When a lady married a rich hermit 25 years her senior, she became the talk of the town and the source of many rumours. The townpeople always had their doubts about her and she kept proving otherwise.
But it wasn’t until her husband died that she understood she’d lost more than just a husband.
While money is unquestionably necessary to live a comfortable life, it does not necessarily ensure happiness. Some of the most priceless experiences we make have little or nothing to do with money.
Disagreements about money can often lead to family feuds, separating loved ones and creating misery and heartbreak. A millionaire went through something similar when he decided to live a life that was not focused on his wealth. But not everyone thought the same of his wife.
Sandrine Devillard was a stylish Parisienne who owned four companies in her native France, including an estate agency. The blonde-haired lady was usually dressed to impress, making a sophisticated fashion statement with her expensive clothes.
She was used to a luxurious lifestyle, which matched her charming nature. It was known that she always wanted more than she had. She had no idea where her rising ambitions would lead her.
Marcel Amphoux, on the other hand, was a gap-toothed hermit, landowner, and eccentric farmer who resided in the French Alpine hamlet of Puy-Saint-Pierre.
Amphoux decided to live as a loner on the slopes of Puy-Saint-Pierre, near the famous ski resort of Serre-Chevalier in Southeastern France, despite owning five Alpine shepherd’s huts on valuable terrain. According to a French publication, he lived like a bear.
Amphoux’s home was worth millions due to its great position, something Devillard was well aware of when she met him and showed a strong desire to purchase it. The cottages might be extremely profitable if turned into chalets.
Was Devillard up to something?
Despite the fact that the toothless hermit owned the lodges, he was unconcerned about their financial potential. Even the individuals who lived there would pay in pennies.
Devillard tried everything to convince Amphoux to sell her the land but to her dismay, he would always refuse.
The beautiful Parisian lady, on the other hand, was determined to change things, and she countered by asking him out on a date. Surprisingly, the eccentric bachelor, who rode his bike about and claimed to communicate with aliens, was charmed by her attractiveness.
This shocked everyone in the town who knew Amphoux and wanted the best for him.
But nothing deterred Devillard from pursuing the old man. The courtship continued and it blossomed into something big. Following a brief romance came the shocking news that shocked the entire community – the surprise marriage.
While Devillard convinced everyone that she loved Amphoux, none of her words was convincing enough for the townspeople.
On a crisp, beautiful day in September 2011, 67-year-old Amphoux and 42-year-old Devillard married and confirmed their relationship in the city hall in Puy-Saint-Pierre, a town of 500 people surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
Devillard had a flower bouquet and donned a flowing mauve silk gown. Her magnificent clothing was complemented by her costly jewellery. Amphoux was dressed in a grey suit, a mauve silk tie, a waistcoat, and a worn, floppy hat, which had wiry grey hair peeking out the sides.
Throughout the wedding ceremony, however, inhabitants of the Alpine community booed and heckled. Their hatred was directed squarely at Devillard, who had no prior ties to the little community.
One of the locals said, “People were booing and jeering. They all knew Marcel well and considered that Sandrine was solely after his property and money.”
Many people felt that the blonde estate agent deceived the unkempt landowner and was just interested in his money. The couple’s honeymoon was scheduled to take place in Paris, but Amphoux allegedly went home alone after complaining about how much he disliked the city.
The newlyweds maintained contact, but their marriage remained problematic. But Devillard devised a flawless strategy to prove her love for Amphoux and silence the speculators.
In April 2012, she released a music video in which she sang “L’appel Du Soleil” (The Call Of The Sun). Devillard was seen frolicking in the Alpine meadows like a blonde Julie Andrews in her shimmering white gown in the video.
Amphoux allegedly emerged from behind in a hood and in the last minutes of the film when he and Devillard kissed. The song video depicted the gorgeous Parisian’s transition from city dweller to country housewife.
“Marcel is a man from the Middle Ages, even prehistoric times. I am a true Parisian. I still live there. But I visit my husband as often as I can,” Devillard said.
However, Amphoux remained silent throughout the song video and even thereafter.
He talked to a local newspaper in June 2012 about his marriage and relationship with Devillard. He stated that he hadn’t heard from his wife in a long time.
Amphoux even stated that he was afraid of losing everything. Was this some kind of foreboding?
In November 2012, Amphoux died in a fatal traffic accident, when his automobile tumbled into a ravine in heavy mist and died from his injuries.
In a strange turn of events the driver and another passenger, who were both Devillard’s friends, were unharmed.
The driver was later prosecuted and acquitted of manslaughter. The entire town of roughly 500 people gathered for the funeral of the “Hermit of the Alps.” The stunning widow, who was 25 years younger than her late husband, was also present for the sad event.
Devillard went in all black for the burial and was supposed to have thrown herself into Amphoux’s grave to demonstrate her devotion to her late husband.
Locals, on the other hand, proceeded to hurl obscenities at the Parisian lady. One of the friends of the dead old man said, “People were furious with Sandrine, they didn’t stop letting her know.”
But were the townspeople right in treating the widow so?
Things went along as days passed by. Finally, the day came when it would be decided what would happen to Amphoux’s wealth. According to French law, Devillard was entitled to her husband’s vast fortune.
But everything changed in 2016, when Amphoux’s final will and testament, scrawled on the back of an envelope, surfaced.
He had said in his will that he wanted his money to go to a female cousin and the huts to go to the present tenants. The rich hermit didn’t appear naïve at all, as he didn’t leave a dime for his lovely, young wife.
An enraged Devillard apparently challenged the will’s legitimacy, claiming it was not written in Amphoux’s handwriting. She also claimed that the new heirs had abused her trust, tried extortion, and fraud.
Prosecutor Raphael Balland, on the other hand, said that handwriting specialists had proven Amphoux wrote the will. As a result, Devillard’s charges were dismissed. The story of this wealthy hermit and his lovely young wife may teach us a lot about life. Amphoux put connections, family, and love above everything else.
But Devillard reportedly misled her husband and was even accused of planning and plotting against him. Until the end, she failed to earn a place in the hearts of the Alpine people.