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Nude Protest On French Riviera After Beach Closes For Saudi Royal Visit

27/07/2015 11:49 BST | Updated 27/07/2015 11:59 BST

Nude swimmers joined demonstrators on the French Riviera on Monday to protest against a public beach being closed to locals during a visit by a billionaire Saudi Royal.

Authorities sealed off Mirandole beach in Vallauris on Saturday to prevent protesters from occupying it as King Salman and his 1,000-strong entourage arrived for a three-week vacation.

Some 100,000 people have signed a petition against the closure and the King's plans to build a staircase and wooden walkways from his holiday home down to the beach in Vallauris.

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Police patrol the waters near the holiday home of Saudi King Salman who is holidaying in the French Riviera for three-weeks

The online petition insists the beach should be "available for the benefit of all".

It reads: "This beach, like any other public maritime domain, should be available for everyone, including residents, tourists, French people and foreigners.

"We recall that this natural zone, like all maritime public estates, is an intrinsic public property that should be available for the benefit of all, residents, tourists, French, foreigners or people passing through.

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Saudi King Salman meeting with French President Francois Hollande in May this year

"We ask the state to guarantee the fundamental principle of the equality of all citizens before the law."

The petition, started by, Jean-Noel Falcou, calls for France's government to "recognise the unanimous wave of indignation" and to reverse their decision.

The MailOnline quotes Mr Falcou as saying: "We cannot accept that there is one law for the rich and powerful and one law for everyone else."

The mayor of Vallauris has also written to President Francois Hollande in protest at unauthorised work carried out at the property, namely a cement platform created on the beach so a lift could be constructed, the BBC reported.

The broadcaster quoted Michelle Salucki as saying: "We understand the security reasons and the nation's greater interest. But nobody can exonerate himself from the laws of the land."

The king's inner circle will reportedly be staying at his villa - between Antibes and Marseille - while about 700 others will stay at hotels in Cannes.

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Workers construct the temporary lift at the beach ahead of the king's visit

The Mail named the the king's villa as the Chateau de l'Horizon, a £5million-plus mansion it said was previously used by Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Marilyn Monroe.

Police have reportedly prevented demonstrators from getting near the property and have said anyone causing a disturbance would be arrested.

But while locals are not happy about one of their swimming spots being temporarily privatised, local businesses are expecting a windfall.

Michel Chevillon, president of an association of Cannes' hotel managers, was quoted by the BBC as saying the visit was "clearly good news" for hotels and the local economy.

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King Salman's visit to the French Riviera

He said: "These are people with great purchasing power," he said.

Earlier officials said the beach, near Juan-les-Pins, would be closed for security reasons.

Last week regional security chief Francois-Xavier Lauch justified the closure saying: "We do the same kind of thing for all heads of state."

This week he added: "This closure is consistent with what would happen with a visit by any head of state, whether it was President Francois Hollande or Barack Obama."

Mr Lauch said that boats would also be banned from plying the Mediterranean near the mansion, which has belonged to the Saudi royal family for decades but hasn't recently been visited by the king himself.

Mr Lauch said the restrictions only apply for a visit by the king, not other members of the royal family.

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Previously stretches of coastline on the Riviera have been closed for visits by former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Lauch said the beach was 'only ten meters long' and was usually only visited by a handful of people each day.

Earlier angry beachgoers won a temporary halt to unauthorised work ahead of the royal visit, notably a cement slab on the sand for an elevator allowing direct beach access from the mansion.

However, Mr Lauch said limited work including blocking an entrance to the beach via a tunnel, will only be approved "if it can be dismantled".