11 of the Most Absurd Laws of France

They say "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". And nevertheless, certain current laws seem totally absurd today and cannot be seriously applied. Some date back to kings and emperors, some were simply never revised as time went by, and therefore still stand. Between embarrassment, laughter, and surprise, here is a selection of laws which at least make for a good laugh.

1- It is forbidden to kiss (embrace) on railroad tracks or in train stations! This ban would come from a time when lovers kissing at departure prevented the train from leaving on time. With TGV and other high-speed train, and the windows that don’t open anymore, it is safe to say that this won’t happen anytime soon.

2- French radio stations must play 70 percent of French music from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. Nowadays, this would not stand a chance with the overpowering of American and British music on every band of radio.

3- It is forbidden to photograph the Eiffel Tower at night! The more than 20, 000 lights which compose its lighting lace are characterized as artistic work – and therefore protected by copyright. If the photo stays in private use, there is no problem. But if shared or sold for a commercial use, it can engender pursuits against the author. Will my next post be written from jail?

4- It is possible to write a check on any kind of sturdy papers, not prone to disintegrate. So, we suppose toilet paper does not qualify. And who writes checks anyway?

5- Everybody has to have a bale of hay at home, in case the King would pass on horseback. Since the monarchy has been abolished in France for quite some time now, we are safe for now. But should a king return to power, as a proper heir/descendant is still living in France, one must be prepared and keep a piece of hay stored somewhere.

6- A law of 1804 indicates that when you become an owner, you also become an owner of " the top and the bottom " referring to the basements and the airspace above. Good luck with that today. Should we charge every airplane that enters our space? one wonders.

7- It is forbidden to call his pig Napoleon. Show some respect for the emperor. We can be friends with a pig, but not give it the name of the most famous of all Corsicans.

8- It is strictly forbidden to take photos of law enforcement or their vehicles. Even shown in the background, it is a prohibited act. This might be true for many other countries.

9- It is said that every citizen can arrest a wanted person. This is called citizen’s arrest in the USA. Although since almost no civilian carries a gun in France, this is a practice not as wildly used not known as in the United States. Batman they are not.

10- In France, it is possible to vote for a dead man! Indeed, if a candidate dies shortly before the elections, it is impossible to modify the voting lists because they are validated in advance by the voting office. This happened during the regional elections of 2010 in Charente-Maritime when a candidate died days before the voting day – and some unaware still voted for him.

11- This had to be the most ironic of them all: A decree stipulates "that no alcoholic drink is authorized in the workplace ". Except that the article also says that it has exceptions such as wine, beer, cider, and cherry. Thus it leaves us the very wide choice of …Champagne. Not too shabby.

Happy Holidays to all!

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