Depardieu throws house party for new Belgium neighbors
French actor Gerard Depardieu was made honorary citizen of the village he inhabits in Belgium this weekend - and celebrated by throwing a housewarming party for over 200 guests.
The 64-year-old announced his move to Belgium in December 2012 in protest against the 75 percent so-called "super tax" on income being deliberated in France. On Saturday, he attended a ceremony in his honour at the Castle of Estaimbourg in the municipality of Estaimpuis.
(Read more: Actor Depardieu Hits Back at French PM Over Taxes)
"Gerard, Estaimpuis loves you," said the region's mayor, Daniel Senesael, who also presented Depardieu with a medal, a leather harness and a painting of the castle.
He added that the village of Nechin was pleased that the celebrity has chosen to make it his home, which Depardieu responded to by describing his new home as "perfect."
Following the ceremony, Depardieu hosted a housewarming party in his 19th-century, five-bedroomed home, where over 200 guests, including neighbors, were treated to T-bone steaks and suckling pigs provided by the local butcher.
(Read more: Actor Depardieu's Belgium Move 'Pathetic:' French PM)
The actor, who was accused by the French government of trying to dodge taxes by buying a house in Belgium, must have felt right at home among his neighbors and guests. Around a quarter of the residents of Nechin, which is situated less than 2 km away from the French border, are French, and many are wealthy, attracted by Belgium's lower rate of income tax.
But while Depardieu may not shell out as much in taxes, the local mayor revealed that he hopes the star will loosen his purse strings. "I want him to invest with us", he said, revealing that the actor plans to "open a café-restaurant, a space about wine" soon.
Depardieu also has ties to Russia, after being granted citizenship of the country in January by president Vladimir Putin. But when asked whether he considers himself French, Belgian or Russian, the star was noncommittal. "I am a free man," he said. "I feel at home everywhere in Europe."
To read the La Voix du Nord article in full, click here.
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