Breaking The Law In France

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It looks like your average vacation shot, but apparently, this was illegal activity.  Just like the Judas Priest song, I was “Breakin the Law.”  I’ve done it too (but the photos are just too bad to post). It wasn’t intentional.  I didn’t have drugs, wasn’t intoxicated or carrying stolen goods.

The problem is what the girl on the left is wearing.  In 1799, post-Revolution France enacted a law banning women from wearing pants in Paris, the French capital.  Female renegades wore (gasp) long trousers to show their to the wealthy who wore fashionable knee-length culottes.  This began a political movement named ‘sans-culottes’ (which translates literally to no underwear).

For women, wearing any form of menswear in public required government permission in order to be legal.  Often, obtaining permission required a medical reason.  I’m guessing that “I didn’t feel like shaving my legs this morning” just wouldn’t have passed muster.  Ironically, the law didn’t seem to stop Parisian fashion houses from starting the military look, suits or menswear fashion trends every decade or so.

 

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Car-Free Towns

Many “old towns” are (almost completely) car free.  Many towns, use a system of passes and barriers to ensure that the streets remain traffic free while allowing residents parking, taxis access and permitting deliveries.

Many streets in city centers are reserved for local business people, residents, city buses, or pedestrians. To enforce this the entry to the street is always marked as such, in the local language and with standard signs, and is often blocked by a couple of 8″ diameter steel posts rising up from the road. Those with permits have a swipe card which lowers the posts momentarily so they can drive through. If you try to sneak through right after someone goes in you might hear a sort of crunching sound as the posts come up under your car. This will be embarrassing and expensive.

Some of the car-free towns we have visited include:

To encourage walking, biking and the use of public transport, many European cities make it hard (and/or costly) to park.

  • limit the amount of parking spaces
  • implement or increase parking fees
  • Fees paid for parking are sometimes used to encourage non-car transportation.

Eliminating parking spaces in Copenhagen has made room for high-quality pedestrian districts and bike paths, while street space once used by cars has likewise been repurposed in Paris for bike sharing and tramways.