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French ex-first lady: 'I don't regret a thing'

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PARIS (AP) — "Je ne regrette rien." ("I don't regret a thing.")

That's what France's former first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, told the weekly Paris-Match amid the drama of being dumped by French President Francois Hollande for a younger actress.

Trierweiler and Hollande seem to be keeping things civilized, though. Since the president announced their split over the weekend, they have apparently continued to talk and text.

Trierweiler, speaking to journalists on a trip to India this week, described for the first time some of what led to their breakup. She seemed to be trying to smooth over her reputation and win sympathy from the French, who have seen her as aloof and manipulative and never really warmed to her.

Trierweiler blamed the deterioration in their relationship on Hollande's ascent to the presidency, the country's macho political culture and the shock of learning about his affair with French actress Julie Gayet.

Trierweiler told Paris-Match, where she long worked as a journalist, that she didn't believe rumors about the affair until the gossip magazine Closer reported it earlier this month.

"When I found out, it was like I had fallen from a skyscraper," she is quoted as saying.

Trierweiler fainted at the news, Paris-Match reported, then was hospitalized for a week.

In India, she appeared tired but calm and ready to move on with her life.

"It's clear that we would be together if he were not president," she told The Associated Press and other journalists in Mumbai.

She expressed "immense disappointment" in France's political world, calling it "extremely macho" and political journalism "disgusting." She herself was a political journalist before becoming first lady.

Still, she said she's "not at war" with Hollande.

Her aides said the two spoke regularly on the phone during her India trip. She told Le Parisien that she and Hollande exchanged text messages "because he was worried about the organization of the trip and my health."

She said life in the Elysee Palace had been hard for her three children from a previous marriage. She insisted to Le Parisien that she was not a "princess" and described to Paris-Match her life growing up in public housing.

She said the "detachment" between her and Hollande began a while ago but admitted she wasn't prepared for a breakup, according to Paris-Match.

Trierweiler came under some criticism for her reaction to the affair, for not quietly shrugging it off as something that French leaders do. But that attitude toward her may be changing.

Parisian Christopher Neill, 64, said Thursday that she's "very courageous."

Youssef Eddajibi, a 19-year-old from the Paris suburb of Stains, said Hollande's behavior was "unacceptable. Also, half of the French population knows about it, which makes Valerie's life even harder."

Trierweiler says she'll now move back into her Paris apartment, which she and Hollande shared before and during the beginning of his presidency.

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Milos Krivokapic reported from Mumbai, India, and Bastien Innzauralde reported from Paris.

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