L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

01 August 2008 Blog Home : August 2008 : Permalink

Topless Sunbathing

The Torygraph had an article yesterday about something close to home, namely the scenic beaches of the Riviera and how the mobile scenery on them is become less picturesque:

According to reports coming from France, sunbathers on the Cote d'Azur, who once adopted a "laissez faire" attitude to nakedness, have turned against displaying too much bare flesh.

Even regulars at La Voile Rouge beach club on Pampelonne's Beach, in St. Tropez, where it all started shortly after the actress' film And God Created Woman, prefer to keep their top on.

If I'd been in town (I was driving to Milano) I'd have been forced to do an onsite inspection to verify the truth or otherwise of this statement. It has to be said that I don't generally go down to the beach in the summer months because it takes forever to get through the traffic jams and the beaches tend to be heaving with humanity when you do make it down there, not to menton the reasons stated by The Remittance Man so I can't comment on it too knowledgably.

However I'm not completely out of touch and in the interests of setting the record straight I will note that although topless sunbathing may be becoming less popular, it isn't dying out. In May there were plenty of breasts to be seen and I doubt that the increase in total numbers will have reduced the proportion. It is true that when I was a wee nipper taken by the parents to Normandy and Brittany there was a lot more bared breasts than you see today but the change seems to have been a gradual one.

The question is why? The Torygraph suggests a combination of fashion, cancer fear and fear of offending muslim immigrants. That latter one should really have the "offending" omitted to stand a chance of being accurate. I suspect the answer is all three. Due to cancer scares fashions are changing to more clothing and less lying on the beach turning into a tomato. Not completely, you still see people with the bonzed skin that means they'll have the kind of leathery skin associated with orangutangs later in life, but in general people are becoming less bronzed.

So how about the fear of immigrants? not their sensibilities that is but the fear that they will decide to follow you down a backstreet and rape you. Possibly. Certainly I note that you tend to get a better scenery ratio in less frequented beaches. But given the revealing nature of your regular bikini I'm not sure this really holds up either. We're not seeing "burkinis" or other tents. Nor am I (at least) noting a lack of bared midriffs or tight skirts/shorts/jeans off the beach. So probably not that either to a great extent.

All in all one suspects the entire tale to be made up by journalists in London working on the "Sour Grapes" principle.