First gay couple wed in France amid tight security after controversial new legislation sparked violent protests

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau tie the knot in historic wedding in Montpellier

Two Frenchmen mad history in the southern city of Montpellier as France's first gay couple to marry said "oui".

Vincent Autin, 40, and Bruno Boileau, 30, married in the presence of more than 600 guests including a government minister and the world’s media.

The ceremony was held under tight police surveillance, just three days after tens of thousands of opponents of the law introducing same-sex marriage staged a final protest in Paris, leading to 293 arrests.

The civil ceremony was performed by the mayor of Montpellier, Hélène Mandroux, a long-time fervent supporter of the reform which was adopted on 18 May. But the law, which also legalises gay adoption, has bitterly divided the country and sparked a series of homophobic attacks. A far-right essayist who shot himself on the altar of Notre Dame cathedral left a blogpost in which he denounced gay marriage.

Ms Mandroux called the law that legalised gay marriage "a stage in the modernisation of our country."

“Our wedding is big in the media, which can be intimidating,” said Mr Boileau. “But what is important is the final result – what we want is equality for all. May every Monsieur or Madame get married in his or her town hall.”

President François Hollande, a Socialist who is anxious to heal the political wounds thrown up by the heated debate, criticised the slogans of the rally last Sunday which called for “resistance” against the “fascist state”, saying that this conjured up an image of Nazism which was totally inappropriate.