The French Speedo is Back as France strips down for the Climate
Saturday, April 01, 2023
Levant Island, off the coast of Hyérès, is one of France's naturist territories. From April to October locals and tourists roam free (of clothing). Find out why the French government is expanding its "no clothes zones" across the Hexagone and what, if any, effect this will have on Paris. First, today's French phrase:
"EN TENUE D'ADAM"
: in one's birthday suit, without a stitch on
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
In the three decades I've lived in France, I have witnessed a few cultural, economic, and social changes in my adopted country--the most extreme being the abrupt demise of la bise. Before that, there was the disappearance of the French franc. And the past decade has seen a particular custom disappearing as, little by little, on French beaches from coast to coast, the French are "covering up." Whereas you used to see a lot of topless women (and men in speedos), these days one-pieces for her (and long "board shorts" for him) are à la mode. While all this amounts to just a few more square inches of fabric (if you can call it that), environmentalists at the Paris Climate Summit say the trend of "seasonal overdressing"--or wearing more than necessary during warmer months--is having an effect on greenhouse gas emissions. So much so that global heating experts believe it is clothing--and not cows--that's the real culprit behind the climate crisis.
C'est les vêtements! Non pas les vaches!
"It's clothing! Not cows!" You may have seen this mantra on posterboards that began cropping up across France in March. It is no coincidence officials waited until Springtime to crack down on "Les SVs" (Les Sur-Vêtementés or Over-Clothed). But a new law will do more than crack down on clothes hounds, it will penalize anyone wearing too much clothing in summertime.
But just how much is too much clothing? According to France's climate minister, Philippe SansHabilles, 1 kilogram of clothing--or the equivalent of a t-shirt (350 grams), shorts (500 grams), and underwear (150 grams) even this much is a burden when you consider just how much energy it takes to machine wash and dry or produce the collected tons of clothing throughout France. (And you thought cow burps were to blame!)
Wear less, emit less....
As summer heats up, so do new legislative measures. By June 15, the clothing limits fall to 700 grams. In July, with the heatwave well underway (and when CO2 levels peak in Europe) citizens will be required to shed their "threads" by another 200 grams and to use the community lavoir to rinse what few articles of clothing they're still sporting.
By August it is rumored certain towns along the South coast will have the same stature as Île du Levant (France's "naturalist" island which I reported about here after ditching my jeans and t-shirt).
"Bring Back the Speedo!" A drastic measure to slow climate change has the French government scrambling for a solution.
Our town of La Ciotat happens to be within this bare-all jurisdiction and these extreme government measures are no longer a rumor but a soon-to-be reality. In order to drastically reduce the ecological footprint, citizens will be encouraged to go about "en costume d'Adam" or without a stitch of clothing. (Fig leaf optional.) Failure to wear less will result in une amende of 1500 euros (1629.60 USD) or two days of civil service (I can tell you from personal experience this is a super creepy job--even in Paris!). CCTV cameras are posed to record and track perpetrators and to assign points: the more points the fewer grams of clothing you're allowed the next time out.
Thankfully our mayor (more of a Prudist than a Nudist) has divided the town into zones:
Zone A ("Adam's Costume," or no clothing)
Zone B (Barely-Clad)
Zone C (Clothed--500 grams maximum)
For those like me who are prone to skin cancer, the city will be distributing free and unlimited crème solaire, but I won't be taking any. You will find this hopeless prude holed up at home. I can't bear the idea of seeing my neighbors naked (Zone A)--and don't want to catch our local policemen sporting speedos (Zone B)! Hallelujah, though. I just realized my church is in Zone C (but what will 500 grams of clothing look like on my brothers and sisters? Does this include shoe weight? Are shoes "clothes"? What about espadrilles(which have a lot of fabric)?
As you can imagine, there's a lot to consider given these drastic measures go into effect very soon. Meantime, if you are traveling to France this summer and if, like me, you'd like to keep your pants on, stick to Paris where the clothes hounds hang out. If you do come south, take heart: there is one day a year when such draconian laws are relaxed: April 1st. (Only an April Fool would be caught in their birthday suit today!)
Click here for the audio file and listen to these French words
être en tenue d'Adam = to be in your birthday suit
la bise = a French greeting wherein two people kiss
à la mode = in fashion
C'est les vêtements! Non pas les vaches! = It's clothing! Not cows!
les Sur Vêtementés = the Over Dressed
le lavoir = community wash basin
Île du Levant = Levant Island
une amende = a fine
le costume d'Adam = Adam's suit (to wear no clothes)
la crème solaire = sunblock
amicalement = yours
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
You didn't get me this year. I got half way through the first paragraph and thought...no way....she has done it again. The part about your skin cancer I am sure pulled many in. Well done!
Posted by: Joie | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 09:52 AM
HAHA, dat's a goot one, Kristie! We laughed over our breakfast and were on the brink of ditching everything to bask in (no) sun, but fortunately we read to the end.
I, too, worry about skin things even though we loved in our youth throwing care to the sun, so to speak. My mama warned me: you'll age twice as fast - stay OUT of the sun bathing for hours.
Wish I had listened, but we haven't been on our lovely beaches for any length of time for 15 years....sigh.
Your hubby is quite the centerfold.......
Posted by: Suzanne Dunaway | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 10:11 AM
Despite just having delivered my own poisson d'avail to my son, I was part way through your article before it dawned on me!!! Well done!
Posted by: Lorraine | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 10:28 AM
sorry, poisson d'avril - predictive text is awful!
Posted by: lorraine | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 10:29 AM
I loved it! Thank you...
Posted by: Debbie Cumming | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:01 AM
Very cute! One of your best April Fools!
Posted by: Ellen A | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:13 AM
haha, very good one!!
But on the topic of climate, it is all getting rather ridiculous...so I wouldn't be surprised if this did happen!
In NZ cows were blamed for their farts and causing global warming (true story, no April Fools... of course the farmers found it totally absurd).
On this particular subject of climate, it certainly seems to be getting a LOT of media air time and Company attention... climate points and ridiculous schemes for companies to get air points, by oddly doing things that are actually not good for the climate. It has become a total farce and just happens to be another new topic for their new agenda to fool and distract the masses from what is really going on.
Posted by: Kristina | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 12:31 PM
You got me! Read all the way to the end taking it as Gospel.
Posted by: John A. Hawke | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 12:54 PM
I wish it were true! I miss the old days on the beaches but perhaps with age restrictions now?
Posted by: Jim brown | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 01:40 PM
Great story-you had lots of good details and I was about to believe- but then I caught myself “what day is this!” Very nice try, a lot of thought went into this! Good job! Great photoshop!
Posted by: Judi | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 01:55 PM
I was almost halfway through before I realized it's April Fool's Day! Great job.
Posted by: Sharon Marchisello | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 01:58 PM
You did get me again! LOL!
Thanks for your fun post!
Posted by: Eileen | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 03:20 PM
Well done. Still drinking my first cup of coffee, I caught on in the penultimate paragraph!
Posted by: Muriel | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 04:02 PM
Philippe SansHabilles did it for me. You must start thinking about your next April Fool's post on April 2. Very clever!
Posted by: Jan in Colorado | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 04:08 PM
Bien fait, Kristi. I was sucked in for at least the first bit. It’s remarkable that you are successful at fooling us each year and we still don’t get it right away.
Posted by: Christine Webb-Curtis | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 04:22 PM
LOL I got it at Phillipe SansHabille! I’m pretty sure for footwear you’ll only be allowed hemp or vegan leather flip-flops. Possibly a straw hat, since it will reduce the amount of heat you will radiate, will be allowed.
Posted by: Anne | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 04:25 PM
Looked forward all week to see what you'd come up with this year. Excellent. Yup, less clothing should do it. I was thinking of a big space beach umbrella but that's not nearly as entertaining as the ABC neighborhoods. Thanks for today's giggle.
Posted by: Karen in NY | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:09 PM
Ha Ha. I was halfway through and it suddenly dawned on me that it is April 1. You did it again. Brilliant!
Posted by: Sherry Frank | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:21 PM
What an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke, Kristi! And it’s about time someone comes to the defense of les vaches!
Posted by: Joanne | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:29 PM
Love the photo of le chapeau! 😂
Posted by: Jean | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:33 PM
April Fools Day, ha ha! Monsieur Sanshabilles, the giveaway.....
Posted by: Maureen | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:37 PM
Every single year I fall for it!!! Such fun! Your post is always the best thing about April 1st!! Fantastic imagination and as always,your writing is superb❣
Posted by: Catherine | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 05:37 PM
Posted by: Jann Forth | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 06:02 PM
Tu ne m’as pas eu cette année! But, I love the story! so creative! Your tales are the best thing about April Fools Day! 👏🏻👏🏻😍
Posted by: Judy Feldman | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 06:23 PM
Very good - But I was ready for you this year!
Posted by: Linda A Frank | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 07:13 PM
Would you happen to have a link for your chapeau? I just love it!!
Posted by: Laurie | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 07:15 PM
Ha Ha. very funny - enjoyed your humor. We need to laugh at ourselves as much as possible to keep our perspective. Merci beaucoup.
Posted by: Nancy | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 07:57 PM
You got me this year! I bought it hook, line and sinker. One of your best, Kristi! 😂
Posted by: Emily | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 07:59 PM
Thank you, Laurie. Are you referring to the straw hat on the beach in todays photo? That wonderful hat was left to us by one of the harvesters at our first vendange. I wore it for years and then gave it to a dear friend. I do not know where to find another one.
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 08:06 PM
It's back to the catacombs for you, ma fille! Cute...
Posted by: Joan | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 08:31 PM
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 08:50 PM
Always creative and always amusing poisson d'avril ! Merci beaucoup !
Posted by: Susan | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 08:51 PM
This was a good one. I did believe in the beginning but then thought it rather absurd. That you for you
April Fool’s jokes.
Posted by: Kathleen | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 09:28 PM
This is maybe the first year I have been onto you! Nonetheless I enjoyed every moment. Your poisson d'avril stories are exceptionally entertaining.
I burst out laughing at SansHabille.
Posted by: Leslie NYC | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 09:34 PM
Since I too have noticed that those going topless are only the older crowd (so old fashioned) I thought you were telling the truth until I started to tell my spouse. Then I swerved - April Fools! Thanks for making it so believable!
Posted by: Ginger Sheridan | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 10:46 PM
Excellent, you got me, I was even thinking how I was going to relay this horrendous news on Instagram!! The Speedo, you may know, is an Australian invention and we also call them Budgie Smugglers, no explanation needed perhaps but just in case a budgerigar is a small parrot like bird native to Australia!
I look forward to your stories, all the best to you and your family.
Posted by: Carmel | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:14 PM
You had me for a while, but I slowly woke up to reality. Thanks for yet another April 1st chuckle.
Posted by: Gloria Maxwell | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:19 PM
I was ready for you this year but what a fun story’nn
Happy April 1st!!!
Posted by: Devra | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:42 PM
I would have been totally fooled, if I had not received an email from Home Exchange, offering the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, and the Eiffel Tower as sites for home exchanges, so I wised up pretty quickly. But I did spend a few minutes trying to figure out how I could possibly dress to meet the "code."
Posted by: Carol Swenson | Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 11:49 PM
Superb! Brilliantly convincing till the Minister of Climate was named, Kristi -- and just as brilliantly detailed to the very end too. It's a cold day of wind and driving rain here in Niagara Region today, but laughter has me toasty and delighted to the nth!! Merci millefois for this gem!
Posted by: Kitty Wilson-Pote | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 12:05 AM
Superb! You almost got me! I was just forwarding your post to my family and then I realized it was April Fools’ Day. Hahahaha! Very well done!
Posted by: Anita R Mires | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 12:12 AM
It took me a while to get this, but suddenly I remembered it was April Fool's day! ....so I scrolled down to see that others had also figured it out. Good on you!
Posted by: Mary Ann Boysen | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 12:23 AM
Hahaha 🤣 you totally got me!!!!
Posted by: Gail in AZ | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 03:47 AM
I love that you do this every year, as when a child we always used to hurry to school so that we could be the first to say “A pinch and a punch for the first of the month! April Fool!” And of course, we would play-act the pinch and a punch very gently to the person we’d caught out.
The expected reply, or course, was “A punch and a kick for being so quick!” With lots of giggles and mirth in return.
Sadly, I never hear it now, so I don’t really know if children do this anymore…does anyone know if it is still done?
Bravo Kristin! You get us every year! 🙄🙄
Posted by: Julie | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 04:36 AM
You got me!! So funny 🤣 Well done.
Posted by: Pam | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 06:09 AM
Bien fait! you had me for a couple of sentences!
Th e first nude beach I was on was when I ws in school in France and we hitch hiked to Greece. I was with French friends, and okay, I took off my top. I was okay with that, since we were speaking French. No Americans seemed to be on the island it was definitely a French paradise in Greece. And so a week later I took off the bottom. Such freedoms, I loved it. And then one night at dinner in town a man came upon to me and said, in American English, that he had seen me on the beach and heard I was American. So was he. I freaked! No more nude beach for Mel. I was not going to be nude in English!
Posted by: Ellyn | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 07:20 AM
Haha! Great story!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 07:33 AM
QUE TU ES MECHANTE. TU M'AS EU TOTALEMENT! Brenda, Sydney, OZ
Posted by: Brenda Dabelstei | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 08:41 AM
Every year I am astonished or appalled by your post. This year I started reading (astonished) and thought …. What is the date?? I laughed out loud at myself and you. You are so very clever and creative. I would welcome some of those laws so I didn’t feel that I have to cover my old batwing arms in the summer. I love sleeveless tops! How many grams are the sleeves?
Thank you, my friend.
Posted by: Adrienne | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 06:00 PM
Tu m’avais eu! J’ai lu t’histoire à mon mari et on était en train de rater de cette règle ridicule. Et puis, je l’ai fini… tu m’avais eu !! Comme d'habitude, c'est une bonne histoire et c’était croyable aux personnes crédules !
Posted by: Jeanine Woods | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 06:31 PM
Posted by: Kathryn Duchene | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 07:15 PM
I forwarded this to a friend in Villefranche sur Mer and you hooked her. Jann was reading it to me yesterday, and I casually looked over to her and said, "It's April first, isn't it? I guess I know the French better than I thought. If we think the current demonstrations are something, this would have topped even that.
Posted by: Gerry Forth | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 07:40 PM
I look forward to the Poisson d"Avril story each year. I was laughing the whole way through this one. Good job, Kristi!
Posted by: Maeleine de la Fontaine | Sunday, April 02, 2023 at 09:03 PM
Ha Ha Ha ... I started reading and then thought, "what is the date of this post?" Your April 1 posts are THE best Kristi! You are so creative!
Posted by: Suzanne in NJ | Tuesday, April 04, 2023 at 09:14 PM
Hahahah--poisson d'avril !
Posted by: Pamela | Saturday, April 08, 2023 at 06:14 PM