Bizarre Love Triangle Adds Awkward Twist To French State Visit

Pete Souza/The White House

Guess who's not coming to dinner at the White House this week.

French President Francois Hollande is in Washington, D.C., for a rare state visit - just the seventh of the Obama presidency - but the woman who was supposed to be by his side over the next two days won't be anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

That's because, in the less-than-three-months since the state visit was announced, Hollande split with his longtime partner, Valerie Trierweiler, after allegedly becoming entangled in an affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

For those who haven't been following what has been dubbed "L'Affaire Hollande," here's everything you need to know:

Back in November, the White House was all set to welcome President Hollande and Trierweiler, even sending out this press release noting Trierweiler's attendance.


Office of the Press Secretary


November 22, 2013

Statement by the President on the State Visit by President Hollande of France

Michelle and I look forward to welcoming President Hollande and Valérie Trierweiler on a state visit to the United States, to include a state dinner at the White House on February 11, 2014. The United States and France are close friends and allies, including through NATO, and our countries have worked together to support democracy, liberty, and freedom at home and abroad for more than two centuries. During the visit, we will discuss opportunities to further strengthen the U.S.-France security and economic partnership.

But then came the rumors, headlines, and photos. Hollande, 59, was suspected of having an affair with Gayet, 41.

The shock of it all was said to be too much for Trierweiler, who ended up in the hospital in mid-January.

And a little more than a week later, Hollande and Trierweiler were history - officially.

"I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler," Hollande told a reporter for Agence France Presse in a phone call.

Trierweiler said goodbye to her life as the de facto French first lady. (Translation: "I extend all my gratitude to the fantastic Elysee staff. I will never forget their dedication nor the emotional farewell.")

Meanwhile, according to The New York Times' Peter Baker, the White House was scrambling behind the scenes to keep up with the French president's love life.

"The thick ivory invitations with the words 'The President and Mrs. Obama request the pleasure of' each guest's company had to be destroyed and new ones printed without Ms. Trierweiler's name. … For a few days, at least, the White House social office was left to wonder whether the other woman - identified by the weekly tabloid Closer as a 41-year-old French actress - would come in place of Ms. Trierweiler. (She will not.)"

And, according to The Times, there are more questions than answers about matters of protocol.

"There will be no traditional coffee or tea for the spouse with Michelle Obama, and the American first lady will have no one to escort to a local school as she has done with previous counterparts. The turn of events in the private life of Mr. Hollande, 59, posed a number of questions for the White House as well: Who should be placed next to the president in the seat Ms. Trierweiler would have occupied? Would any of the entertainment be inappropriate? Should there be dancing if the romantically complicated guest of honor has no one to dance with?"

But with or without a date, Hollande is set to arrive in Washington Monday afternoon and appears ready for his visit, which will also take him to California to meet with Silicon Valley tech executives later in the week.

And the White House is not letting Hollande's romantic dalliances get in the way of diplomacy. The two presidents penned a joint Op-Ed article about the French-American partnership that ran in the Washington Post and France's Le Monde on Monday.