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Ex-first lady depicts unpopular French president as cruel and dishonest in new book

French President Francois Hollande holds a phone at the start of a NATO-Afghanistan round table meeting in Newport, Wales on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Dunham

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French President Francois Hollande holds a phone at the start of a NATO-Afghanistan round table meeting in Newport, Wales on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Dunham

PARIS - Ah, beware the writings of a betrayed woman.

Valerie Trierweiler, France's first lady until earlier this year, paints a harsh portrait of her former partner, the deeply unpopular President Francois Hollande, in her new book.

Being described as a mean liar who perpetuates a "cycle of infidelity" and despises the poor surely can't help the image of the Socialist leader.

The couple broke up in January amid reports Hollande was having an affair with French actress Julie Gayet, which he did not deny. "Private affairs should be handled privately," Hollande said at the time.

In her 320-page "Thank You for this Moment" published Thursday, Trierweiler describes her relationship with Hollande in sharp and biting detail, from their first kiss to their breakup after the Gayet affair emerged.

It is the most elaborate and public account yet of the president's alleged infidelities — a bombshell in a country where politicians' private lives used to be just that.

Hollande's office declined to comment.

According to Trierweiler, the relationship was born of infidelity and died from it.

They almost tied the knot: Trierweiler wrote that he proposed in September 2012 and they planned a private wedding just before Christmas. With about a month to go, Hollande abruptly called off those plans, she wrote.

"Julie Gayet was already in his life, but I didn't know," wrote Trierweiler, a longtime journalist with Paris Match magazine.

When Trierweiler fell in love with Hollande, the mother of three was married, and he was the longtime partner of Segolene Royal, also a Socialist politician, and father of their four children. Hollande and Royal split in 2007, two years after his affair with Trierweiler began.

Trierweiler lamented that she has been seen by many as the destroyer of the "mythic couple" of French politics: Royal was the Socialist nominee in the 2007 presidential race, but lost. "I appear to everybody as the temptress, the mean one, the home breaker," Trierweiler wrote.

Trierweiler wrote that she discovered his tryst with Gayet just days before gossip magazine Closer published photos of him in a motorcycle helmet reportedly going to a secret rendezvous with the actress. Trierweiler confronted him about it and she was later hospitalized for about a week.

Somewhat unexpectedly for a politician who years ago quipped about his dislike of rich people, Trierweiler wrote that Hollande "doesn't like the poor" and once disdainfully referred to them as "toothless."

Royal — the ecology and energy minister now in Hollande's Socialist Cabinet — defended him Thursday, telling BFM-TV that he was an ardent defender of the poor while he was a regional governor years ago.

As several Paris booksellers reported brisk sales, some shoppers bemoaned the book's unflattering revelations.

"Surely it gives a deplorable image of our president," Jean-Pierre Geoffroy told The Associated Press in a Paris bookstore. "It's vengeance and it's not very honourable of her."

___

Louise Dewast contributed from Paris.

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