Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019

After an absence of five years, we finally made it back to La Jenny this summer, the place I’ve often cited as the best naturist place in the world. [See previous post here] As it goes with the best of anything, such classifications are highly subjective, and even in this case, we’ve wavered a good bit on that assessment over the years, depending on the weather during our most recent visit. A rainy week at La Jenny doth not a fabulous nakation make.

You can read the long version of our naturist saga here, which highlights our first visit to La Jenny in 1997 as a pivotal event in our naked lives. That first time, we only stayed for four nights, but we were immediately smitten with the place, and with the concept of French family naturism in general. (Check out this recent post by Nick and Lins about family naturism in France. Compelling, at least!) We returned for two weeks in 1999 with our pre-adolescent kids, at which point it became a perennial project to figure out how we could manage the airline tickets for a family of five to get back for subsequent nakations. By this time, we had tried several naturist places in America with our children in tow, but they were quickly moving into the “This is really awkward and dumb” state of mind about going on vacation with parents, let alone taking your clothes off. La Jenny was an immediate game changer, and our summers there still live among our most cherished family memories – nudity notwithstanding.

We would return to La Jenny at least a dozen times over the ensuing years, sometimes with kids, then as they were out on their own, sometimes as a couple. In 2014, we even “coerced” some of our naturist friends from home to join us a weeklong visit, but alas, it was one of those iffy weather weeks which left the lasting impression, “This place would be perfect if the sun shone a bit more.” After that, summers got busy with other things to do and  places to be, and La Jenny fell off our travel itinerary… until this year.

La Jenny, 1999

Though our adult children don’t really consider themselves naturists, they don’t bat an eye at getting naked for a family vacation, especially if it turns out to be an all-inclusive sort of deal where they get room, board, and a free plane ticket. Two of the three took the bait this summer, so we found ourselves – naked – on the porch of our chalet near the La Jenny golf course, playing Uno into the wee hours of the morning again. It felt reminiscent to be back in this charming naturist village, sitting near the pool, watching an entirely new generation of naturist families, providing evidence – in the flesh – that family naturism is a booming business in France. 

As a blogger and avid advocate of family naturism, it has occurred to me on many occasion that our naturist travelogue probably seems someplace between irrelevant and unreachable to many a would-be American naturist. I suspect that many feel just like we did back in 1997, saddled with three small children and barely enough money to buy shoes and lunch makings for the coming school week. “Nakation in France? Never gonna happen.” [There’s a whole separate story that goes here about my friend David who taught me how to earn airline miles with a credit card, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.] And I also remember the “Ah-Ha” moment when we realized that a short week in a Disney park carries roughly the same price tag as three weeks in Europe, if we could figure out how to get everybody from this continent to that one. 

La Jenny, 2003

But as I read so many blog posts, tweets, and reddit musings from frustrated husbands and fathers who simply can’t find a way to sell naturism to their spouses and families, I can’t help but think, “That’s because you simply can’t find a place in close proximity to where you live to replicate the everyday normal naturist experience in France… or Croatia…or Spain.” Family naturism will never feel normal when you’re in an environment where it simply isn’t… NORMAL!” Where the people you see at the pool and the beach and at the restaurant that evening are the same people you would encounter at Disneyland, or Six Flags, or even at the local grocery store or restaurant. 

La Jenny, 2005

I’ve ranted a good bit in these pages over the years about the “nudist colony” feel of naturist places in the US. Indeed, there are a few places in North America that have broken that boundary, but making a quick weekend jaunt to Toronto or Palm Springs may even be more cost prohibitive than going to Europe. And then there are the family naturism casualties in the US, like Caliente in Florida, which finally gave up on their business plan for family naturism when they realized that catering to those seeking a sexual adventure became a necessity for keeping the cash flow in the positive. Or Desert Sun (formerly Desert Shadows) in Palm Springs, which first opened as a family naturist destination, where many units sold under the banner of “my grandkids can come visit me here,” only later to have children banned from the premises altogether as the potential of aiding and abetting a child predator outweighed the prospects of attracting clients who would pay for a family nakation. We Americans like to think we’re really progressive, but when it comes to intergenerational nudity, we simply can’t seem to figure it out.

La Jenny, 2007

Like Nick and Lins say in their piece, the French have totally figured out the formula for making family nakation acceptable, even to those who would rather vacation with their clothes on. (Imagine that! Telling your friends you went with your family on naked vacation without worrying about getting reported to Child Protective Services!?) France has also learned to embrace mainstream and social media in a way that doesn’t just sexualize or poke fun at social nudity, but portrays it as a viable recreational option for everyday people who simply want to de-stress, snooze by the pool, and walk on the beach, then come home without tan lines. 

La Jenny 2013

So now it’s 2019. As I rode my bike (naked) down to the village for croissants and a baguette from the market (also naked), before spending the rest of the day (naked) with my wife, friends, and adult children, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic about that first visit to naturist France some 20+ years ago. I remember thinking, as we were in our thirties back then, “Why did it take us so long to discover this magical place? And how will I ever go on another vacation, anyplace, where clothing is required by the pool or on the beach? Why is that even a thing?”

So I guess that’s the point. Despite the best efforts of the most ardent proponents of social nudity in the US of A, it seems unlikely we’ll ever catch up with our European friends when it comes to creating a place where family naturism not only seems normal, but is in demand! Are there safe places to get naked with your family in the United States to enjoy social nudity with your family? A few, scattered across the country. Do any of them measure up, even to the mid grade places in France? Well… not from what we’ve seen, and we’ve been looking for a long time.

So if you’ve made it this far in these wandering musings from a meandering naturist, and you’re still living in the confines of naked and alone at home, I simply encourage you to find a cheap plane ticket, do a bit of careful research, then go get naked in France. It doesn’t have to be La Jenny; there are over 300 options in France alone. But if you get it right, you might end up wrecked… and naked… for life! 

11 thoughts on “Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019

  1. Fellow travelers :) says:

    Hi Dan

    We love La Jenny !

    Think it’s a combination of the LOCATION, (in a forest & next to the sea), the FACILITIES available, (shops, restaurants etc), the SCALE (not too many people & spread out), the friendly PEOPLE we meet at the social events, and last but not least, the VIBE, (happy, acceptance & respect for others).

    It’s possible, in fact easy, to stay there full time and never want to leave the whole vacation. Some people live there all year round.

    Next year we plan to stay for 6 weeks.

    Keep on blogging 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Nudie News
  3. Barry K says:

    Next year will be the fourth year in a row we’ve gone to Montalivet. It is easily my favorite place to be. We’ve taken our son the first three years, starting at age 5, but next year will just be my wife and I.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We visited Montalivet for the FIRST time this summer as we had friends who have been going there since he was a boy. Also an amazing place, though with a completely different vibe. I don’t know that we’re likely to switch over, but the place accomplishes very much the same thing. A great cross section of humans having a relaxing time on vacation where nudity is just not a thing. Since they have some many options for camping and such, seems that would be a particularly (economically) good option for young families. Way cheaper than most vacation destinations in the US. 🙂

      Like

  4. Dan, I so share your flummoxed bemusement about social and familial nakedness in North America. It’s such a varied experience here.

    I wonder if it isn’t in part the fact that Cap D’Agde is by far the exception, in contrast to the number of places like La Jenny where whole families will play Uno together late into the evening, then retire with the satisfaction of having had a good day together, and never having suffered the expectation of dressing, even to go to the bakery. I have the sense that, in France and Germany, even though going naked everywhere might not be “the norm”, it wouldn’t shake up the whole neighborhood if I had to run out to the car to get something I had left there, and didn’t bother to put on a pair of shorts.

    In the “progressive USA,” however: it’s not just a matter of never appearing naked on my front porch. I spent four days naked at a naturist enclave and thought that it seemed pretty outrageous that anyone anywhere would ever be expected to dress, when it was unseasonably warm; naked was normal, nothing to bat one’s eyelashes at. Yesterday, by contrast, I was at a “local” (a three hour drive one way is still “local” in Colorado) naturist “club”, where everyone was sequestered around the pool: and something about it seemed, well, “strange”.

    Maybe it was just that the first place had more space, and the amount of space for going about wearing nothing just made the experience more leisurely, and therefor the more unremarkable. At the second place, I heard much more conversation about how terrible it was that “getting nude” wasn’t more accepted by more Americans; and after a while, I wanted to roll my eyes: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.” I don’t know.

    Anyway, thanks for your ongoing efforts on behalf of all of us to present clothes-free living as the unremarkable, family oriented way of life that it really is.

    Allen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flummoxed indeed! in fact, isn’t that the primary discussion topic at American nudist places and on the corresponding message boards? “Wow… we’re so misunderstood and marginalized. While in the meantime, our French friends are shopping for milk and bread in the nude. Go figure!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s