The rules of swimming attire in France

Ah French swimwear rules and regulations. Always a topic that is interesting shall we say?  For years customers have been baffled, amused and downright confused by our Gallic friends’ quirky demand that male swimmers abandon baggy swim-shorts in favour of the more tight-fitting trunks (affectionately nicknamed “budgie smugglers”).


Camping la Sirène

Skimpy swimwear in France is nothing new. It was in fact a French engineer who invented the bikini in 1946, causing much uproar worldwide for its indecency, but survey any French public swimming pool and you’ll see that the country’s love of material-lacking swimwear has never quite disappeared.

We don’t all want to flaunt what we’ve got for all to see, so we realise that deciding what to wear to the pool in France, particularly for men, can sometimes be a bit of a sensitive situation. Everyone wants to feel comfortable on holiday – it’s usually the only time of the year that you can truly kick back and relax. The last thing you want is the ‘trunk-police’ ruining your peace!

So, once and for all we debunk the myths and dispel the rumours about what you can and can’t wear when swimming in France (and beyond!).

Why can’t I wear what I want?

We work with many campsites, all with differing rules, so we do always try and stay on top of who can wear what and where. Now we’re going to look at the why.

Not health and safety I hear you cry. Unfortunately yes, the swimwear rules are put in place for hygiene reasons. Our friends at Château de Boisson shed some light on this often confusing situation: “it is unlikely that men will wear tight-fitting swimwear other than at the pool area whereas swimming shorts and Bermuda shorts could arguably be worn all day long and the accumulated dirt and perspiration then all passes into the swimming pool if they then subsequently use the same shorts for bathing.”

If you don’t fancy nipping down to your local high street to grab a pair of trunks, then don’t fret, the campsites that enforce the rules will usually sell them in an on-site shop.

The rules for women seem to be that regular swimsuits and bikinis are fine as most people wouldn’t wear them out and about for a day of sightseeing.


Sit back and relax

 So what about the rest of Europe?

Rules in Spain and Italy are a bit more relaxed on the subject of swimming trunks but Italy in particular has a love of swimming caps. The laws require that everybody, regardless of  how much (or how little) hair they have, must wear a swimming cap when in a public pool. Don’t worry about looking silly, just take a glance around!

Please always check our campsite information online or in our brochure to see if it’s a ‘swimming trunks compulsory’ or a ‘swimming caps compulsory’ site. Always best to be prepared!

No-one is out to ruin your fun, or to make you feel uncomfortable so we hope this helps the next time you find yourself packing for your well-deserved summer holiday.

Sites where trunks are enforced:

Ardèche & Cevennes

Camping la Plage Fleurie, Camping les Tours


Domaine des OrmesCamping Château de BoissonChâteau de l’EpervièreCamping Le ChâteletEscale St Gilles, Camping la Baie du Kernic 


Domaine d’Anghione 

Côte d’Azur

Camping Esterel


Domaine de la Paille BasseCamping La PalombièreCamping Aqua Viva 

French Alps

La Ferme de la Serraz & Camping L’Idéal

Jura & Loire

Domaine de ChalainCamping la PergolaChâteau des MaraisChâteau de la Grenouillère


Camping Cala GogoCamping Mar I SolMar Estang Camping ClubLes Méditerranées – Beach GardenCamping le CastellasCamping la MarineCamping le PalavasCamping l’Europe, Camping le Neptune 

Normandy & Picardy 

Yelloh! Village la ValléeCamping du GolfCamping la Bien Assise 


Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont & Camping les Etangs Fleuris


Camping le Coteau de la MarineDomaine des Iscles, Domaine du Verdon 

South West France & Royan

Camping Le Vieux PortAtlantic Club MontalivetCamping Eurolac, Camping les Vignes, Domaine de la RiveCamping Sen YanCamping Col VertCamping Côte d’Argent, Camping Lou Pignada OndresSequoia ParkDomaine d’Oléron


Camping La YoleCamping du JardCamping AcapulcoL’Océano d’Or


Lake Garda

Camping Eden & Camping Europa Silvella


Camping Village San Francesco Camping Tahiti 


Camping Tonnara


Vilanova ParkTamarit Park, Camping Playa Montroig 


  1. this is such a shame. My husband has an ileostomy which renders swimming trunks unsuitable for him. as he does not like it visible to all for obvious reasons . Maybe some-one needs to look into things like this. He is certainly more hygienic than kids in trunks peeing in the pool!

  2. We’ve only had a problem with this in the Cote d’Azur, although we don’t go in the high season. My husband wears short swimming shorts not long shorts but does take trunks just in case.

  3. Thanks for going to the effort of creating this list. My other half hates wearing trunks and this makes it much easier for us to book our holiday as he’d rather stay at a campsite where trunks are not compulsory.

  4. I appreciate the list but would really like a list that tells me which Parks do tolerate our baggy shorts as it seems to be a deal breaker when choosing a holiday . I personally love the tight trunks but understand the issue and it is preventing me from booking my holiday!

  5. Wish I’d googled this topic and come across this website earlier….I’m in Haute Savoie at the moment for the school holiday, and took the kids to an indoor swimming pool today. It’s the first time I’ve been to a pool in France as we’ve just swum in lake Annecy every year. Anyway, me and the boys walked into the pool wearing swimming shorts only to be told to leave (politely) by the pool attendants. To cut a long story short, I had to walk back out to the reception (just wearing my shorts) and buy 3 pairs of ‘Speedos’ from a vending machine, leg it back to the pool, drag the boys out back into the changing room, and then back in the pool !
    I wasn’t amused and felt rather ‘exposed’ having never worn anything that skimpy. I questioned the pool staff and they said it’s a matter of hygiene. When I asked relatives later in the day, they said it’s to prevent things like pubic hair falling into the pool….OK, fair enough, but why stop my 4 and 6 year old boys from wearing shorts !

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