A FRENCHMAN who tried to hike across the Pyrenees in search of cheap cigarettes in Spain had to be rescued by helicopter. 

He had set off from his home in the southern French town of Perpignan by car intending to stock up with cut-price tobacco. 

But as he was heading for the Spanish town of La Jonquera, he was turned back by border guards who were enforcing coronavirus restrictions. 

Gendarmes Pyrenees 1
RESCUE: A helicopter had to be called in to airlift the man to safety. Photo: PGHM des Pyrénées-Orientales.

Another man may have given up and returned home at this point. But this unnamed Frenchman was made of sterner – or stupider- stuff. Undaunted, he set off to walk to his destination along a hiking path across the mountains that separate France from Spain. 

His misfortunes began when he fell into a creek. No sooner had he extricated himself then he wandered – cold wet and shivering – off the path and straight into a bed of brambles. 

By this time he was completely lost but he did still have his mobile phone, which he used to call for help. 

Mountain rescue teams scrambled a helicopter for the search which found him “exhausted, shivering with cold and lost” above the border village of Le Perthus. 

On their Facebook page, gendarmes in the Pyrénées-Orientales region said the “unfortunate” smoker was found quickly after phoning for help. 

But being rescued was not quite the end of his misfortunes. Gendarmes slapped him with a €135 fine for breaching France’s coronavirus lockdown rules. 

“Once again, we remind you: STAY AT HOME,” the gendarmes posted. 

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