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'Made in France' sex toys set to stimulate economy

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A selection of Eiffel Tower sex toys available from La Tour Est Folle. A new co-op hopes their Made in France erotic products can stimulate the French economy. Photo: La Tour Est Folle
19:00 CEST+02:00
As French businesses struggle to perform on the world stage, and the government promotes ‘Made in France' as a winning brand, one pair of entrepreneurs are convinced they have come up with the next big thing: sex toys, à la française.

The ‘Plaisir de France' co-op was launched in recent weeks with the aim of breaking the monopoly of major sex toy producers whose products are made en masse in China, before being distributed throughout the world.

Co-founders Sébastien Lecca and Stéphane Turc plan instead to offer adventurous French consumers erotic goods from more than a dozen French companies, designed with imagination and crafted with care in France, with a French market in mind.

“We all know about Chinese, American, German sex toy makers. The goal of Plaisir de France is to raise awareness of the talents of French sex toy producers,” Lecca told The Local on Wednesday.

In order to boost business for its members, the association is intended to pool resources and experience on some of the practical roadblocks that sex toy makers can face.

“Banks won't finance projects like these because they consider them pornographic. Even when you come to them with a viable business plan, they tell us that there's an ethical problem," said Lecca, whose stand-out product so far is an Eiffel Tower-shaped dildo, called the ‘La Tour Est Folle' (the tower is crazy).

The rubber sex toy's website prides itself on offering a "monumental sensation", as well as being hypoallegenic and made entirely in France.

La Tour Est Folle also boasts that the product contains no fat, whale oil, nails, screws, soy, GMOs, or radioactive material, and that it once successfully gave French adult film star Julie Valmont an orgasm.

Lecca has vowed not to stop at the Eiffel Tower, however. He has some further erotic designs up his sleeve based on France's Iron Lady.

“I'm working on an XL version of the Eiffel Tower, as well as one with an LED light at the top, and one with a motorised vibrator in it,” he told The Local.

“I chose the Eiffel Tower to begin with, because it's so famous, and also well known for having a phallic shape.”

But Lecca does not want to restrict himself to France and its most famous monument. He has a desire to sex up some of the world's most famous landmarks.

“I'd love to do a sex toy of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the pyramids Pyramids and Big Ben” he added.

'The French are way behind the British'

Stéphane Turc, who founded the Eymalis sex toy company, laments how expensive it can be to get an erotic business off the ground in France.

“Making a sex toy mould costs twice as much in France as it does in China,” he told French daily 20 Minutes.

The obstacles facing French purveyors of vibrators, dildos, lingerie and poppers, however, are as much cultural as they are financial.

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Despite their reputation as great lovers, the French have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to their indulgence in the odd naughty game, it would seem.

“The French are way behind other European countries, especially the British,” said Lecca.

“The problem is primarily educational. We want to open up the French people to the joys of lingerie, sex toys, massage oils, fantasy, and games,” he added.

According to a 2010 survey for the Sexyprivé website, 22 percent of French men and women claimed to have bought a sex toy in the last year, a further 36 percent however said they'd be interested in acquiring one.

That's a potential market that Plaisir de France and its members will be hoping to tap into over the coming years, in an effort to encourage growth in the French economy, as it were.

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