The 62-year-old man named only as Joel, a long-time naturist, ran into trouble when he came across a group of people while out walking in the famous forest this summer.
“I was walking on a fairly wide path when I saw some people around 80 meters away. I quickly pulled on a sarong, but when I approached the group I realized it was the police,” Joel was quoted as saying in Le Parisien newspaper.
“They told me that indecent exposure is forbidden, that it was a crime and that they would take action against me,” he said. “I was summoned to the police station the next day.”
Joel said he often goes walking in the nude in groups that include women and children, but that he was alone on that day, because he couldn’t find any other fellow naked hikers.
This week he appeared in court in Fontainebleau charged with indecent exposure. He has refused to recognize the offence, meaning his case could be sent to a criminal court and if found guilty he could face a hefty fine and up to a year behind bars.
He’s not the first naturist to run into trouble with the long arm of the law for taking everything off but his walking boots.
Most walkers who are pulled up by police accept to pay the fine and take a warning but some see that as an admission of guilt and do not want to be deemed as sex offenders.
They, like Joel, take their fight to court, but the battle can often prove costly, even if they win.
Almost one year ago The Local France reported the case of a man from Dordogne who was freed by a court after being charged with indecent exposure after bumping into a mother and her son on a nude stroll through the woods. The verdict was seen as a landmark ruling.
A court in the town of Perigueux accepted the 52-year-old man's defence that he was no flasher after hearing testimony that he had once suffered an eye-watering injury after jumping into bushes to spare the blushes of a passer-by.
The man was supported through the court process by France’s naturist group Apnel (Association pour la promotion du naturisme en liberté), which is also backing Joel, for his nude foray into the forest of Fontainebleau.
Apnel’s president Sylvie Fasol said: “There is no reason why we should be treated the same as a real sexual exhibitionist.”
Speaking to Le Parisien, Apnel’s lawyer Tewfik Bouzenoune again called for the law to be clarified so naturists are not forced to go through the same ordeal.
“The law is unclear and not precise enough,” he said. “We need to have a debate about this once and for all.”