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Villagers revolt against unlikely marriage

Matthew Warren · 9 Sep 2011, 12:12

Published: 09 Sep 2011 12:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Sep 2011 12:12 GMT+02:00

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Residents in the small southern village of Puy-Saint-Pierre are in uproar after an implausible union between an attractive 42-year-old Parisian estate agent and a gap-toothed 67-year-old local man.

Locals in the community of 520 people suspect that Sandrine Devillard is taking advantage of the fact that her new husband, Marcel Amphoux, is the biggest landowner in the village.

In photos of the happy couple, it is not obvious that Amphoux, a well-loved local, and slim, blonde Devillard are perfectly matched. Amphoux was described by newspaper Aujourd'hui as being "dressed like a scarecrow."

The newspaper spoke to some locals who seemed in no doubt that "he'd been had."

"If you'd told me that two years ago, I'd never have believed it," said one local. 

"He must have succumbed to her charms," said another.

The romance started when Devillard proposed buying land from Amphoux, which he refused. Their affair started shortly afterwards.

Some locals are fearful they will be thrown out of homes they rent on Amphoux's land. 

"She went to see some tenants and told them they'd be turfed out," said one. "She said it was hers now."

Fears were raised this week when Amphoux apparently vanished into thin air, but it transpired the couple were on their honeymoon in Paris.

The mayor of the village, Jean-Marius Barnéoud, even asked police to look into the matter when the marriage request was placed.

"I had my doubts," he said. "It's a bit bizarre that a woman like that would become infatuated with Marcel."

Police interviewed the couple but found no reason to prevent the wedding, which went ahead on Saturday, not without its own drama.

As the couple tried to say their vows, some villagers were booing and whistling so much that the mayor had to get heavy to restore order. 

"I had to bang my fist on the table to get quiet," said the mayor. "We were getting close to a punch-up."

One local tried to offer some hope for the newly-weds. "I asked him if he really wanted to get married," he said. "He replied yes…I just hope he'll be happy."


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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