Mumbai: Valerie Trierweiler, the ex-partner of French President Francois Hollande, arrived in India Monday on a charity mission despite an announcement two days earlier that the couple have split.
Trierweiler will promote a French charity in the financial hub Mumbai during the two-day trip, in her first public appearance since it emerged that Hollande was having an affair with a French actress.
She arrived at Mumbai international airport on an Air France flight just after midnight from Paris for the mission organised by Action Against Hunger (Action Contre la Faim, ACF), despite no longer being France`s first lady.
Trierweiler, wearing a navy coat, did not speak with some 50 media gathered, and instead walked from the terminal building to a waiting car which was expected to take her to the luxury Taj Mahal hotel, an AFP reporter said.
Her entourage said she was accompanied on her India trip by a presidential bodyguard. A source close to her said: "She is on good terms with the president and she is better."
Hollande, 59, told AFP on Saturday he has split with longstanding partner Trierweiler, 48, after press revelations two weeks ago of his affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.
Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week after news broke of Hollande`s involvement with Gayet, and she had since then been holed up in a presidential retreat outside Paris.
Trierweiler, who was treated in hospital for a bout of "tiredness" brought on by the scandal, had been invited to India in her official capacity, ACF has said.
An ACF official told AFP before she left Paris that "there is no doubt about her coming" to Mumbai, adding that the charity was however "working on different assumptions" -- meaning her schedule in India may change.
The charity is paying for the long-planned trip, which is financed mostly by private Indian partners.
In Mumbai Trierweiler will visit a hospital where ACF has a feeding project for malnourished children and witness a training programme for medical staff, the charity has said.
She will lunch with the wives of top local businessmen and attend a charity gala dinner at the Taj hotel where she is staying.
The dinner has been organised to promote ACF`s local charity partner Fight Hunger Foundation, with Trierweiler the guest of honour and whose sponsors include Moet and Chandon.
She will be shown around the city by French actress Charlotte Valandrey, who is involved in the cause of promoting organ donations and transplants.
A champion of children`s rights
The visit is expected to generate intense press interest given the scandal and her refusal so far to speak about it. A press conference is planned for Monday but Trierweiler herself may not address the media, ACF has said.
Trierweiler visited India in February last year when, accompanied by the president, she visited a shelter for street children in New Delhi and spoke of her desire to become a champion of children`s rights.
India at the time decided to treat Trierweiler as if she were Hollande`s wife, resolving a potential protocol headache in the conservative country.
Trierweiler is a glamorous, twice-divorced career journalist who has three children of her own and had been Hollande`s partner for eight years.
Although she was not married to Hollande, she assumed the role of first lady at official functions after he was elected president in May, 2012.
Hollande has not denied an affair with Gayet but has so far steadfastly refused to answer questions about his love life.
On Sunday several thousand people marched through Paris to rally against a slew of policies under Hollande -- the most unpopular French president of modern times -- such as last year`s law allowing gay marriage.
The `Day of Anger`, which ended in clashes between police and protesters, also saw many in the crowd complain about his tangled love life.
"There are enough scandals about the president, he is bringing dishonour to France," a 60-year-old woman who only identified herself as Marion, told AFP.