Intent on keeping panhandlers from damaging its tourist appeal, Nice has become the 13th city on the French Riviera to ban summertime begging, the Associated Press reports. The ban, which runs through Sept. 15, makes it illegal for beggars to approach pedestrians in Nice’s downtown and certain designated neighborhoods.
Twelve other cities along France’s posh Co^te d’Azur have passed similar laws. They contend that aggressive solicitation from homeless people in the area has driven away tourists. In Nice, police have been ordered not to make arrests but instead to pick up anyone caught begging and take them outside the city limits. Sometime after July 1, beggars will be offered food, bathrooms and medical attention at a shelter now being set up by the city.
A week after Nice’s action, the city of Avignon, a popular tourist destination in the south of France, followed suit. Human rights groups have charged that the aim of the bans is to clear streets of the homeless rather than help them.