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Priests hit out at bikini-wearing visitors

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Priests hit out at bikini-wearing visitors
Adam Dodd
10:35 CEST+02:00

Churches across France have become overrun by tourists in skimpy beachwear, showing off bare stomachs and wearing baseball caps, according to priests who have spoken out about the drop in standards.

A report in regional newspaper Midi Libre claims that religious leaders have tired of the increasingly disrespectful dress codes of some visitors.

“Our church is right by the beach,” said Father Martin Gabet of the Notre Dame des Anges de Collioure church, close to the Spanish border. “As a result, lots of people come in wearing their swimwear. There have even been people who come in just to change their clothes.”

It’s the same story in the jetset resort of Saint-Tropez, according to Father Michel Hayes.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he told the newspaper, commenting that many come in with “baseball caps nailed to their heads” and then set about “having picnics on the pews.”

“We are in a society where people go unthinkingly from the beach to a museum, from a fast-food restaurant to a cathedral,” said Monsignor Bernard Podvin, a spokesman for the bishops’ association, Conférence des évêques de France.

Nor is Lyon's impressive basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, which dominates France’s second-largest city, immune to visitors' sloppy manners and sartorial peccadilloes.

Its rector told the newspaper that some visitors walk in “smoking or with their dogs” and are happy to “show off their bare backs, bare stomachs and even their pierced belly buttons.” He added that some wander around “as if they were in a train station.”

In the north-west town of Rouen, church administrators think they have found a solution. Visitors pass by staff who are able to give “remarks and reflections” on their attire before they enter into the main part of the cathedral.

“It might seem a bit uncivilized, but it’s proven to be really effective,” said Dominique Canu, a cathedral manager.

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