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PARIS – Gerard Depardieu has added another citizenship to the growing roster of countries and cities he calls home, becoming an honorary citizen of the Belgian area of Estaimpuis, just across the border from his native France.
Depardieu established residency in Belgium last year in an effort to escape France’s now-scrapped supertax on the rich, a move that quickly escalated into a very public exchange of insults with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault before Depardieu renounced his French passport. He was quickly granted Russian citizenship from President Vladimir Putin, in a move that caused controversy in both Russia and France.
“We are glad you made your nest in Nechin,” said Estaimpuis municipal Mayor Daniel Senesael of the village where Depardieu owns one of his many homes during the citizenship ceremony. “Gerard, Estaimpuis loves you,” Senesael added.
The actor then hosted 200 townspeople at a postceremony barbecue.
After being granted Russian citizenship, Depardieu said that he holds seven passports and is a “citizen of the world,” but in an interview with Le Figaro Magazine he called the entire episode a “huge misunderstanding.”
“I’ve never left! I refuse to be trapped within borders. It is completely different. I’m a free man. I feel at home everywhere in Europe,” said the famous bon vivant, who spoke at length about his culinary passions, his restaurants and the vineyards he owns across France.
The provocative gourmand, who owns Le Fontaine Gallion in Paris and played a chef in Vatel (2000), The Last Holiday (2006) and Life of Pi (2012), decried the stigma of eating fatty foods, calling it “absurd” and compared the current culinary climate to “the one created by this terrorist who stashed explosives in his shoes and now everyone must take off their shoes before boarding a plane!” He also sung the praises of Japanese and Italian chefs, and expressed his love for New York’s Gemma restaurant.
Perhaps looking to make his highly publicized political fight with the government here a culinary one, Depardieu added that he would serve Ayrault a cold fish with vinaigrette and President Francois Hollande a chicken casserole and two slices of lard.
However, he also said he “still loves” France. “I live there regularly,” he said of Paris, having just wrapped a 20-day shoot on an untitled soccer film to be released in time for the World Cup in 2014.
Depardieu’s historic Paris home, put on the market a year ago when he made the move to Belgium, is still for sale at the asking price of $66 million (€50 million).
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