The Unique Swimsuit Law You Have To Follow In France

France is home to many beautiful cities and quaint towns that many of us can only ever dream of living in, as well as a smattering of attractions that millions of tourists from different parts of the globe often flock to. The Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre, and Château de Versailles are just some of the spots on many a travel bucket list. But while France is famous for its unparalleled beauty and geographical diversity, it's also notorious for having quirky laws that non-locals scratch their heads to — including one that dictates what you can wear to public pools and beaches.

The French have a long list of strange policies that date back years. Take capturing photos of the Eiffel Tower, for example. You can take pictures of the majestic structure during the day, but you must be careful about doing it at night and then sharing them on social media, lest you want to be sued for copyright. In the town of Lhéraule, a mayor ruled that visitors must be polite and greet town hall officials "bonjour" and "merci," or they'll be asked to leave. Writing a check? France allows anyone to write it on whatever paper they can find, provided that it's not fragile.

Now, if you want to take a dip in a public French pool or beach, you must be wary about your attire. Men are required to don either un slip de bain (trunks) or un boxer (tight shorts), while some places have made it compulsory to wear swimming caps.

Swimming trunks and caps are mandatory

Speedo? Oui! Quicksilver or Ripcurl? Non! France is one country that is extra strict about what it allows locals and tourists to wear to public pools, beaches, or any swimmable body of water.

Call it Olympic chic, if you must. Men are obliged to sport tight swimming trunks or briefs, the kind the likes of Michael Phelps wear to swim meets. How fitting for the country that invented the bikini! Any loose-fitting or baggy shorts are strictly prohibited, as those are considered unhygienic. This law, which dates back to 1903, is strictly enforced in many places up to this day. "Small, tight trunks can only be used for swimming. Bermudas or bigger swimming shorts can be worn elsewhere all day, so could bring in sand, dust or other matter, disturbing the water quality," Emmanuel Dormois, a head pool attendant in Paris' 11th arrondissement, told The Guardian.

Some communes in the country also mandated the use of swimming caps, citing hygiene and cleaning costs as the key reasons. "Swimming surrounded by floating hair is not pleasant but it's not just the hygiene," Didier Quéraud, head of sport at Rezé, explained to The Connexion. Because hair often gets stuck in filters, pools take more water and energy to clean, leading authorities to issue the policy. "It was necessary to reduce our energy consumption and, in particular, by making our filters work less by injecting less water, which is also heated," said Philippe Briout, director of conurbation at Saint-Lô (Manche).

Is there a way to skirt around the law?

The good news: not all French pools are a stickler for rules. The century-old law apparently doesn't apply to private entities like hotels. It's up to the discretion of the business what rules they'll ask their patrons to follow, so if you insist on wearing your baggy shorts, you can ask around for establishments that allow them. Certain campsites also authorize visitors to wear looser shorts, but the kicker is wearing another pair of boxers underneath is not permitted. Again, it's imperative to consult the campsite before paying a visit.

In the event that you get caught wearing long shorts, expect to get reprimanded by lifeguards and other pool staff. "A lifeguard jumped into the water after me, three other attendants fetched a big hook for fishing out drowning people and hauled me in," an Irish journalist told The Guardian of his experience at a French public pool. But don't fret, you don't have to face the same level of embarrassment. Vending machines selling those tiny trunks, among other items like goggles and swimming caps, are commonplace all around France. Just purchase a pair, and take a plunge right after.