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France's former first lady en route to India after split

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
updated 1:29 PM EST, Sun January 26, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Valerie Trierweiler leaves Paris for India in honor of an anti-hunger charity
  • Hollande declared relationship over on Saturday
  • Trierweiler sent farewell message to Elysee staff
  • Allegations about Hollande's personal life fueled a media frenzy

(CNN) -- A day after parting ways with President Francois Hollande, France's former first lady discreetly left Paris for India on Sunday to support a nonprofit organization, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

Valerie Trierweiler boarded an Air France flight to Mumbai with an entourage that included her friend actress Charlotte Valandrey, BFMTV reported from the French capital's Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Valandrey told BFMTV that Trierweiler "was very happy to leave for that mission to save children in India. ... She is a strong woman with a heart ... someone who can be counted on and who is engaged in a humanitarian cause."

The former first lady is lending her support to the Action Against Hunger charity in India, in a trip that has been in the works for months. While there, her schedule will include attending a charity gala dinner, Action Against Hunger said on its website.

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It will be her first public appearance since a media storm over Hollande's alleged affair with an actress erupted this month.

French president says it's over

Goodbye message

Hollande declared his relationship with Trierweiler over on Saturday.

"I wish to make it known that I have ended my shared life (partnership) with Valerie Trierweiler," Hollande told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Trierweiler sent a goodbye message Saturday via Twitter to the staff at the presidential palace.

"All my gratitude goes to the extraordinary people at the Elysee. I will never forget the devotion or emotion at the time of leaving," she wrote.

Hollande's private life has been the subject of global headlines since the French magazine Closer claimed this month he'd been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet for two years.

Speculation about the split swirled Saturday after a French national weekly reported Hollande was expected to announce his separation from Trierweiler later in the day.

But the French presidency initially denied the report that an announcement would be made. "It is a rumor that circulated on the Internet today. There is absolutely no confirmation of the publication of a statement today," the palace press officer told CNN.

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Hollande has not confirmed or denied the alleged affair but did threaten legal action. At his first news conference of the year, Hollande said he and Trierweiler were going through "painful moments."

The allegations had left Trierweiler's position in some doubt ahead of a planned trip to Washington in February.

She had been Hollande's partner for several years. An arts columnist for weekly magazine Paris Match, she was not married to Hollande but assumed the role of first lady at official functions following his election in May 2012.

Last weekend, Trierweiler left the hospital where she had spent a week being treated for stress and fatigue, Paris Match reported. The magazine also said she would recover for "several days" in an official residence in Versailles.

Hollande, 59, has seen his personal approval ratings plummet since his election, although this has been attributed to dissatisfaction with his leadership rather than disapproval of his private life.

A recent survey by French pollster Ifop with the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche found that more than 80% of respondents had not changed their opinion of the President based on the allegations of an affair.

Hollande has four children from a previous relationship with Segolene Royal, a senior member of his Socialist Party and a 2007 presidential candidate. Royal announced their separation just after she lost the 2007 election to Nicolas Sarkozy.

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CNN's Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report

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