At least a dozen staff working at the Elysée Palace are currently under suspicion of having taken the photos which were published in a special edition of French gossip magazine Voici on Friday.
Although Voici has vigorously denied claims that the photos – dating from October and showing Hollande and Gayet chatting with each other on the Elysée Palace terrace – were taken inside the presidential grounds, Hollande and his security team appear convinced that it was an inside job.
Or at the very least carried out by someone who had access to the president’s private apartments.
“There are only two places from the outside where such a photo could have been taken,” paparazzi photographer Pascal Rostaing told France's Journal du Dimanche. But “it would be impossible while the trees still have leaves on them.”
Speaking to The Local, Voici’s Deputy Editor Fabrice Argelas would not reveal the identity of its mystery photographer, or whether the snaps were taken inside or outside the presidential residence, but said the magazine had never ordered anyone to take them.
“Let’s just say somebody approached us with them,” he said. “Obviously I can’t say anything about the location they were taken from or how.”
Argelas added, however, that the magazine has “several sources” when it comes to covering the Hollande-Gayet romance.
“We know for example that she (Gayet) is there more and more often,” he said of the actress’s increasingly frequent visits to the Elysée Palace.
“In the beginning she would come there about once a week and leave very early in the morning, at around 7am or so, to avoid the photographers. But now she’s there 3-4 times a week and leaves a lot later, at 9 am or 10 am.”
“She’s starting to feel comfortable in this villa,” he Argelas said. “She’s not hiding as much in the hallways as she used to.”
Although Gayet has already demonstrated that she is ready to sue over privacy infringements – in September she won a privacy suit against Closer for being snapped in her car – Argelas said Voici isn’t too concerned whether the actress will choose to launch a legal process.
“I don’t know (if she will). We’re waiting. We’ll see," he said.
Argelas said the publishing of the photos had been received even better than expected by the magazine's readership, but that it was too early to tell whether they had created a jump in sales.
“We will know in about a week.”
by Louise Nordstrom