Bardot to take French leave

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For decades she was the quintessential French icon with the perfect Parisian pout, an illustrious career in Gallic cinema and a body that was used by sculptors for a bust of Marianne, the national emblem. But now it seems the love affair may be over.

Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist and anti-fur protester, has said that she is considering forsaking her home country for Sweden, a land more sympathetic to her campaign.

"To the contrary of [Greta] Garbo, who left Sweden to finish her days in the US, perhaps I will leave France to finish my days in Sweden, since today I feel much closer to Swedish sensitivity than to French insensitivity," Ms Bardot said.

The film star, who runs a foundation for animal rights, wrote a letter yesterday to the Swedish prime minister, Goran Persson, calling his nation one of only a few "that takes into consideration animal well-being".

She also lambasted the French government for attacking Sweden's proposal to introduce new European Commission rules on conditions for raising minks.

"The intervention of my government makes me ashamed," she wrote, while acknowledging that her image had always been linked to France.