Find out what are the top 25 most unusual laws still in force in France.
Did you know that in France, certain treaties, decrees and other laws date from the Middle Ages, the French Revolution or the Vichy regime, are still in force? They are obsolete and completely disconnected from our daily lives, yet these laws and other legal norms are still in force.There are also some new ones which are totally ridiculous. I was totally shocked to learn what types of old laws are still valid in France, and I want to present you some …not all as there are tons of them! Not surprisingly, France has 10,500 laws, 127,000 decrees, 7,400 treaties, 17,000 community texts in force. That’s a fact!
Parents have the right to oppose the marriage of their children, even adults! Article 173 of the Civil Code dating from 1803 states cleaerly: “The father, the mother and, in default of father and mother, grandparents and grandmothers can oppose the marriage of their children and descendants, even adults. The parents can therefore appeal to the judge, but they must invoke a legal ground. Scary stuff….
Marrying a dead person in France is legal. Every year, there are a handful of posthumous marriages in France, one of the few countries where it’s actually legal to marry a dead person thanks to article 171 of the Civil Code. However, there are certain conditions that need to be met and the process can be long. You need to prove that the deceased person had the intention of marrying you./There needs to be serious grounds for the marriage./The president of France must approve the marriage. Once you meet all the requirements, the marriage will be backdated to the day before the bride or groom died. The idea behind marrying a dead person, was to legitimize the children born out of wedlock.
It was illegal for women to wear pants in Paris until 2013! Incredible but true. Banning women from wearing trousers was symbolically like banning women from the revolution and keeping women in their place. Until 2012, any woman wishing to dress as a man had to seek official authorization from the Police Prefecture. Finally, this is what the law, which obviously nobody respected.
According to SNCF regulations all domesticated animals must pay for a ticket to ride the train and the price is dependent on weight. If your pet is over 6KG you must pay 50% of a normal second-class ticket and if your pet is under 6KG, you must pay 7 euros (price as of 2018). This shocked me once I learnt someone has to pay for carrying snail in the bus!
Writing a check on paper even on a toilet paper is legal in France. The law is clear: unless the bank imposes a clause prohibiting self-drafting checks, it is quite possible to write a check on paper. It is a judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris dating from 1930 which indicates it. And on toilet paper? The Lyon Tribunal de Grande Instance took a serious look at the matter in April 1996, in a case involving a company that had paid for an order on toilet paper. The court ruled that if the paper is “strong enough and strong enough to withstand, without breaking dow in or being damaged, the various manipulations that its cashing assumes”, then the check on toilet paper is quite valid.
The owner of a property is also the owner of the “above and below, that is to say that he legally owns the airspace of his property and the underground space. Law 1804 indicates that “the property of the soil carries the property of the top and the bottom”. In other words, everything above the ground, like airspace, is part of the property.
First cousin marriages are legal in France. In modern western society, marriages between close relatives, called an avunculate marriage, are prohibited not only because it’s considered incestuous but also because this type of union dramatically increases the chances that the children could inherit a duplicate copy of dangerous recessive genes from both parents. In France the law prohibiting marriages between close relatives is article 163 and 161 of the French civil code, however, article 164 states that the President can authorize such a marriage under “special circumstances”.
Baby names banned in France every year. Despite this new naming freedom, every year the French courts use the law to prevent a handful of baby names. Some of the baby names blocked make perfect sense, like the time when a couple of parents wanted to name their newborn “Mini-Cooper”. Another family was blocked from giving their baby girl the name ‘Liam’, which is a boys name. Another family was blocked from naming their child “Fraise” (French for strawberry) and still, another family couldn’t use the name “Manhattan” or “Nutella”….i find this law actually useful…imagine how your childhood would be ruined when you have been called Nuttella!
Religious symbols are banned in public schools, including headscarves and crosses. In 2004, Article L141-5-1 of the Education Code banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. The law doesn’t mention any particular religious symbol but it’s implied that the ban includes large conspicuous crosses, Jewish kippahs, Sikh turbans, Christian veils, Islamic veils, Islam headscarves and other distinctive clothing that represent a religion. The ban is designed to maintain France’s tradition of strictly separating state and religion.
Voting for a dead person. The electoral law is extremely strict on the procedures governing the polls. Because, once the electoral lists validated by the Ministry of the Interior, it is impossible to modify them. Therefore, if a candidate dies a few days before the vote, it is still possible to vote for him. This is what happened in March 2010 in Charente-Maritime during the regional elections. The head of the list Gilles Suze, activist of the NPA, died soon after the official deposit of the candidatures. The prefecture refused any changes to the electoral lists. On polling day, the dead candidate won 1.58% of the votes cast.
No alcoholic beverages are officially permitted in the workplace. Aside from beer, perry, cider and wine. This is a regulation well known to all human resources managers. Decree No. 2008-244 of 7 March 2008 clearly states that “no alcoholic beverages are allowed in the workplace”. Except that the article also specifies, in the same sentence that there are exceptions: “wine, beer, cider and perry”. So for me the French can actually drink at work!
French law allows you to be divorced if you smoke too much or are too interested in football. France’s legal code obliges spouses to be faithful and if they aren’t it is grounds for divorce. However, infidelity can also be “intellectual” as well as physical meaning excessive smoking, playing too much football, spending too much time with the local bishop and phone sex, can all be grounds for divorce.
The Saint-Glinglin, it exists! In law, the day of Saint-Glinglin does exist.”Whereas the Saint -Glinglin does not appear in the calendar, but that there exists on November 1st a collective feast of all the saints who could not find their place; Whereas, consequently, it is necessary to fix at the 1 November the date of Saint-Glinglin.
No thief in the family. It is impossible to file a criminal complaint against his children, his parents or his spouse for theft! Thanks to Article 311-12 of the French penal code, a 200-year-old law from 1810, ascendants (parents), descendants (children) and spouses who are not separated or legally living apart have immunity from the law if they steal from another family member.
It’s illegal to disinherit your children in France. In many countries like the UK, the US and Canada, you have the freedom to leave assets to whomever you want in whatever proportions you want. And if you want to cut your children completely out of your will you can do that too. This can never happen in France thanks to Article 912 of the French civil code, which states that it’s illegal to cut a child out of a will— even children from a previous marriage and adopted children. There are exceptions but for the most part, if you have assets at the time of your death, a portion goes to the surviving spouse with the remaining assets divided equally amongst surviving children.
UFOs do not have the right to land in Châteauneuf du Pape. A law put in place by the mayor in the 50’s to reassure the inhabitants of his commune and which is still in force because it is part of the history of the city.
Limiting the amount of ketchup and mayonnaise in school cafeterias in France. In 2011, article 2 of the public health code was passed to promote healthy eating and to maintain traditional French and Gallic cuisine. It states: “A limited amount of ketchup, mayonnaise, vinaigrette and salt are only allowed to be served with dishes it was meant to be eaten with (without adding additional condiments).
Organizing a child beauty contest is illegal in France. In an attempt to prevent hyper-sexualization in young children and increase gender equality, the Senate voted to amend an existing law which essentially makes it illegal for anyone to organize a beauty contest for children under the age of 16, punishable with 2 years of imprisonment and a 30K euros fine. The previous minimum age was much lower. The amended law took effect in 2013.
Taking photos of the Eiffel tower at night is illegal. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s actually true- but only half true thanks to EU and French copyright laws. First of all, article 5 of the EU copyright directive states that all artistic work is protected under copyright —whether a song, painting, software, a book, architectural design etc—for the lifetime of its creator, plus 70 years. In the case of the Eiffel Tower, which is an architectural design, Mr Gustave Eiffel died in 1923 and so the Eiffel Tower became public domain 70 years after his death in 1993. Photos taken of the Eiffel Tower in the daytime are not copyright. Photos of the Eiffel Tower at night while illuminated are protected under copyright. (So is the Pyramide du Louvre and le viaduc de Millau.). Although technically protected under copyright law, no tourist has been sued for taking a selfie in front of the Tower and posting to Facebook or Instagram yet. Probably because it would be a logistical and legal nightmare to go after all the photos floating around the web. Also, as of 2016 an amendment was made to 122-5 of the Intellectual Property Code which allows people to take photos for personal use. You can’t sell the photos or profit from them without getting prior permission but you can share them on social media.The official Eiffel Tower website confirms this information.
Funny, shocking or amusing? How did you find my list of the old french laws which are still valid in France. Which french most ridiculous law has shocked you the most? And did you hear about any other crazy, unusual laws still existing? Thanks for sharing!
All the images used in this post come from pixabay.com. Thank you!