PARIS (AP) — In a country without a first lady, French President Francois Hollande’s companion may be nearly as official as it gets for the longtime bachelor.
Actress Julie Gayet made her first appearance Thursday at a ceremony that Hollande was also attending, although the 43-year-old never appeared by his side.
Gayet was invited to accompany her grandfather, Alain Gayet, a 92-year-old French Resistance hero, to a ceremony commemorating Charles de Gaulle’s appeal of June 18, 1940, at the Mont Valerien memorial west of Paris. In his famous speech, De Gaulle exhorted the French to resist the German occupation.
Dressed in black, Gayet arrived with her grandfather and listened to Hollande’s speech in the area reserved for VIPs.
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Hollande, 60, and Gayet have never denied being a couple, but they never made their relationship official either.
Hollande has made a point of keeping his love life private after his tumultuous breakup with Valerie Trierweiler in January 2014 amid reports that he was having an affair with Gayet.
When questioned in press conferences, Hollande refers to the French tradition of keeping private life “private.” Yet the president’s love life has gotten attention repeatedly since the first photos purportedly showing a helmeted Hollande visiting Gayet in a Paris apartment.
In April 2014, ex-first lady Trierweiler published a book portraying Hollande as a mean liar who was perpetuating a “cycle of infidelity.” While Trierweiler had lived with Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Gayet has her own Paris apartment.
In recent months, gossip magazines presented photos as showing Hollande and Gayet on the terrace of the Elysee Palace, or in the gardens of the president’s secondary residence in Versailles.
Hollande has never been married.
His three-decade partner Segolene Royal, mother of his four children, is also a prominent Socialist politician who once ran for president herself. Now she is one of the most influential ministers in Hollande’s government.
Hollande and Royal split in 2007, two years after his affair with Trierweiler began.