Residents of Villars-les-Dombes have reacted with anger to news that migrants will be settled in the picturesque French village thanks to the ‘secretive’ purchase of a hotel by a migration NGO.

The Association for the Protection of Children and Adults (ADSEA) bought the only hotel for sale in the whole commune, Mayor Pierre Larrieu told reporters, stressing that the purchase was made “in unacceptable conditions — behind our backs”.

It was only in mid-November that the mayor received a phone call informing him that the Ribotel in Villars-les-Dombes — situated just 100 metres from a major tourist attraction — was to be transformed into a reception and orientation centre (CAD) for migrants, 90 of whom would be arriving on December 4.

On Thursday, a public meeting to discuss the shock development was attended by around 400 of the commune’s 4,500 residents who responded to the news with “fear” and “hostility”, according to French media, which reported that “even local officials” were unhappy about the situation — and the lack of transparency in how it came about.