PARIS — French President François Hollande has split with the country’s first lady two weeks after a tabloid reported the leader was having an affair with an actress, an official said Saturday.
A presidential aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Hollande ended his seven-year relationship with Valérie Trierweiler.
The breakup was first reported by French news agency Agence France-Presse, which said Hollande told it in a telephone conversation late Saturday that “I make it known that I have put an end” to the relationship with Trierweiler.
Hollande, who has four children with former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, told the news agency he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as head of state.
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He and Trierweiler have lived together since 2007, and while they’re unmarried, Trierweiler occupied the so-called madame wing of the presidential palace, traveled abroad with Hollande and functioned as the first lady.
Hollande had dodged questions about Trierweiler’s status since a Jan. 14 news conference at which he refused to say whether the 48-year-old journalist was still the first lady.
Those questions surged to the front pages after Closer magazine reported Hollande, 59, was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41. The magazine published photos showing a man it said was the president, wearing a helmet and seated on the back of a scooter, supposedly being taken to a rendezvous with Gayet.
Trierweiler checked into a hospital for a weeklong stay after the tabloid’s report about the affair.
Hollande promised at his news conference to clear up confusion over the identity of his first lady before a scheduled Feb. 11 state visit to the U.S.
The president and Trierweiler are both scheduled to spend several days abroad. She is headed on a humanitarian trip to India on Sunday and Hollande is traveling to Turkey on an official visit Monday.
Hollande remains one of the most unpopular president’s in French history, but his approval ratings were nearly unchanged after news began to spread that his relationship was on the rocks.