June 18, 2008

CORRENS, France- The new game in Correns, a village in Provence suddenly hit by media frenzy since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie moved into a nearby villa, is to make up stories about the couple for the paparazzi.

You will be treated to a free glass of pastis if you can get a particularly silly story published, mischievous residents said, declining to be named.

Pitt and Jolie, who is pregnant with twins, are staying at the sprawling Miraval domain, near Correns, where they enjoy nearly 1,000 acres of woods and vineyards, a gorgeous 17th-century villa, a swimming pool and helicopter pad.

News of their arrival with their four children has drawn paparazzi from all over the world who now engage in a daily game of cat-and-mouse with security guards under strict instructions to protect the family's privacy.

"They came here to find some peace, and instead there are paparazzi at the gate day and night. It's really unbearable. There are always five or six motorbikes and cars ready to launch into a chase," said Christine, a sympathetic local winemaker.

Rumor has it in the village that decoy limousines with black-tinted windows exit the property every so often to lure the photographers away, while the couple known as "Brangelina" travel only by helicopter.

For residents of Correns, the horde of reporters and other visitors keen to catch sight of the A-list Hollywood stars has provided entertainment -- and some extra business.

"It's bringing business because people are a little curious. For now there's a lot of hype, it's going to be good for the next few weeks and after that we'll see," said Onno Stijl, a chef at the Auberge du Parc hotel and restaurant.

Less impressed are the local hunting enthusiasts, who say the Miraval domain is prime territory for boar and who fear tense encounters with the Pitt-Jolie security guards when the season starts on August 15.

"We have the proper authorizations and everything," said a local hunter, pre-empting any possible objection to the annual shooting fest in the Miraval woods.

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