Francois Hollande “shared” his mistress Valerie Trierweiler with a minister from Nicolas Sarkozy’s government in a Jules et Jim-style relationship, a new biography on France’s first lady claims.
La Frondeuse (The Troublemaker), claims that Miss Trierweiler, 47, had an affair with Patrick Devedjian, 68, a former economic recovery minister, in the early 2000s, but that the Socialist Mr Hollande, 58, muscled in when the Right-winger failed to commit himself further to the relationship.
There followed a period “a bit like Jules et Jim,” said the co-author Christophe Jakubyszyn, a close friend of the first lady, referring to the 1962 François Truffaut film in which Jeanne Moreau is in a love triangle with two men and all three live in the same house.
“Patrick Devedjian hesitated so much that Valérie Trierweiler allowed herself to be courted by a second man of another political persuasion: François Hollande,” he said.
“Little by little, the relationship with Hollande took precedence over the other, notably after an ultimatum in 2003 which Devedjian failed to respect. But he suffered a lot from the break-up. It was a bit like Jules et Jim. Both men still have a lot of respect for each other,” he said.
All three had other partners at the time.
In another extract of La Frondeuse, out today, Miss Trierweiler is cited as claiming she was “chatted up” by Mr Sarkozy “while he was holding his ex-wife’s Cecila’s hand” at an Elysée garden party in the same period.
“You are so beautiful,” he is said to have whispered to Miss Trierweiler, then a political journalist. She responded with a “withering look”.
Clearly annoyed at the rebuff, he is said to have told other journalists: “Who does she think she is? Am I not good enough for her?”
The book says they fell out irrevocably in March over claims that Mr Sarkozy’s entourage leaked information to the press that one of her sons had been stopped by police in the street with a banger. Miss Trierweiler alleged that he did so as a damage limitation exercise after his youngest son, Louis, was caught throwing tomatoes at policemen from the Elysée Palace. The revelations about Mr Hollande’s romantic life came a day after a French former minister mocked the president, who is about to legalise homosexual unions in France, for wanting “marriage for everyone, except himself”.
“It’s a little contradiction, I have to smile about it,” said Gérard Longuet, a former defence minister. The French government plans to legalise same-sex marriage by the middle of next year.
It was unlikely to help Mr Hollande’s popularity, which has sunk to its lowest level since his May election, partly down to annoyance at his inability to keep his complex love life in check.
Mr Hollande has four children from a previous relationship with his Socialist colleague Ségolène Royal, with whom he also lived without marrying.
Miss Royal clashed with Miss Trierweiler over an infamous tweet in June’s legislative elections where the French first lady backed Miss Royal’s rival. She has recently kept a low profile after one poll found 67 per cent of voters had a negative opinion of her.
Another recent biography squarely blamed Mr Hollande for the war between his current and former girlfriends, claiming he had stoked tensions by considering returning to Miss Royal after her defeat in the 2007 presidential election. Alix Bouilhaguet, the book’s other author, said Miss Trierweiler was seeking a rapprochement with Miss Royal to “calm things down”. She has not been on speaking terms with Mr Hollande’s children since the tweet episode.
Mr Devedjian was indirectly involved in a sex and politics scandal recently when his former head of staff wrote a thinly disguised political fable set in Mr Sarkozy’s former fiefdom in the rich western suburbs of Paris.
Le Monarque, Son Fils, Son Fief (The monarch, his son, his fiefdom) by Marie-Célie Guillaume describes a power-mad leader known as “Rocky” who does pelvic floor exercises with his personal trainer on the Élysée lawn and shadow boxes in front of a mirror.
More controversially, the summer best-seller recounts how minutes before a public appearance, “Rocky” demands a sexual favour from a provincial mayor in return for subsidising a medieval history museum.
Mr Sarkozy was said to be livid, calling for Miss Guillaume’s dismissal.