Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Model choice for France
Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix: A view of Marianne in 1830
France has chosen a new Marianne - the mythical female figure that symbolises the republic.
The new figure belongs to model and actress Laetitia Casta, who starred in a recent film version of the comic book Asterix the Gaul.
The 21-year-old will now be the millennium model for the bust of Marianne to feature in more than 36,000 town halls across France.
This year, for the first time, the model was chosen by a vote among the country's mayors.
Ms Casta collected 36% of the votes cast; TV presenter Estelle Hallyday, daughter-in-law of singer Johnny, was second with 29%; windsurfing champion and sports presenter Nathalie Simon with 16% came third.
Some mayors compared the decision-making process to a Miss France pageant, complaining that it did not reflect the diversity of French womanhood.
The bare-breasted, bonneted Marianne was the standard bearer of the revolutionary forces of 1789 and has been a symbol of the republic ever since.
Previous models have included the actresses Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot, and the singer Mireille Matthieu.
A sculptor will now be chosen to render the mayors' favourite in plaster and the new bust will be unveiled at the mayoral association's annual conference on 23 November.