Sometimes I get France. And sometimes I don’t. Take the law for instance.
In my local café in which the locals gather to gossip, a recent topic of debate was about the misfortunes of a baker who owns a boulangerie near Troyes in the Champagne region. He decided to open his boulangerie 7 days a week in the summer of 2017 in order to serve the needs of the many tourists who flocked to the area. All well and good you might think, but non. Someone, who is not owning up to it, reported him for contravening a local decree that prevents anyone working 7 days a week, even if it is their own business and they choose to do so. The labour union that was tasked with enforcing the law was apparently reluctant to do so, especially as the baker was supported by the local Mayor and residents. They asked other local business owners if they agreed that the baker should be fined. Astoundingly, the result was yes, and the baker was fined €3000. So far, he has refused to cough up.
Illegal to call a pig Napoleon in France
You might think that strange enough but there’s more. I have a plastic pig in my garden – don’t ask, I don’t know why I bought it but plastic animals are popular in my part of France, so it doesn’t look as out of place as you might think! I did think about getting real pigs but it’s a lot of work mucking them out and with 70 animals already, I’m not inclined to do more mucking stuff. I told Annie the local café owner about my plastic cochon and said I was going to call it Napoleon. “Ah non” she said, “You can’t do that, it’s against the law”. And, it’s true. It’s illegal to call a pig Napoleon in France, maybe even a plastic one.
Against the law to kiss at a train station in France
There are plenty of peculiar laws in France I’ve since discovered. Did you know for instance it’s illegal to kiss at a train station in France? No one seems to be aware as far as I can tell as I travel a lot on the trains and see plenty of smooching.
There is a centuries old law that requires all French citizens keep a haystack handy, in case the King passes by and needs hay for his horse. Curiously enough, I actually comply with the law here, my chickens have plenty of hay and should the King of France ever come trotting by and require some, he’s welcome to it.
Perhaps the most odd law of all is that it is legal in France to marry a dead person, though you do need the permission of the President and you must have a good reason to do so.
I still have much to learn about France it seems, and some of it is very quaint!