French first lady making progress in hospital

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By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — France's first lady is making progress in a hospital where she is receiving care following a gossip magazine's report that President Francois Hollande was having a secret affair with an actress, a spokesman said Thursday.

Valerie Trierweiler was hospitalized Jan. 9 for rest after the weekly Closer's report about Hollande and actress Julie Gayet. It alleged that Hollande, wearing a helmet with darkened visor, was sneaking into an apartment near the presidential palace by motorcycle to meet Gayet.

The allegation has dented a tradition among French media of ignoring the private lives of public figures. Hollande has acknowledged "painful moments" in his relationship with Trierweiler, and said the question of who the first lady is would be clarified before his trip Feb. 11 to the United States for a state visit that she'd been expected to attend.

"I can tell you Madame Trierweiler is still in the hospital, and her doctors will determine when she can leave," Patrice Biancone, her spokesman, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. Trierweiler's condition is progressing: "She has six days of rest behind her — that counts, after all," he said, without elaborating.

Biancone appeared to suggest that Hollande hasn't visited her.

"All visits have been forbidden ... except for the family — and even then, just her son," said Biancone, declining to specify which one of Trierweiler's three sons from her previous marriage had. He didn't identify the hospital, or indicate whether the president had been in direct communication with her, saying that was a private matter.

An official in Hollande's office, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Trierweiler had been hospitalized for "a crisis of nerves" after learning of the alleged affair a day before the magazine issue hit newsstands.

Also Thursday, a Closer representative said Gayet had filed a lawsuit against the magazine for alleged invasion of privacy over its report. The magazine has received legal documents laying out the suit which seeks 54,000 euros ($74,000) in damages and other fees, plus the publication of a summary of any judicial ruling in the case on its front page. The representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the matter, declined to comment further.

Asked about the matter at a news conference Tuesday, Hollande said his "indignation is total" about the report, but stopped short of denying the allegations or saying whether he'd sue the magazine.

Hollande, 59, is a lifelong bachelor, but has four children with former presidential candidate Segolene Royal — a fellow Socialist.

He and Trierweiler, a 48-year-old journalist, have lived together since 2007. While they're not married, she occupies the so-called "madame wing" of the presidential palace, travels abroad with Hollande, and functions as the first lady.

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Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

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