Listen, we know Danny Dyer is playing a blinder on Eastenders and that Hayley and Roy AKA Modern Love just broke our hearts over on the Street. But the only soap opera we’ve been glued to has been taking place in the streets of Paris and involves a President who looks like your friend’s dad, a ball-busting journalist turned Professional Wife, and a very Gallic actress with a penchant for Saint Laurent smoking jackets. Palais de l’Élysée has been the must-watch show on the continent this past month.
A synopsis: French gossip magazine Closer, who you might remember from those invasive Kate Middleton holiday snaps, hit the international media yet again with photographs of the French president François Hollande visiting the apartment of his actress lover, Julie Gayet. He was seen alighting from his moped outside her pied-a-terre door just hundreds of metres from his home, where Valérie Trierweiler, his then-partner and official First Lady, was waiting at home.
Following the publication of the story former journalist Trierweiler was so stressed she spent 8 days in a Parisian hospital while the rest of the world looked on bemusedly at Hollande’s ‘bachelor president’ act.
Ms. Trierweiler was ‘fired’ by Hollande via an 18-word statement last Saturday. She is currently in India visiting the slums of Mumbai as part of her last official engagement and has ambitions to become a humanitarian ambassador. For more see The Princess Diana Divorce Playbook. The alleged mistress of the triangle, Gayet, has maintained her distance and silence. Authorities have dismissed rumours that Trierweiler trashed Hollande’s office causing €3 millions worth of damage. The question on everyone’s lips is when will we see Kirsten Scott-Thomas headlining this at the Cannes Film Festival?
When one juxtaposes this very old-fashioned rupture with what is actually happening in France’s national parliament you can’t help but be intrigued at the goings-on across the Channel.
At the moment the French national parliament is debating a bill that will implement the most wide-ranging gender equality measures seen in Europe in recent times. Should it be passed there will be a ban on child beauty pageants, more supports for single mothers, improved laws relating to domestic violence, moves to increase women’s representation in politics, measures to grant women wage parity with male workers and increased opportunities for paternity leave.
January 22nd also saw an amendment to France’s abortion laws, which means that women seeking a termination within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy no longer have to justify their decision. Minister for women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, said that the liberalization was necessary, especially in light of Spain’s recent tightening of early abortion access.
The bill is also seeking to restrain the media broadcasting and publishing sexist and demeaning images of women. We wonder how Closer are coping with that last measure?
Meanwhile, we’re waiting to see who Hollande brings to dinner with the Obamas next month during his highly-publicised US visit.
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun