The decision is bound to cause shock-waves, and may damage already-fragile bilateral relations between Avignon and its twin city of Colchester in Essex. "Any ban on socks really is below the belt," complained Councillor Ron Cockatrice of Colchester Borough Council. "The wearing of socks with sandals has been an intrinsic part of our culture since Roman times," he continued, citing recent evidence from Yorkshire in support of his claim. "This ban is transparently anti-British."
However, civic officials from Avignon were unmoved. "If someone wears socks, you must ask, what are they trying to hide?" retorted the Mayor, M. Printemps. "Corns? Bunions? Ingrowing toenails?"
The issue was brought to a head by an incident last year, in which a visitor on a twinning exchange ventured into the piscine with a case of athlete's foot, an act alleged to have resulted in four citizens of Avignon having to apply anti-fungal cream for anything up to a week.
The row does not seem likely to subside any time soon. The council in Avignon is currently debating a proposal to modify the city's motto to reflect its dual identity as both one-time seat of the papacy and present-day upholder of podiatric purity. If it succeeds, the arms of Avignon may soon bear the legend: "Habet Quinque Digitos et Bene Pendentes" - which means, roughly translated, "By Their Feet Ye Shall Know Them."
What they will make of that in Essex remains to be seen.