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France

French mayor unknowingly approves gay gated village

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-08-06

A French mayor said Tuesday he was shocked that planning permission he had given for a gated village for people over 50 will be marketed to the gay community. The developers said the idea to re-orientate the marketing only came on Monday.

A French mayor expressed consternation Tuesday after he learned that a gated village that he had approved earlier this year for “over 50s seeking a healthy lifestyle” will be marketed to the gay community.

Yves Bastié, mayor of Sallères-d’Aude in southern France, gave British company Villages Group the go-ahead in March.

He said the developers had shown him promotional pictures of heterosexual couples at a similar village and had no idea that the project, worth up to around 25 million euros, was anything but a purpose-built community for active older residents.

But when he saw the Villages Group website on Monday, he discovered that “Le Village – Canal du Midi” was being marketed for gays and lesbians.

“I’m flabbergasted,” he told Le Parisien newspaper. “I had absolutely no idea.”

The online brochure, which features a picture of the famous Canal du Midi with a prominent rainbow flag, calls the village “a private oasis” for gays and lesbians who want an “active and healthy lifestyle in the warm, friendly and healthy climate of southern France.”

When completed, the village will comprise 107 eco-friendly homes with concierge services, swimming pools, saunas, bars and a gym, all part of a secure gated community.

The starting price for the houses at 236,000 euros and residents will have to pay 70 euros a week in service charges.

‘The last toss of the coin’

Villages Group Managing Director Danny Silver told FRANCE 24 he hadn’t told the mayor yet – because the idea to market to the gay community only came to him on Monday.

“The real estate market in France is so bad right now, and getting the planning permission took such a long time, that we were on the verge of closing the project down completely,” he explained.

“We didn’t have any takers, and when we had the idea of marketing it in this way, we thought, Why not?

“It was an experiment, the last toss of the coin.”

Silver said that on Monday he instructed his advertising people in London to re-orientate the online brochure, and by the end of the day he was receiving “thousands of emails every hour”.

“I’ve been 40 years in this business and I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

He insisted that just because it was marketed for gays did not mean it would be exclusively for a homosexual clientele – while he hoped the economic benefits would certainly outweigh any of the mayor’s concerns.

“We’re talking about 25 million euros of foreign investment, 40 to 60 local jobs and local builders working there for the next two years,” he said.

“The benefits are huge, and now we have the planning permission signed and sealed, and with the huge amount of interest we’ve received in just two days, this project is definitely going ahead.”

Date created : 2013-07-31

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