PARIS — President Francois Hollande agreed to take a question Saturday about a family feud that has turned his ultra-discreet image on its head, saying he still hopes to keep his private life private.
Midway through a nationally televised interview on tradition-steeped Bastille Day, reporters asked for his reaction to ‘‘tweetgate,’’ as the feud is known.
Hollande answered but shut down the discussion. He said he intended to keep his public and private lives separate and has asked those close to him to do the same.
‘‘I am for a clear distinction between public life and private life, and so I consider that private affairs should be sorted out in private,’’ he said in the interview.
But extensive media attention given to the scandal suggests that it may be too late to put the genie back in the bottle. Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in May’s presidential election in large part because French voters grew tired of Sarkozy’s very public private life, political pundits have said.
The scandal began with a tweet sent out by Hollande’s live-in companion Valerie Trierweiler during last month’s legislative elections. The message expressed support for the political opponent of his former partner Segolene Royal, the mother of the president’s four children, who was defeated in her bid for a parliamentary seat.
Widely criticized as a vindictive move, the tweet went viral and dominated news shows. The action angered Hollande and his children, who are now engaged in damage control.
Since the scandal broke, Trierweiler has been spotted by the side of Hollande in a clear show of unity. Hollande allowed diners to take photographs during a dinner with her at a Paris restaurant on Wednesday night.
Trierweiler was also accompanying the president in engagements this weekend and next week. On Saturday, she was in the front row of a grandstand set up to watch the Bastille Day military parade, though, like the companions of other French dignitaries, she did not sit next to her partner.
Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution
Military jets opened the parade, which included military units, tanks, bagpipes, dressage, and the Marseillaise. Jumpers with tricolor parachutes ended the parade, thumping down on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysees.