London, July 31 : Topless women sunbathing on the beach may soon a thing of the past, at least in France, for large number of ladies are ditching their penchant for a little harmless nudity, says a new report.
French women who once adopted a "laissez faire" attitude to nakedness, have turned against displaying too much bare flesh, the report says.
Regulars at La Voile Rouge beach club on Pampelonne's Beach, in St. Tropez, where the topless sunbathing 'ritual' started, now prefer to keep their top on.
The development has sparked a minor debate in the country that has always prided itself on being less prudish than its Anglo-Saxon neighbours.
For some it is simply a change in fashion, for others it marks a new conservatism sweeping France. Yet others say it is to do with increased health concerns about skin cancer and sensitivities to the growing Muslim community.
"It is seen as a bit vulgar now," Telegraph quoted Sabina Hourdin, 38, from Paris, holidaying in St Tropez, as saying.
"It is like mini-skirts. You don't show your legs any more, you cover them up more. In the 70s and 80s less was considered more when it came to clothes but now that has changed. It has gone out of fashion," she added.
But a spokesman for the health ministry put the cover up down to cancer concerns.
"Whereas people once thought nothing of exposing their flesh to the sun for many hours, people are generally a lot more sensible nowadays.
"This is certainly the case as regards women who are very conscious of the risks of exposure to bright sunshine."