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L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

January 15, 2014 08:49 IST

L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

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The French have their own ways of keeping the world entertained.

This week, French President Francois Hollande has been providing racy headlines to the media with allegations of an affair with actress Julie Gayet putting his personal life in a tizzy.

Hollande's woes began on last Friday when a celebrity magazine published a seven-page ‘special report’ complete with photographs of the president, 59, crossing Paris on the back of a scooter, apparently to rendezvous with the 41-year-old actress.

The photos in Closer magazine were said to show the president being taken to an apartment in Paris' chic 8th arrondissement, where he allegedly stayed the night. Other photos show the president's bodyguard delivering croissants the following morning.

While a shocked Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande's unmarried partner and 'First Lady', ended up on the hospital bed following the media reports, the French president's already-terrible rating too plummeted.

Valerie, a divorced mother of three, is the first presidential partner to enter the Elysee Palace unmarried. Before she came into the picture, Hollande had a decades-long relationship with the Socialist politician Segolene Royale, with whom he had four children.

Hollande is not the first French politician to have been involved in scandals involving women. 

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Image: (Left)French actress Julie Gayet (Right) Valerie Trierweiler
Photographs: Reuters

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L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

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Dominique Strauss Kahn, once tipped to become French president, was forced to stand down as chief of the International Monetary Fund following a series of allegations made against him.

In 2011, a maid at a New York hotel accused Strauss-Kahn of forcing her to perform oral sex and trying to rape her after she arrived to clean his suite, causing her to tear a ligament in her shoulder.

Criminal charges were eventually dropped after he subsequently reached a settlement in a civil case brought by the maid.

In March 2012, more charges surfaced that Strauss-Kahn, who has since separated from his wife, and several other influential Frenchmen held organised sex parties around the world, using the Carlton Hotel in Lille, France, as their base of operations. He has denied the allegations.

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Image: (Left) Dominique Strauss Kahn
Photographs: Reuters

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L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

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Former French president Francois Mitterrand may arguably be the most successful left-wing leader that western Europe ever saw, yet his extraordinary catalogue of personal cover-ups was not revealed publicly until near the end of his life.

While his wife, Danielle, and their two sons were his public family, they coexisted with a secret second family of his mistress, Anne Pingeot, (who was 27 years younger than him) and their daughter Mazarine.

Mitterrand used to shuttle between the two lives in Paris and the country, again unknown to the public until the end of his presidency.

At his funeral in 1996, both Pingeot and Mazarine attended alongside Mitterrand's wife, Danielle, and their two sons.

Ironically, Sebastien Valiela, the photographer who put an end to Mitterrand's secret life twenty years ago by capturing the Socialist leader emerging from a restaurant with the daughter he had never acknowledged, was also the one to put current president Hollande into trouble

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Image: This 1996 photograph shows the Mitterrand family standing before the flag-draped coffin of former French President Francois Mitterrand during funeral ceremonies in Jarnac. L-R are: Grand-daughters Justine and Pascale, wife Danielle, son Jean-Christophe , daughter (out of wedlock) Mazarine, Mazarine's mother Anne Pingeot and other son Gilbert. At rear (with hat) behind Danielle Mitterrand is brother Robert Mitterrand
Photographs: Reuters

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L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

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From sleaze scandals to charity fund bungling to the image of 'President of the rich', Nicholas Sarkozy inspired little confidence in the financial depression-hit country

Sarkozy divorced his second wife Cecilia a few months after taking office, and was subsequently seen at Disneyland Paris with former model Carla Bruni.

Widely-covered trips by the couple to Egypt and Jordan followed, and in January 2008, Sarkozy told a press conference "with Carla, it is serious."

Sarkozy's fast-track romance and trips in private jets to exotic locations with his new love were viewed with anger at a time of economic turmoil in France.

Recently, Sarkozy has not been active in frontline French politics since losing the 2012 presidential election to Francois Hollande. He is, however, being widely tipped to make a comeback in time for another run at the presidency in 2017.

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Image: France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy kisses the shoulder of his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
Photographs: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

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L'affaire indecent: Sex scandals of the French elite

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The worst scandal of sorts was exposed in 1959.

Widely identified as the Ballets Roses scandal, this 20th century controversy involved the performance of young girl’s aged 15 to 17 in ballets at politicians’ homes which ended in orgies.

The scandal came to light after mothers of four teenage girls became suspicious of their daughters' 'ballet' activities.

Andre Le Troquer, who was the president of France's National Assembly, was implicated in the scandal and charged with "offences against morality".

The accusation brought about an end to his political career.

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Image: Image used for representation purposes only
Photographs: Reuters

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Felix Faure, who was president from 1895-1899, was said to have died in bed with his mistress Marguerite Steinheil at the ElyseePalace.

On that fateful day on 16 February 1899, Steinheil and Faure were alone in the drawing room of the presidential palace, when the president’s aides heard screams.

They rushed to the president’s rescue and found Steinheil shrieking as the president lay suffocating on the sofa.

Faure, who was later diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, died that same evening.

It was only a matter of hours before the whole of France was awash with rumours of the president dying in the arms of his mistress.


Image: French President Felix Faure
Photographs: Wikicommons/Le Petit journal

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