10 unusual things French mayors have banned (and why)
- Credit: Archant
Mayors are an integral part of the community in France but have a growing history of setting some rather unusual and, on the surface, futile rules in their towns and villages. We look at the reasoning behind some of things French mayors have banned
1. Ban on falling ill
In February 2020, nine mayors in Sarthe issued a municipal decree that banned their residents from falling ill. The rural mayors signed the symbolic decree with the aim of shedding light on the difficulties of access to care that the inhabitants of their villages had been facing due to a lack of doctors and the closure of some emergency facilities. In October 2018, Mayor Marc Ducom of Ychoux, Landes, also banned falling ill when two doctors in the town were due to retire and there were no other doctors available to takeover.
2. Ban on mosquitoes
In July 2018, the small town of Briollay, Maine-et-Loire officially banned the mosquito. After many complaints about the pests, Mayor André Marchand jokingly issued the decree as a way to show residents he had heard them. He also had ‘anti-mosquito traps’ installed near the town hall, nursery and primary schools.
3. Ban on swimming
In August 2018, Mayor Roger Lars in Landévennec, Brittany put a temporary swimming ban in place after an overly-friendly bottlenose dolphin was deemed a risk to swimmers. Swimming and diving were banned whenever the dolphin, nicknamed Zafar, was present, and residents were told to keep a minimum distance of 50m away from the animal.
4. Ban on being impolite
In November 2012, Mayor Gerard Plée of Lhéraule in Picardie brought in a regulation enforcing polite behaviour in the town hall, whereby all visitors must greet staff with a ‘hello’ on entering the building and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when making enquiries. Anyone failing to do so and therefore deemed to be acting impolitely could be asked to leave premises. This is reported to have followed an incident where a member of the public was particularly rude to staff.
5. Ban on dogs barking
In February 2019, Mayor Jean-Pierre Estienne in Feuquières, introduced a €68 fine for residents whose dogs bark too much. The decree forbade owners from leaving dogs in enclosed outdoor areas without being nearby. The move followed some of the town’s residents having sent a petition to the mayor complaining of an ongoing issue of excessive noise from a neighbour’s dogs.
6. Ban on bises
While she did not impose a decree on her residents, In December 2017, Mayor Aude Picard-Wolff in Morette, Isère, sent an email to 73 of her colleagues saying she would rather shake hands than do the traditional bise or cheek kisses as a greeting. She reasoned that a handshake is more hygienic and as this is how male co-workers normally greet each other; she should be able to do the same as a woman.
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7. Ban on UFOs
The oldest ban in our list, decreed in 1954, is a ban on the take-off, landing or overhead flight of flying saucers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vaucluse. Mayor Lucien Jeune reportedly made the ruling as publicity stunt after an alleged UFO sighting in the area and at a time when aliens were a popular conversation topic.
8. Ban on dying on a weekend
In December 2019, Mayor Isabelle Dugelet of La Gresle, Loire issued a ban on residents dying in their homes on weekends and holidays. When a death occurs outside of a hospital a doctor should normally attend to confirm and register it but one Sunday afternoon in the rural village it took two and half hours to find a doctor for the purpose and the Mayor issued the ban to highlight the issue.
9. Ban on playing pétanque
In August 2018, Mayor François Marty imposed a restriction on noisy activities in public places, which included the popular French game pétanque, between the hours of 11pm and 8am in Decazeville, Aveyron. A statement on the town’s Facebook page said: “Summer is, of course, conducive to night activities, it’s normal, but it must be done in accordance with the rules and consideration for others, otherwise it’s the law of the jungle.”
10. Ban on Pokémon GO
In August 2016, when the world was out and about, engulfed in trying to catch Pokémon with their phones, Mayor Fabrice Beauvois sent a decree to the makers of the Pokémon GO game asking for the virtual characters to be removed from his village of Beauvois, near Lyon. This was due to concerns that players might be too distracted by the game to notice safety risks while moving around the village.
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