A bystander on the beach, Marie Hebrard, told France3 that she witnessed the police officers, a man and a woman, talking to various women on the beach. One woman, who looked to be in her sixties, seemed confused after the conversation, according to Hebrard, and immediately dug into her purse and pulled out a top.
A lot of women in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer sunbathe topless, which is completely legal in many beaches in France.
Hebrard was furious. “I was so shocked at what was happening in front of my eyes,” Hebrard told the publication. “I went to see [the officers] and I asked them if for them, topless tanning was a violation of modesty? They asked me to move around and left the beach, just after my intervention.”
According to an update posted on August 25, the police were trying to mediate a situation and admitted it was executed “awkwardly.” A family with young kids, who had allegedly been shocked to see topless women lying on the beach, complained to police and asked them to intervene. The officers said that they explained to the women that it was for the benefit of the children nearby, not because they were in any legal trouble.
The town hall in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer responded to the news story, saying, “The city council and its mayor believe that the fact for a woman to tan with bare breasts is in no way constituting any attack on modesty or good morals.”
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