• France's news in English

Belgian villagers set for Depardieu's garden party

Ann Törnkvist · 23 Aug 2013, 09:57

Published: 23 Aug 2013 09:57 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Depardieu's popularity might have nose-dived in his native France but just over the border in Belgium, where he now lives, he seems eager to make some new friends.

So much so that the actor, renowned for his ravenous appetite and love of a bottle or two of wine, has decided to hold a housewarming party for neighbours and local officials in the town of Néchin, which stands just one kilometre over the French border. 

Preparations are well underway, although the date of the party has been kept under wraps.

Depardieu has opted, perhaps unsurprisingly, for a barbecue which will no doubt please his local butcher Marc Vens. "It's been a year (since Deaprdieu's move] so we know each other quite well,"  Vens, who has one of the golden tickets to the party, told BFM TV. 

On the menu will be barbecued ribs and a suckling pig, Vens told local media. 

Among the 200 special guests will be around 60 of Depardieu's best buddies, 120 local officials from the area and 20 lucky neighbours from the mainly working class village, who after being initially wary of the star buying a house in their 'hood are now happy to welcome him.

Depardieu's own rosé wine is even on sale in local shops and was described by one resient as "excellent". 

Other villagers found solace in the bump in property prices thanks to lauded actor's choice of location for his new nesting place.

"I moved here well before Gérard, and I can tell you that since then, my house has gone up in value," a villager told La Voix du Nord on condition of anonymity.

Only a few weeks ago, Depardieu returned to his native France but showed no regret about taking up residence in Belgium or indeed becoming a citizen in Russia after the French socialist government's proposal to impose a 75-percent tax rate on annual incomes over €1 million ($1.3 million).

In an interview with AFP, the 64-year-old film star denied he quit France to escape the taxman, insisting his reasons for leaving had more to do with his frustration at "the way governments use the money they take."

On Friday Depardieu has insisted that the controversy over his quitting France was "a big misunderstanding" and that he still loves his country.

Story continues below…

"I never left! I refuse to be shut in by borders, that's completely different," Depardieu told the Figaro Magazine in an interview published on Friday. "I am a free man. I feel at home everywhere in Europe."

"This whole story is a big misunderstanding," he said, adding: "I love France as much as ever. It's my country."

His scrutinized decision to fraternize with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov made headlines around the globe.

Whether either of them will be chomping entrecôte at the garden party remains unclear.

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available