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France's first lady leaves hospital after week of rest following report of presidential affair

PARIS - France's first lady on Saturday ended a more than weeklong stay at a hospital where she went to rest after a gossip magazine's report about an alleged affair between President Francois Hollande and an actress.

Hours after Valerie Trierweiler left a Paris hospital, she thanked her supporters.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who sent messages of support and recovery" by email or social media, Trierweiler tweeted. "Very touched."

A member of Trierweiler's entourage confirmed numerous French media reports that she left La Pitie-Salpetriere hospital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Trierweiler's destination couldn't immediately be confirmed, but Paris Match magazine, for whom she worked for years as a journalist, reported that she was resting at an official residence in Versailles, west of Paris.

Trierweiler, 48, was hospitalized Jan. 10, adding a new dimension to the unpopular president's troubles, which erupted after Closer magazine reported that Hollande was seeing actress Julie Gayet.

The magazine published photos showing a man it said was the president, wearing a helmet and seated on the back of a scooter, allegedly being taken to a rendezvous with Gayet. Trierweiler, whom Hollande has never married, was hospitalized the following day.

Hollande spent Saturday in the rural central region of Correze, calling in a speech for national unity. He didn't mention his private life.

Hollande had acknowledged at a major news conference last Tuesday "painful moments" in his relationship with Trierweiler. He said he would clarify his domestic situation before a Feb. 11 state visit to Washington, when Trierweiler would normally accompany him.

Hollande visited Trierweiler at the hospital Thursday evening, his only visit there.

The president has mostly dodged journalists' questions about his situation, invoking his desire for respect for his private life — a French tradition that is gradually falling away.

The Socialist president broke new ground on the presidential domestic scene upon his election in 2012, becoming the first French leader to arrive in office unmarried and with a live-in companion. Trierweiler hasn't won the hearts of the French as first lady, and took time to actively grow into the role.

The couple has lived together since 2007, after Hollande ended his longstanding relationship with Segolene Royal, with whom he has four children. Hollande and Royal, the Socialist Party's unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2007, never married.

Like his predecessor, conservative rival Nicolas Sarkozy, Hollande hasn't taken up residence in the apartments of the Elysee Palace, using it simply for official business.

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