In Depth

Valerie Trierweiler, a match for Carla as France's first lady

Francois Hollande's 'companion' will make headlines like Bruni - but for different reasons

Valerie Trierweiler, Francois Hollande companion

SHE MIGHT not be Carla Bruni, but France's new first lady, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, could generate just as many headlines as the woman she inherits the role from.

The glamorous 47-year-old journalist is well known in France thanks to her job as a writer for magazine Paris Match and a politics presenter on cable TV, and she has no plans to take a back seat now that her partner Francois Hollande is running the country.

Known in some quarters as 'The Rottweiler', Trierweiler is not a woman to be trifled with. Indeed, many believe that it is her influence that has turned Francois Hollande from an overweight also-ran with a reputation as a bumbler to the new leader of France.

But it's not just his image she has helped with: some believe that she has made a difference politically as well. Earlier this year The Sunday Times reported: "Trierweiler has been given an office with her name on the door at campaign headquarters and staff have learnt that it is wise to consult her before making decisions."

But she has made it clear that she has no intention of giving up her career to support her man now he is in power. Indeed, Trierweiler, a twice-divorced mother of three from a modest background in eastern France, says she will carry on working partly because she does not want to be paid for by the state.

She switched from writing about politics to culture early in the campaign to avoid a conflict of interest, reports The Guardian, but it adds: "She was furious when Paris Match put her on its cover under the headline 'Hollande's charming asset'."

She and Hollande may not be as shocking a match as former president Nicolas Sarkozy and supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni, who married after he assumed office, but they do have quite a history. Trierweiler replaced Segolene Royal in Hollande's affections sometime in the last decade, but they were only outed as a couple in 2010.

Hollande and Royal, who had been together 30 years, were supposedly still an item during the 2007 election campaign, when Royal was the socialist candidate, but their split was announced soon after. It was later claimed that he and Trierweiler first got together in 2005.

Hollande has also dismissed the idea of a quick marriage, a la Sarkozy, now that he is president. "You do not get married just for reasons of protocol," he said during the campaign. Trierweiler also insists on being called Hollande's "companion" rather than his partner.

As the Sydney Morning Herald notes: "All of which makes this relationship an interesting milestone in the evolution of French attitudes to the sex lives of politicians."

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