The man went to inspect a white van in which the 76-year-old had been kidnapped after noticing it had false number plates
A French luxury hotel owner who was brazenly snatched in a busy part of the Riviera resort of Nice two days ago was found alive and well on Wednesday, police said.
Jacqueline Veyrac, the co-owner of the five-star Grand Hotel in Cannes, was found by a resident of west Nice, prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre said, adding that two people had been arrested in Nice in connection with the probe.
The man went to inspect a white van in which the 76-year-old had been kidnapped after noticing it had false number plates. He found Veyrac bound to its floor, he said.
"He smashed one of the windows, opened the door and freed Madame Veyrac before immediately informing the police," Pretre said.
"It's a satisfactory ending," he added.
Witnesses said Veyrac was getting into her SUV on Monday after emerging from a pharmacy when abductors grabbed her and bundled her into a waiting van before speeding off.
"This is not the end of the affair, it's just the end of the kidnapping," he said, describing it as a "complex" and "mysterious" case that appeared not to be linked to ransom but "something very personal".
"There are several leads and the police have launched a big investigation," he said, adding that Veyrac had suffered psychological trauma "but had kept her wits about her and was able to provide valuable information to investigators."
Veyrac, whose husband died five years ago, co-owns the Grand Hotel with one of her sons and the pair also run a gourmet restaurant in Nice called La Reserve.
She was the victim of a kidnapping attempt three years ago, the motive of which was never discovered.
The seafront Grand Hotel, bought by the Veyrac family in 1963 and refurbished, is close to the Palais des Festivals where the Cannes Film Festival is held each May.
Sophie Jonquet, a family layer, said Veyrac now wanted to resume her low-key "life of anonymity that she cherishes".