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Actress Julie Gayet appears at event attended by Hollande

French actress Julie Gayet arrives at the Mont-Valérien to attend a ceremony marking 75 years since General de Gaulle's call to arms.
French actress Julie Gayet arrives at the Mont-Valérien to attend a ceremony marking 75 years since General de Gaulle's call to arms. Thomas Samson, AFP

French actress Julie Gayet made her first appearance at an official event attended by President Francois Hollande on Thursday, fuelling speculation that she is being gradually introduced as the nation's new first lady.

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Gayet, 43, has kept a low profile since reports of her affair with the French president in January 2014 led to Hollande’s dramatic break-up with his long-time girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler.

On Thursday she attended a ceremony at the Mont-Valérien, on the western fringes of Paris, marking the 75th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s historic radio address from London in which he urged French citizens to resist German occupation.

Arriving shortly before the French president, Gayet was seen pushing the wheelchair of her grandfather Alain Gayet, a decorated hero of the French resistance.

She then stayed discreetly at the back throughout the ceremony as Hollande shook hands with the former resistance fighters.

The presidency insisted it was a coincidence that Gayet was at the event. "There was no strategy on our part," an advisor to Hollande said, saying the actress attended the ceremony in her capacity as the granddaughter of a decorated resistance fighter.

‘Into the light’

The surprise appearance came as society magazine Paris Match splashed the headline "Julie Gayet comes into the light" on its front cover, reporting Thursday that the actress is set to "enter her new role little by little" as Hollande's official partner.

In April, celebrity magazine Voici printed snaps of the two walking together at La Lanterne, the president's residence at Versailles outside Paris, alongside some old friends of Hollande.

The same magazine had in November published pictures of the two looking cosy together inside the Elysée presidential residence, prompting five staff members to be reassigned over what constituted a damaging security breach.

Hollande has neither confirmed nor denied his relationship with Gayet amid huge speculation in the tabloids, saying merely that he has a right to have his privacy respected.

Paparazzi photos in January 2014 of Hollande in a scooter helmet, visiting Gayet at a Paris apartment, set off an international media firestorm.

Trierweiler, a journalist, published a bestselling tell-all memoir of their subsequent break-up, portraying the president as a cold-hearted egotist.

The president has four children with another former partner, the current Ecology Minister Segolene Royal.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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