Paris: France’s former first lady Valerie Trierweiler has returned to Paris from a charity trip to India, her first public appearance in the country since President Francois Hollande announced their split after his affair with an actress.
Ms Trierweiler’s plane from Mumbai landed early on Wednesday and she was whisked away without having to go through the normal passenger terminal, an airport official said.
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Power splits France's top lovers
France's former First Lady, Valérie Trierweiler, blames power, "betrayals and backstabbing" for splitting her relationship with French President François Hollande.
While in India, she said that power had destroyed her relationship with Hollande, insisting the pair would still be together had her unfaithful ex-partner not become president.
"Low blows", "back-stabbing" and "betrayals" at the Elysee Palace hastened the demise of France's former presidential couple, the spurned Ms Trierweiler, 48, told French political journalists at an informal briefing on Sunday in Mumbai, during a charity trip to India's commercial capital.
"We would still be together had he not become president," she insisted, without elaborating on the link between Mr Hollande's presidential victory and his longstanding affair with Julie Gayet, a 41-year-old actress.
Despite the wistful take on their nine-year relationship - to which Mr Hollande officially announced he had "put an end" on Saturday after two weeks of confusion - Ms Trierweiler added that she now "feels liberated not to have the compunctions" of life at the centre of power.
During her two-day visit to India on behalf of the French charity Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) she visited a slum and witnessed a feeding program for malnourished children.She told AFP during the India trip that she would like to extend her humanitarian work - ‘‘especially towards poor children’’.The 48-year-old, who is still employed as an arts writer by the French magazine Paris Match, said she planned to continue charity work rather than returning to her previous role as a political journalist.
She also argued that the role of first lady, although unofficial, serves a purpose in France and should not disappear, despite public scepticism over a president's partner being given an Elysee office, staff and perks.
"I don't mind being called 'ex-first lady'. It's important there is one at the Elysee, she said, adding that she was quite happy to no longer be playing that role.
"I'm vaccinated. You cannot measure just how much betrayal and hypocrisy there is. You are struck by low blows without asking for anything. That's not my way of doing things," said Miss Trierweiler.
She had never had any ambitions for the trappings of political power and the decision to stand for the presidency was her former partner's, she insisted.
"I would have been with him even if he had not become president. The ambition was his alone," she said.
They had spoken on the telephone every day since Mr Hollande announced last weekend that he had decided to end their "shared life together" in a public statement. He had called her in Mumbai where she arrived late on Sunday for a charity launch in defiance of Elysee Palace staff.
"We are not at war," she insisted. "You don't cut off ties from one day to the next."
Responding to criticism in France that Mr Hollande's announcement of their separation sounded like a "letter of dismissal", she said: "[Our] separation was a split, not a dismissal. There was no advance notice."
Presidential aides had opposed her plans to fly to India but she decided to proceed because she had promised she would launch the Fight Hunger Foundation to tackle child malnutrition months before Mr Hollande's affair with Ms Gayet was revealed in French gossip magazine Closer.
Mr Hollande had telephoned her after her press conference appearance on Monday afternoon, but she stressed their relationship would not be rekindled in the future and indicated she was looking forward to moving on.
Ms Trierweiler said she now intended to make a new career as a humanitarian campaigner and was no longer interested in the "cynicism" of political journalism - her former career before she became first lady.
"It's an inhuman world full of betrayal," said the mother of three, who started an affair with Mr Hollande in 2005 while he was still officially with Segolene Royal, with whom he had four children.
The prospect of covering Mr Hollande would be ‘‘too complicated’’ she admitted at the end of the trip.
In Mumbai she visited two hospitals in Dharavi, the notorious slum which featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire, and later appeared emotional when she spoke of holding a young child suffering from dysentery and pneumonia in her arms.
"They are innocent and poor, they should not be subject to malnutrition ... It shocks me ... it does catch my heart and I would like to do something about it," she said.
Her wish, she said, was to "focus on humanitarian work" and for the media interest in her to die down. "I want to take time and I'm looking forward to driving myself and having a normal life. The interest will die down and my normal life will come back," she said. "Once they've seen me two or three times shopping, I think the paparazzi will stop."
AFP, Telegraph, London