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French First Lady Julie Gayet Breaks Silence, Poses For Magazines

PARIS — Breaking more than two years of public silence, actress Julie Gayet, the long presumed companion of French President Francois Hollande, appears on two major French magazine covers this week.

Gayet has guarded her privacy after her affair with the French President was revealed in January 2014 in a gossip magazine while Hollande was still living with another woman. Gayet and Hollande have still never appeared together in public.

"Julie Gayet will play her part. Free and committed to the president," reads Thursday's cover of French weekly Paris Match. The magazine, which features a major photo spread of the 44-year-old actress-producer, quotes her confidantes confirming that she wants to take on an "official" role alongside Hollande.

Gayet also gave an interview to the weekly magazine insert of Le Parisiendaily. The media availability was ostensibly to promote Gayet's new campaign against sexism. But French political observers note the choice to speak to the press may indicate that she is set to take on the "first lady" role for Hollande, who is suffering dismal approval ratings ahead of his expected campaign for reelection early next year.

The Hollande-Gayet affair was revealed by Closer magazine, which published a photo of the black-helmeted president arriving for a tryst with his mistress on a scooter. At the time, he was still living with his longtime partner, French journalist Valérie Trierweiler.

Hollande has four children with former presidential candidate and current Minister for the Environment Ségolène Royal.

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