If you happen to be an alien life-form looking for a great place to vacation, you’re going to have to cross Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France off of your list, because it has an active ban on extraterrestrials.
The ban has been in place for 62 years now, and the current mayor, Claude Avril, refuses to overturn it, despite admitting that it's little more than a publicity stunt.
"I’m not going to touch the ban. It spices things up a bit. It creates a harmless kind of buzz, and no one is getting tricked," Avril told Anne Domece at France Bleu.
Given the fact that there has never been a confirmed report of aliens anywhere in the Universe - a NASA engineer has debunked pretty much every UFO sighting on the internet so far - where did this strange law come from?
Well, back in 1954, the mayor at the time, Lucien Jeune, put the ban in place after an unnamed man in northern France reported that he saw two figures, who appeared to be deep sea divers, emerge from a cigar-shaped UFO.
This sighting reportedly caused Jeune to enforce a new law, stating: "Any aircraft, known as flying saucer or flying cigar, which should land on the territory of the community will be immediately held in custody."
Here’s a picture of the decree:
Châteauneuf-du-Pape decree from 1954 banning UFOs pic.twitter.com/Ju0daRCtZM— Colm McGlinchey (@ColmMcGlinchey) October 27, 2016
According to Elie Jeune, the former mayor’s son, the ban was an ingenious way to draw attention to the town, because at the time, alien sightings were becoming fairly common.
Just few years earlier, the famous Roswell Incident - where a US military balloon crashed into Roswell, New Mexico - had prompted a whole series of alien conspiracies.
"At that time, people were talking a lot about extraterrestrials and the unknown, it was in fashion, and there were loads of stories circulating," Jeune told France Bleu. "[The mayor] wanted to make a bit of an advertisement for Châteauneuf. It was an excellent publicity stunt... and free."
Châteauneuf-du-Pape isn’t the only place that has weird laws about unscientific conspiracy theories - Skamania County in Washington state has a ban on hunting Bigfoot, the mythical creature that was first 'spotted' in Alberta, Canada back in 1811.
That sentence might sound harsh, given that Bigfoot isn't even real, but it's actually been toned down from the original law that could punish Bigfoot hunters with a US$10,000 fine, and up to five years in prison.
And here’s a bonus fact: the county next to Skamania, Whatcom County, has a Bigfoot sanctuary called the Sasquatch Protection and Refuge Area, which covers roughly 1 million acres to protect the creature... despite no verified evidence that it actually exists.
While the alien ban is just a bit of fun, the Bigfoot hunting ban is actually really important - was put in place to protect hikers and Bigfoot enthusiasts alike from gun-toting hunters who could mistake a person for the famed woodland ape, shoot at it, then use Bigfoot as an excuse for their negligence.
So no, you can't murder your arch-enemy in the woods and blame it on Bigfoot. Just take them to the Zone of Death in Idaho instead if you want to get away with murder.