When Sandrine, a Parisian estate agent, married Marcel, a retired farmer, last Saturday, much of the village of Puy Saint Pierre turned up shout insults. “There was almost a brawl,” said the mayor, who was officiating.
Marcel Amphoux, 67, owns several undeveloped properties close to the ski resort of Serre-Chevalier. Sandrine Devillard, 42, is a striking blonde from Paris who runs four businesses, including an estate agency.
Sandrine says they met “on holiday” and fell in love. Marcel’s neighbours say she tried to buy his land and, when he declined, courted him with trips to restaurants and seaside. They say he is a “marginal” and eccentric bachelor, who was forced by the veterinary authorities to give up farming 20 years ago. Sandrine says Marcel’s good nature has long been abused by local people, some of whom live in his properties for free.
The villagers say Sandrine has already approached her future husband’s tenants and warned them that they will be evicted. If developed into ski chalets or flats, the villagers point out, Marcel’s properties could be worth a fortune.
In an interview with Le Parisien yesterday, Sandrine said: “We are on honeymoon. We are in love. Full stop. Isn’t that right Marcel?” “Yes, yes,” said Marcel.