The French have always been renowned for having a, shall we say, permissive attitude towards public nudity. In recent months, the world – and, more pertinently, France’s female Muslim population – has discovered that this laissez-faire outlook does not extend to public modesty; across the Channel, the debate over the burkini ban rages on.
But nudity? Yep, they’re still on board with that.
From next summer, visitors will be able to bare all in a designated naked zone in Paris. City councillors have just approved plans for an experimental nudist area in the French capital – possibly tucked away in one of Paris’s many parks or in a wooded area on the city outskirts, the BBC reports.
“We’ve got two million nudists in France which is doubled during the summer with visitors,” said David Belliard, co-chairman of Paris council’s ecologist group, who supported the plans.
“For them Paris is the world's premier tourist destination and there's no public place for them to go. We want to try out a recreational area where nudists can freely strip off.”
Public nudity is forbidden in France, and can carry a penalty of €15,000 (£13,050) and a year in prison. However, Naturism France says that it’s incredibly unlikely that anyone would be prosecuted for stripping off in specially designated areas, such as France’s many nudist beaches and parks.
Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s first female mayor, approved the plans, as did her deputy, Bruno Julliard.
Julliard said that the nudist zone will probably be established in one of Paris’s main woods, the Bois de Boulogne in the west or Bois de Vincennes in the east. It would, he said, have to be “near a lake, in a regulated setting so that there is no threat to public order.”
“We need to find the right place and we don’t want to upset anyone or ruffle feathers,” Julliard told RMC Radio.
However, some people have argued against the plans. One centrist councillor, who described the idea as “demented”, told the BBC that authorising nudity in the centre of the capital could be seen as a provocation – particularly when tensions are still running high over the burkini ban.
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