In today's New York Times: By ELAINE SCIOLINO Published: August 1, 2006 PARIS, July 31 "” Paris is proud of its spirit of exhibitionism, so the front-page newspaper headline last weekend that the city's man-made beach was enforcing a ban on thongs and bare breasts came as a bit of a shock. Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters The Paris beach rules say no thongs and no topless sunbathers. Not only that, the article in the tabloid Le Parisien reported, but the police might go so far as to hand out a $48 fine for anyone who refused to cover up. "Heat wave or not, appropriate dress is required," the article proclaimed. Even if the thermometer hits 98 degrees in the shade, it added, "young women in search of cool relief are requested to stay decent and not expose their bodily forms to the eyes of passers-by." This being France, there are rules for just about every sort of behavior. And this being France, even when there are rules, there may also be tolerance when they are broken, particularly when it comes to beach attire. On paper, there has been all along a four-chapter code of conduct governing Paris-Plages, as the sand-in-the-city installation is known. Among the rules are bans on political, commercial, religious or union demonstrations; unauthorized freelance entertainment (fire-eaters and jugglers, for example); activities that are "dangerous or contrary to public order," like gambling; and "indecent dress (nudity, thongs, monokinis, etc.)." A monokini is a one-piece swimsuit that covers only the bottom. "We have a very soft system of security here," said Yvan Hinnemann, a manager of Paris-Plages. "It's a matter of prevention. This is a space of freedom, but if people want to see breasts, they should go to the Lido, or the Moulin Rouge." The beach is patrolled by a combination of City Hall security police officers carrying tear gas, armed members of the National Police and a private security force of men in black polo shirts, shorts and boots who resemble nightclub bouncers. The biggest security problem, said one private security agent, is "perverts and voyeurs," who are turned over to the National Police. In most cases, indecent exposure can be resolved with a warning, and no one has been fined for scanty attire. When one woman refused to cover her breasts recently, the agent said, he showed her a copy of the code of conduct. She put on her bikini top. The faux resort along the Seine has been one of City Hall's biggest success stories. Created in 2002 as an egalitarian reward to dwellers of the landlocked capital with no country escape, it attracted 3.8 million visitors last summer. It has spawned copies in other French cities like Toulouse and Lille and in other European capitals like Brussels and Rome. This year, as in other years, the city trucked in 2,000 tons of sand and dozens of palm trees and transformed a two-mile stretch of the Seine into a beach. For the first time this year, the beach has expanded to the left bank of the river. Visitors line up for free shiatsu massages, dance lessons, games of boules and volleyball, a trampoline and a climbing wall. There is free access to Ikea chaises longues, outdoor showers, hammocks and parasols. As the theme of the beach this year is Tahiti, there are ersatz rain forests and Polynesian huts. Maori dancers, musicians and storytellers entertain the crowd. Corporate sponsors pick up 60 percent of the $2.7 million annual bill. Among some sunbathers, the flouting of the dress code mingles with relief that it might not be enforced wholeheartedly. "We have so many problems in our country that deciding whether you take off your top or wear a thong is so trivial," said Monique Ferrero, a 42-year-old government employee whose bikini bottom was rolled to show off her buttocks. "What's more important is that people who have to work all summer have a place to sunbathe and feel like they're on vacation. If it's forbidden to be bare, I don't care." There seem to be as many men as women with bare buttocks. But the consensus seemed to be that only women were at risk. "To stop women from wearing thongs, it's just so outrageous," said Rafael Santos, a tanned and well-oiled Brazilian property manager whose tiny Speedo revealed part of his buttocks. But some sunbathers want limits. "We are still in the city, and we can be seen by people walking in the streets, especially tourists," said Monique Lefranc, a 60-year-old grandmother dressed in a blouse and slacks. "What kind of impression will they have of us? Last week, I saw people sunbathing naked in a lake at the Bois de Vincennes. I found it very shocking." A small number of homeless people have pitched tents on the banks of the Seine close to the beach. City Hall has resisted the temptation to evict the squatters, whose tents were provided by their protectors, the group Doctors of the World. The elegant Simone de Beauvoir footbridge in eastern Paris was opened as an extension of Paris-Plages this month "” with a tremor. It is staying open to pedestrians and cyclists, but it will need extra supports. The Josephine Baker floating swimming pool moored on the left bank of the Seine had to be closed just three days after its inauguration this month. The air-conditioning in the gym failed; tiles in the pool began to come loose. It was hastily repaired and has since reopened. All the fuss about nakedness seems surreal in a country where bare-breasted women are routinely featured on the covers of mainstream magazines and on enormous billboards at newspaper kiosks. A special report on "fesses" (buttocks) graced the cover of the French Elle magazine in June. France is also celebrating with pride the invention of the bikini by a Frenchman 60 years ago this month. It was the summer of 1946, when Louis RÃard, an automotive-engineer-turned-fashion-designer, introduced "le bikini" at a Paris swimming pool. He named it after an American atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean a few days before. Mr. RÃard could not find a model willing to wear the scandalous garment. He had to use a striptease dancer. Splashy photo displays in magazines show the bikini icons of history: Brigitte Bardot in the film "The Girl in the Bikini"; Ursula Andress in a belted white model in the James Bond film "Dr. No"; Marilyn Monroe in a white-ruffled, polka-dotted version. A social history of the bikini has been published. Still, the garment was banned on French beaches until well into the 1950's.