NOGENT-SUR-MARNE, France (AP) - Residents are blasting a plan to erect a statue with a face modeled on that of French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in this small town east of Paris.

Opponents say the elegant former top model has no link to this working class town. But Mayor Jacques Martin, a big supporter of President Nicolas Sarkozy, is unbending on the matter.

The 2.5 meter (8.2-feet) statue will go up in a square in the Little Italy development underway to pay homage to Italian immigrants who settled here. The mayor has said the developer will cover the cost. He denied reports that his office will split it.

The statue is to be finished after this spring's presidential election.

Bruni-Sarkozy was born in Italy.