Pants-less in Paris? Old law bans pants for women

A model presents a creation by French designer Zahia Dehar, on the sidelines of the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 collection shows on January 23, 2013 in Paris. PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

PARIS If it isn't already daunting enough to pack for a trip to fashionable Paris, female visitors, beware: It's illegal to wear pants.

So says a law dating from 1800 that has never been taken off the books — only relaxed to allow women the comfort of two legs when riding bicycles or horses.

French parliamentarians have occasionally pushed for the law to be set aside, and a senator from the opposition UMP party recently asked again for the government to do just that.

The Ministry for Women's Rights said what everyone was thinking last week: This law has been superseded by other laws, including the Constitution's commitment to equal rights.

But the ministry said it remains on the books "as an element of the archives kept by the Paris police."

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