. "It's madness," a source was quoted as saying. "She's just out of [the] hospital and should be resting instead." Trierweiler, 48, and Hollande, 59, are unmarried – a situation that caused some diplomatic awkwardness when the two of them went to India last year.
Now, in the wake of allegations that Hollande has engaged in an affair with a starlet named Julie Gayet, 41, Trierweiler may be seeking a temporary escape from the stress she has undergone in France. Indeed, she spent more than a week in a hospital after news of Hollande’s cheating emerged in a French gossip-celebrity magazine. Since her release from the hospital, Trierweiler has refused to discuss the scandal with French media and has been recuperating at a presidential retreat at Versailles, La Lanterne, outside Paris.
Hollande himself was asked about the affair during a speech he delivered on the economy last week – he curtly refused to go into specifics, but added he will reveal more information at a later date. Trierweiler and Hollande are supposed to make an official state visit to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11 -- however it is unclear if she will actually accompany him on that journey.
Questions continue to surround the nature of the relationship between Trierweiler and Hollande. Le Figaro newspaper reported on Thursday that Trierweiler is seeking to resolve the impasse with Hollande. One of her lawyers, Frederique Giffard, told the paper that she is “negotiating” with Hollande “the most dignified possible conclusion” to their crisis. However, a report subsequently emerged that Trierweiler fired that same lawyer, while denying her comments. Indeed, other reports suggest that Trierweiler wants to repair her relationship with Hollande.
She may not have much sympathy among the public – a poll in Le Parisien indicated that she is the most unpopular first lady of the last 50 years, with only 8 percent of respondents liking her. It is also unclear if Trierweiler will be in India as an official representative of the French government or as a private citizen. “In short, she is quite insouciantly telling Francois Holland that she’s an independent woman who will do just as she likes!” a French journalist told the Hindu Newspaper of India.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.