In the news: The French president has ended his relationship with journalist Valerie Trierweiler. Earlier this month, Trierweiler had a breakdown and spent a week in hospital after a gossip magazine publicized the fact that Hollande had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet for some time.
Comments from Laure and Mathilde, Master’s students from France
Laure: ‘I haven’t really talked about this affair with my French friends. There are so many more important things going on that we prefer not to talk about it. But I do not think someone in such a prominent position should do something like this. I didn’t have much confidence in Hollande to start with. For me this affair is the last straw – now I will never believe a word he says.’
Mathilde: ‘Newspapers pay more and more attention to the private lives of politicians. That happened when Sarkozy’s children were born as well. During the campaign for the presidential elections, there were photos of him with Carla Bruni and their child in all the papers – he used the child as an advertisement. Perhaps Hollande is not as good at making use of the media.’
Laure: ‘In the first place I was amazed that such a beautiful actress as Julie Gayet is interested in someone like Hollande – he is not physically attractive. But perhaps it is the same as they said about Carla Bruni and Sarkozy: that she went for him because he is powerful and influential.’
Mathilde: ‘Maybe this sort of thing is just all part of the game when presidents are young enough to start up a new family. I wonder, too, whether you can judge their professional performance by their private life.’
Laure: ‘I think the French stereotype of easy women and lots of affairs gets confirmed again and again by this sort of thing, and that frustrates me. When you go abroad as a French female student, you run up against this too. Some men think they can do anything they like with you. The first French sentence a lot of people learn is voulez-vous coucher avec moi. But we are not all like that; everyone has their own personal values. And I do think we could be prouder of France, and show a little bit more nationalism. Hollande does not make that any easier.’
Pseudonyms have been used at the request of the interviewees.