Dining elite robbed at gunpoint

RIVIERA restaurant owners fear a spate of terrorist-type attacks after an armed robbery at one of the favourite eateries of the rich and famous near Cannes.

For 25 years the Ferme de Mougins has been the favourite haunt of such celebrities as Roger Moore, Joan Collins, Adnan Khashoggi, the King and Queen of Belgium, the Duchess of York and Paloma Picasso.

Originally a sheep farm, it stands in two acres of olive groves and lush parkland at the entrance to the picture-postcard village of Mougins.

On balmy summer nights the diners love to sit on the shady colonial- style terraces, under huge umbrellas, eating provencale dishes and listening to the cigales. These punters are happy to spend 800 francs (pounds 80) each for dinner, delighted to discover the rare wines in the cellars of the owner, Henri Sauvanet.

But on Monday night fear and terror hit the tranquil hostelry (three knives and forks in Guide Michelin), when four armed and hooded bandits stormed the heavy iron gates of La Ferme, having badly beaten, bound and gagged the car attendant. Yannick Maurette-Fleury, a Parisian journalist on holiday with his family in the South of France, said the attack took place at 11pm.

"We were just finishing dinner with a fine old brandy when the hooded raiders struck, yelling `Nobody move!' They grabbed the maitre d'hotel by the collar and thrust a pistol at his head. We realised they meant business".

Mr Maurette-Fleury said the 80 diners, including two pregnant women, had no alternative but to do as they were ordered and prostrate themselves on the ancient flagstones.

The traumatised diners were instructed to remove their jewels and leave cash and credit cards in front of them. The biggest haul came from a man celebrating his 75th birthday. His pockets were stuffed with cash: with a trophy blonde by his side, he was about to head off to the casino on La Croisette, in Cannes, for a post-prandial flutter.

The robbers, having swept up their haul, estimated at 200,000 francs, beat a hasty retreat.

The shocked diners, paralysed with fear, remained spread-eagled on the floor, too frightened to move, long after the bandits had made their escape in a stolen Peugeot 309.

Now Riviera restaurant owners fear a spate of terrorist-type attacks similar to that at Le Ferme de Mougins. "This is not the first time it's happened at Le Ferme but they usually manage to keep it quiet," said Jean- Paul Battaglia, owner of the Feu Follet Restaurant, which is popular with British vacationers.

"The South of France in summer has always been a major attraction for thieves. We expect this to happen as surely as we expect the 14th of July."

Mr Battaglia is not worried about clients being too frightened to dine out. "Some will cancel because they are nervous; others will come hoping for a bit of excitement."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there