The French region home to hippy communes ranging from conspiracy theorists to doomsday cults: Ariege, where Alex Batty has spent the last two years, is infamous for its ‘alternative’ lifestyle groups including one led by convicted paedophile

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The region of France from which a British boy escaped this week is infamous for ‘alternative’ lifestyle communities, conspiracy theorists and cults – including one which was led by a convicted paedophile.

Alex Batty, from Oldham, Lancashire, went missing in 2017 when he was just 11 after going on a family holiday to Spain. He is now 17, and is currently waiting to return to the UK from Toulouse after being found close to the nearby town of Revel.

He was last seen in Spain on October 8 of 2017, the day he was expected to return home with his mother Melanie Batty and his grandfather David.

However, detectives believe they abducted Alex and – instead of returning to the UK – embarked on an ‘alternative’ lifestyle abroad for the last six years.

Alex was found by a student named Fabien Accidini after the youngster had been wandering for some four days in a mountainous area of southern France having escaped from the ‘spiritual nomadic’ community on-foot.

The isolated region has over the years developed a reputation for its off-the-grid communities, some of which have become bizarre cults.

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