The giant marble statue was first erected in 1956 high atop the Greco-Roman Sun Fountain in Nice's grand Place Massena in the city center. The Apollo statue has been controversial almost from the start, and it is returning only after a protracted political debate.
A debate last week between the mayor and some opponents of the Apollo statue over what the Nicois call its generous "attributs" was by turns "hilarious" and "electrically charged," French newspaper Nice-Matin reported.
A member of the local Green Party said she remembered groups of students coming to see the statue and laughing themselves sick over Apollo's "zizie."
But wait: Aren't Americans the ones who are supposedly puritanical and the French known for their lack of inhibition and matter-of-fact attitudes about sex?
"Very true, I know," Emmanuelle Gantie, a spokeswoman for Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi, told AOL News today. "I find it very funny myself. But this statue has a million stories. Back when it first went up, there were some older ladies living nearby who actually complained his attributes were too small."
OK, that sounds more like the French. But back in 1979, fans of Apollo were overruled by a local Catholic women's group, the League of Feminine Virtue, which lobbied successfully for the statue's removal. One reason given was that too many local troublemakers had taken to vandalizing the statue's genitalia with paint.
"There were some other issues as well," said Gantie, perhaps trying to preserve France's libertine reputation. "The fountain foundation was weakening, and the statue was getting too heavy for it."
Apollo was sent in shame to an entryway at the football stadium north of the city, where few saw it. The fountain was left literally a shadow of itself, with just five smaller bronze statues that had been dwarfed by Apollo.
In the early 1990s, what was left of the fountain started leaking. It was dismantled and replaced with a small grass mound and several dismal-looking palm trees.
But there was still "one large missing member," as the Best of Nice Blog put it. Several years more of only-in-France political haggling ensued, ending in last week's triumphant announcement that Apollo will return to the scene of his former glory on June 21.
"We're hoping for the best," Gantie said.