Alex Batty’s French hosts state that he desired a “typical existence.”

The proprietors of the gite where a previously missing British boy stayed affirm that he enjoyed participating in their family life.

Ingrid Beauve and Fred Hambye, the proprietors, stated that they considered Alex as a member of their own family and were unaware of his true identity until recently.

The couple’s testimony, which was released on Sunday, provides more details about this intricate and remarkable human story.

At the heart of this story is Alex, who went missing at the age of 11 in 2017 while on vacation in Spain with his mother and grandfather.

His legal guardian is still his grandmother, Susan Caruana, who expressed concerns that her ex-partner and daughter had taken the boy away because they wanted him to experience “an alternative lifestyle”.

Last week, 17-year-old Alex reappeared.

Fabien Accidini, a student working as a delivery driver, spotted Alex while he was walking on a remote mountain road in the rain-soaked foothills of the French Pyrenees.

Accidini learned that the boy had been walking for four days and nights, primarily sleeping during the day and walking at night to avoid being seen. Alex had a skateboard, a backpack, and was heading to Toulouse, possibly to the British consulate.

Alex was taken to the gendarmerie in the town of Revel before British police took charge and brought him back to the UK on Saturday.

During a press conference on Saturday night, the Greater Manchester police (GMP) confirmed that Alex had returned to the UK and was now where he wanted to be.

“This was undoubtedly a significant moment for him and his loved ones, and we are pleased that they have been able to reunite after all this time,” stated Matt Boyle, an assistant chief constable.

It has been revealed that Alex had been intermittently living at the remote Gite de la Bastide where his grandfather worked as a handyman in exchange for food and lodging.

The proprietors of the gite, Beauve and Hambye, stated that they wanted to share their story to address the “myths” perpetuated by the media.

They said that Alex, whom they knew as Zach, arrived in autumn 2021 and stayed for both short and extended periods.

“Zach/Alex had unrestricted access to our fridge and food, and he enjoyed cooking,” they stated. He particularly liked beef stew, spaghetti bolognese, chocolate cake, and vegetarian dishes. They noted that he was responsible and eager to participate in the gite’s activities when he was present.

The couple added that Alex was “part of our family and had a good relationship with our children”. He would accompany them on trips to the beach and the river, as well as cycling. On Sundays, he would join them at the market, where he would buy a tuna sandwich and meet his mother.

Sometimes Alex would leave to be with his mother, who never resided at the gite. According to the proprietors, she was seeking a place to live as part of a spiritual community, an environment that their large home couldn’t provide.

“As time went on, we considered him a part of our family, and we believe he appreciated the stability and security we offered him. He had his own room, unlimited internet access, and complete freedom to come and go as he pleased,” they said.

The couple stated that they encouraged Alex to learn French and pursue his studies.

Alex, they mentioned, wanted to “return to a normal life and school”. He informed them that he needed new documents and set off again, stating that he was joining his mother.

“We reassured him that he would always be welcome… We wish him the best of luck,” they concluded.

Days after his departure, Alex was found, triggering a rapid sequence of events that led to his return to Manchester.

Last Friday, French prosecutors indicated that the teenager’s mother might be in Finland, whereas his grandfather had passed away.

Alex’s family in the UK has requested privacy during this time so that they can provide him with as much comfort as possible upon his return.

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