|Valerie Trierweiler (center), the ex-partner of French President Francois Hollande, surrounded by security guards and officials, arrives at the international airport in Mumbai on Monday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
MUMBAI (AFP) ― Valerie Trierweiler, the ex-partner of French President Francois Hollande, was in India Monday on a charity visit, making her first public appearance since revelations of the leader’s affair with an actress.
Trierweiler arrived in the financial city of Mumbai just after midnight for the long-planned two-day mission to promote a French humanitarian group, despite no longer being France’s first lady.
Trierweiler did not speak to reporters after landing at Mumbai international airport and was surrounded by photographers before getting into a waiting car.
Hollande announced to AFP on Saturday that he was splitting from his partner of eight years following intense media scrutiny over his relationship with French actress Julie Gayet, 41.
Trierweiler, 48, had been convalescing at a presidential residence outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday, where she was treated for what was described as fatigue brought on by media reports on the affair two weeks ago.
Trierweiler is expected to visit a hospital Monday in Mumbai where the charity organizing the trip, Action Against Hunger, helps care for malnourished children.
The trip ― which the charity says is being financed mostly by private Indian partners ― also includes witnessing a training program for medical staff.
She will lunch with the wives of top local businessmen and attend a gala dinner on Monday evening at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel where she is also staying.
A press conference is planned for Monday but Trierweiler herself may not address the media, the charity has said. Her visit is expected to generate intense press interest given the scandal and her refusal so far to speak about it.
Her entourage said on Sunday she was accompanied on the trip by a presidential bodyguard. A source close to her said: “She is on good terms with the president and she is better.”
Monday’s dinner has been organized to promote ACF’s local charity partner Fight Hunger Foundation, with Trierweiler the guest of honor and sponsors including Moet & Chandon.
She will be shown around the city by French actress Charlotte Valandrey, who is involved in the cause of promoting organ donations and transplants.
Trierweiler visited India in February last year when, accompanied by the president, she visited a shelter for street children in New Delhi and spoke of her desire as First Lady to become a champion of children’s rights.
Trierweiler is a glamorous, twice-married career journalist who has three children of her own.
Hollande, 59, announced his separation from Segolene Royal, a senior member of his Socialist party and a presidential candidate in 2007, just after she lost the election to Nicolas Sarkozy.
He then started living openly with Trierweiler. Although she is not married to Hollande, she assumed the role of first lady at official functions after Hollande’s election in 2012.
Trierweiler cut down on her work at the French magazine Paris-Match and engaged in charitable activities after his election.
Following Hollande’s announcement of their separation, Trierweiler tweeted:
“I extend all my gratitude to the fantastic Elysee staff. I will never forget their dedication nor the emotional farewell.”
On Sunday several thousand people marched through Paris to rally against a slew of policies under Hollande ― the most unpopular French president of modern times ― in a “Day of Anger” which ended with clashes between police and protesters.