Julie Gayet, 41, who is alleged to be having an affair with French President Francois Hollande, is a discreet but active actress, who has performed in 70 films ranging from romantic comedy through thrillers to drama.
Slender, with chestnut-blonde hair, a ready smile and delicate features, the cultured actress is also a well-known face on television.
A magazine, Closer, reported Friday that Hollande routinely hops on a scooter to spend the night with Gayet, and has his bodyguard deliver croissants to them in the morning.
Closer's Friday edition carried a seven-page spread on the 59-year-old president's alleged infidelity under the headline "Francois Hollande and Julie Gayet -- the president's secret love".
Hollande's acquaintanceship with Gayet can be traced to at least back 2012, when she campaigned for him ahead of the presidential election which brought him to power.
She featured in a campaign clip in which she described Hollande as a "humble", "fantastic" man "who is really tuned in".
Energetic and headstrong, Gayet also recently campaigned in favour of gay marriage, one of Hollande's more socially divisive commitments.
Born in the upmarket Paris suburb of Suresnes on June 3, 1972, Gayet trained as an actress in parallel with studies in art history.
After an internship in London with Jack Waltzer of the Actors Studio, she studied at the Fratellini circus school and trained in classical singing.
She started her cinema career in 1993, appearing in Konstantinos Costa-Gavras's "Little Apocalypse" and Krysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colours: Blue", and went on to feature in films by Antoine Desrosieres and Agnes Varda.
But it was a 1996 comedy, "Delphine 1, Yvan 0" by Dominique Farrugia, which recounts the story of a couple against the background of a sports commentary, that really made her well-known in France.
She followed that up with "Select Hotel" by Laurent Bouhnik, playing a young drug-addicted prostitute, a role which won her the Romy-Schneider prize in 1997.
She can currently be seen in "Les Ames de Papier" (Paper Souls) by Belgian director Vincent Lannoo
Daring when taking on projects, and both curious and diligent, Gayet likes to take on different perspectives.
"What I like about this profession is to enter into different worlds," she said in 2002.
In 2007 she decided to broaden her horizons, opening a small production company, producing among other films "Fix me" by Palestinian Raed Andoni and "Bonsai" by Chile's Cristian Jimenez.
She described it as a "logical follow up" to her work as an actress.
Then in 2013 she went into direction, co-directing a documentary on filmmakers.
Gayet is mother to two adolescents from her union with the Argentinian writer and scriptwriter Santiago Amigorena, whom she married in the early 2000s. They have since separated.