Sandrine Devillard is being dubbed a gold digger after she decided to contest her late husband’s will who left his millions to his cousins and property to his tenants. Sandrine brought the matter to the courts.
Marcel Amphoux was neatly tied claret cravat, with his attractive younger bride on his arm, the affectionately nicknamed “Hermit of the Alps” had never looked so smart or so proud. Dressed in a floppy hat, with his wiry grey hair poking out of the side, had a wide grin which showed his missing teeth.
But to Marcel’s friends in the small French village of Puy-Saint-Pierre, the 67-year-old’s marriage to this glamorous blonde, 25 years his junior, would be his undoing.
They were convinced that property agent Sandrine Devillard was a calculating gold-digger, who connived to marry the old peasant farmer for his valuable plot of land in the Alps.
And so they thronged to the wedding ceremony in order to hiss and boo.
The local mayor, who was officiating, said: “I had to bang my fist on the table to shut them up. There was almost a brawl.”His bid to silence locals in the village near the French-Italian border did not work for long.
In fact, soon it seemed the whole of France was grumbling about the possible motives of 42-year-old Sandrine.
Seven months after the 2011 wedding, in a bid to prove she was genuine, she even recorded a cringeworthy music video, L’appel Du Soleil (The Call Of The Sun) as a love song to her husband.
The video — with its echoes of Julie Andrews’ The Hills Are Alive Sound of Music routine — is supposed to show the glamorous Parisienne’s transformation from stiletto-heeled urbanite to rural homemaker.
She is pictured rejoicing in her new life among the snow-capped mountains and shepherd’s huts, wearing a sparkling white robe. Marcel also appears — but only from the back, in a hood, until the clip’s last moments when they kiss.
The mountain man who was said to “live like a bear” in a hut without electricity or running water, died in a mysterious car accident months after the shoot.
But only this week, more than four years after his death, has the world found out what will happen to his valuable estate.
The strange story began five years ago when Sandrine travelled to the village in her capacity as a real estate agent. Her mission was to convince the old man to sell his five shepherd’s huts.
The expansion of neighbouring ski resort Serre Chevalier meant that these ramshackle huts — or rather the six acres they occupied — could be worth millions of pounds. However, she failed to convince Marcel to sell despite courting him with lavish trips to restaurants and the seaside.
However, it seemed that the eccentric bachelor, who got around on a bicycle fitted with a flashing police light and claimed he talked to aliens, was captivated by her attentions.
Then came the news that knocked the villagers for six — the unexpected marriage. Sandrine later revealed how their relationship grew from helping Marcel with his properties.
She explained: “He has three houses with occupants who pay no rent. I gave him a hand and he asked me to marry him.”
But villagers smelled a rat. They were outraged, fearing this kind, good-natured man who they described as “solitary but affable” was being duped.
One group of supporters even placed a notice in the local newspaper insisting it was not a wedding but that he had been seized “by a gang of frauds.”
At the civil ceremony one resident, who wished to be known only as Jacques, said: “People were booing and jeering.
“They all knew Marcel well, and considered that Sandrine was solely after his property and money.
“As a couple they could not have looked more ridiculous. His wealth was all she was interested in and everybody knew it.”
Even mayor Jean-Marius Barneoud, who conducted the ceremony, was so suspicious of Sandrine’s motives he reportedly asked police to investigate her, something Sandrine said “insulted and humiliated” the newlyweds.
After the marriage, she appeared on a French chat show and said: “People thought I was married to him because my husband owns properties in Serre Chevalier. This is not the case at all.”
Earlier she had insisted: “We are in love. Why don’t people leave us in peace? We want to live together. Full stop.”
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