Nudity in the French Penal Code
Article 222-32 of the French Penal Code states that "sexual exhibition in plain sight of others in a place accessible to the public is punishable by one year's imprisonment and a 15,000 euros fine". What does that mean? Well, simply that it is forbidden to show oneself naked in public places where nudity is not permitted. If you practice naturism on a beach or some other place where it is neither authorized nor tolerated, you therefore expose yourself, in the worst case, to one year in prison and a fine of up to €15 000. If you go on a hike without clothes, with only your shoes on and your backpack.... on your back, you can be scolded, even denounced by hikers who cross your path. This is also why naturist centers must be rather isolated, so that practitioners are not seen by non-practitioners. In addition, they must be ruled by a municipal decree.
Being naked from the waist up is tolerated
Sexual exhibition involves the genitals. Ladies, if you want to go topless, then you don't have to go to a naturist beach to do so. This exception only applies to beaches and certain swimming areas such as lakes. In the street, however, you should cover your chest. Gentlemen, if you like to walk around topless on sunny days, you usually won't have a problem. However, in some sea resorts and towns, a law enforcement official may ask you to get dressed if he thinks you may offend other people's sensibilities.
At home almost) total freedom
You may be tempted to believe that you are free to do what you want at home. However, you should know that you do not have complete freedom when it comes to taking off your clothes, including in your home or on your property. Your neighbors have the right to complain if they see you naked on your balcony or terrace. It is also forbidden to be naked in your garden if it overlooks the public highway and is not out of sight.
French law vs naturists
In France, naturism is not as well accepted as in other European countries such as Finland (where nudity is accepted everywhere), Germany or Austria. Natursits complain that the law does not make a clear distinction between people who do not hide their bodies (naturists) from those who force others to see them (exhibitionists). To avoid unpleasant surprises, enjoy naturism on the beaches and in the areas devoted to it and protected by law, or in one of a France 4 Naturisme's naturist center.