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French baker Michel Flamant, who owes his life to the homeless man who begged for handouts outside his bakery, knows more than anyone that man does not live by bread alone.To show his gratitude, Flamant is selling the business in the eastern town of Dole to Jerome Aucant for a symbolic one euro.
The corpulent Flamant, who wears a tank top and shorts to help him cope with the heat of his bread ovens, says he has always had a big heart despite his “piggish character”.
In fact, long before the fateful day in December when he nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning, he would greet Aucant every morning with a cup of coffee and a croissant.
“If Jerome wasn’t around that day I would have been a goner,” the 62-year-old Flamant said, recounting how a defective bread oven began leaking the odorless, lethal gas.
When Aucant noticed Flamant begin to stagger around the bakery, he called the emergency services.The poisoning landed Flamant in the hospital for 12 days.
Back at work, the baker initially offered Aucant, 37, a part-time job.
He soon realized how well the tattooed, dreadlocked homeless man applied himself.“And I’m demanding. The work has to be done as I say and that’s that!” the white-haired Flamant said as he lined up baguettes on an oven tray.
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Photo: Sebastian Bozon/ AFP