Paris - France's former first lady on Wednesday broke her silence over the tempestuous end of her relationship with President Francois Hollande, detailing her horrified reaction to the news he was having an affair.
In a kiss-and-tell memoir written in secret and due to be published on Thursday, Valerie Trierweiler spills the beans on her relationship with Hollande and the painful and sudden break-up in January after a magazine revealed his sensational affair with actress Julie Gayet.
“Everything I write is true,” she says on the cover of the book, called Thank You For This Moment, which is set to do little to improve the image of Hollande, already France's least popular president in history, according to opinion polls.
In extracts released on Wednesday by glossy magazine Paris-Match, the 49-year-old former journalist details the bust-up in the presidential bedroom when she realised she had been cheated.
“The information on Julie Gayet is the top headline in the dailies... I crack up. I don't want to hear that, I rush into the bathroom. I grab the little plastic bag with the sleeping pills,” she recounts in an episode run in the magazine.
“Francois follows me. He tries to snatch the bag. The pills spill over the bed and on the ground... I swallow what I can. I want to sleep. I don't want to live through the coming hours.
“I feel the storm about to break over me and I don't have the strength to resist. I want to flee. I lost consciousness,” she continues.
The 320-page book “is a cry of love as well as a slow descent into hell, a plunge into the intimacy of a couple... two people and nothing more: Valerie and Francois”, the weekly writes.
Hollande's office said it was “not aware” of the book's publication. “So by definition we have not read this book,” a source close to Hollande told AFP.
The journalist met Hollande in the mid-2000s while he was in a relationship with Segolene Royal - herself a former presidential candidate - and the pair began a secret liaison.
Hollande subsequently left Royal, the mother of his four children, for Trierweiler who became the de facto first lady of France after he was elected in 2012, despite the fact the pair were not married.
News of his affair with 42-year-old Gayet caused shockwaves in France in January, and Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week after Closer published pictures of Hollande arriving for secret trysts with the actress at a borrowed flat.
Hollande then announced his relationship with Trierweiler was over in an 18-word statement that was devoid of regret or remorse for the woman he had described as “the love of my life” in 2010.
“Eighteen words is almost one word for each month we spent together since he was elected,” Trierweiler told Le Parisien daily in January, describing herself as “more disappointed than hurt”.
According to Paris-Match, this is the first time that a former first lady “really tells the story of nine years of a relationship eroded by jealousy and power... A story of love... and despair.”
The weekly describes Trierweiler as a “passionate lover, possessive, mad about this man whom she admires, who makes her laugh and delightfully destabilises her”.
The book could prove an embarrassment for Hollande, whose approval ratings are at a record low.
The memoir will not be the first by a former first lady.
Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia Attias, who was a key advisor in his successful 2007 campaign but divorced him soon after, also published an autobiography last year, which sold tens of thousands of copies. - AFP