After being elected in 2014 Socialist mayor Stéphane Delpeyrat wanted to make a symbolic gesture to the 500 or so inhabitants in the south western village of Saint-Aubin.
The salaries of village mayors are more to cover costs than to act as a full-time salary, and mayors of small French villages can earn up to €1,178 a month.
But with France in debt and the economy struggling, Depeyrat decided to limit his monthly salary to just €400.
“I wanted to lead by example,” he told local France Blue radio.
But then he received a painful letter through the post, alerting him to the fact that he faced a significant salary rise.
Thanks to new rules surrounding how much mayors in France can earn, Delpeyrat has been told he was breaking the law by taking home so little.
A situation he has described as “grotesque” in an interview with local French radio.
The new rule, which has left him with a fatter wallet than normal, states that mayors of villages or municipalities with fewer than 1,000 residents cannot pick up less than €800 a month.
The motive of the law was to encourage local people to stand for mayor in the thousands of rural communities across the country.
But Delpeyrat says it should be the French government that covers the cost of his wages rather than his own village’s limited purse.