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Weird French laws that are still technically valid in France

Did you know all these things that you are not supposed to do in France?

Many of France’s old laws are still in place Pic: AlexLMX//Shutterstock

France’s commitment to culture, history and language has resulted in many bizarre laws being introduced over time, many of which still exist today. 

From laws on music to protect the French language to kissing on train platforms to protect train timetables, each one of these strange seeming measures began with some meaning behind it. 

Which do you think is the strangest? 

French music on French radio stations 

A law introduced in 1994 states that all French radio stations must ensure that at least 40% of the songs they play are in French. 

The law was initially introduced to help maintain French culture and limit the encroachment of Anglo-Saxon culture in the country by helping to nurture French talent. 

However, in 2015 a number of radio stations opposed the law after French authorities accused them of playing popular French songs on repeat in order to fill the quota. 

To tackle this the government proposed limiting the number of times the most popular French songs could be played, in order to ensure others were played.

However, many stations opposed this and said it was a suppression of liberty. Stations took part in a 24 hour boycott stating that the number of albums recorded in French had dropped by 66% between 2003 and 2014. 

Eventually in 2016 a compromise was made; the authorities lowered the required percentage of French songs from 40% to 35%. 

However they required newer French music to be played in the place of the typically famous tracks which previously filled most of the quota. 

Alcohol is banned in the workplace. Apart from certain drinks… 

Nearly all alcohol is banned in the workplace in France, apart from wine, beer, cider and pear cider. 

These drinks are permitted by the authorities during a meal or celebration in the place of work. 

Ketchup banned in French schools 

Back in 2011, ketchup was banned in French schools in an attempt to curb a rise in unhealthy eating among children and young people and to preserve French food culture. . 

The only dish ketchup could be served with was frites (chips), but these were only permitted to be served once a week. 

Whilst still technically law how much it is actually enforced… 

Read also: Is it illegal to call a pig Napoleon in France?

Legal to marry a dead person in France

In France, in exceptional circumstances, you can by law marry someone who is already dead although it must be authorised by the President of the Republic. 

This law was introduced in 1959 by Charles de Gaulle after a dam burst in Malpasset, killing hundreds of people. Among them was the fiancé of a pregnant lady, who was permitted to marry her dead partner posthumously. 

For the marriage to occur, there must be proof that the deceased intended to marry before their death. 

Kissing banned on train platforms in France 

According to a 1910 law, again technically still in place in France, it is illegal to kiss on train platforms.

This law came into force just before the first world war, as soldiers prepared to leave their loved ones to go to the trenches. People spent long times on the packed platforms saying emotional goodbyes to their family members, causing long delays. 

The law was thus originally introduced in an attempt to limit the delays caused by families and couples kissing each other goodbye on the platforms. 

While it remains in place no formal penalty exists so you should be safe to share a goodbye kiss before catching the train. 

Eating at your desk is banned

Eating at your desk in your workplace is banned in France. 

There was a brief pause on this law during the covid pandemic when the measure was lifted in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus, however this was only for a limited time. 

Now eating at your desk could see the employer fined and the employee face a disciplinary sanction. 

According to the size of the business, companies are required to put in place spaces where workers can eat away from their desks. 

For example, companies with less than 50 employees must provide a space where employees can eat safely and hygienically, while companies with more than 50 employees must provide an area with refrigeration and heating facilities, water taps and a sufficient number of tables and chairs. 

The measure was altered during the pandemic in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus, however until then the law remained in place. 

Originally it was introduced to maintain hygienic conditions in the workplace

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