Welcome to Wandering Wednesdays, where we provide brief reviews of naturist places – outside of North America – we have visited, simply to offer our admittedly subjective thoughts about what we experienced there. With over 150 pins on our naturist travel map, we have a lot of reviews to catch up on. Once posted here, I’ll move them over to the “Places” index under the main menu of our blog.
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CHM Montalivet Camping Naturiste – near Bordeaux, France
There are four, large family naturist resorts on the Cote d’Argent of France west of Bordeaux, Centro Helio Marine Montalivet being the most famous of the lot. Founded in the 1950s – CHM Monta as they call it – was to meet the rising demand amongst Europeans for family naturism. At that time, naturist places on the Mediterranean were having some difficulty with those seeking sexual adventure instead of holistic family-oriented social nudity. The former situation eventually evolved into the bizarre naked place we know today as Cap d’Adge. (SEE: Why A Newbie Naturist Should NOT Visit Cap d’Adge) CHM Monta, on the other hand, is the family naturist’s dream, with everything you could want for in a summer family vacation, ranging from a stunning pool complex, to an expansive beach, to loads of activities and even an open air cinema. Since we usually stay down to coast a ways at one of the other resorts, we have only been to CHM Monta for a day visit to see friends. As there are options for camping and accommodations at every price point, the crowd at CHM Monta is predictably mixed – more so than anyplace else we’ve visited, world wide. You’ll find families who have been coming here for the last seventy years, 20-somethings hanging out by the beach bar with live music, and oh so many families of every age, buzzing around the place on bicycles in and around the village with restaurants, stores, a Laundromat (Ironic, I know) – everything you could wish for, with no reason to ever get dressed. We think this flavor of French naturism is truly as good as it gets.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? If you were really tenacious, you could actually get to CHM Monta on public transportation through a series of trains and busses connecting from Bordeaux and the numerous small towns scattered down the coast, though it will likely take you two or three hours as compared to just over an hour’s drive from the Bordeaux Merignac airport. We typically rent a car, though once there, we rent bikes to get around the resort for shopping, trips to the beach, and such. In the case of CHM Monta, the village of Montalivet has grown up around the resort, so you can easily make your way into town (with clothes on) on foot or by bike if you want to broaden your dining and shopping options. That makes this to most accessible of the four resorts on the Atlantic coast.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? Simply amazing! As we have always been strong advocates for family naturism, we believe these resorts in southwest France set the industry standard far and above anyplace we’ve been elsewhere. (SEE: Reflections of a Naturist Life) Not only do families with children feel welcome here, but there are literally hundreds of them, with robust day programs that keep the kids busy for most of the day. In case you think that sounds chaotic, keep in mind that the place is huge with plenty of room for people to find their own, personal quiet spot if that’s what you’re seeking, except perhaps at the pool, which is always bustling with family fun and games. The best analogy I can think of is what you might expect as a sprawling Disney resort, with a similar family vibe around the pool, except at CHM Monta, most families come back year after year, so it’s like a huge reunion every summer. This is family naturism at its best.
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? Love tent or (small) RV camping? Hundreds of spots. Want to rent a small park model for a reasonable price? You’ll find rows upon rows of them. Some like the older cabins in the original sector of CHM Monta. We think those are the best option, but are limited by comparison so you’d need to book early. Compared to La Jenny, our regular naturist destination, there are many more options to fit one’s varied budget requirements at CHM Monta, which in turn, draws a more diverse crowd with more twenty-somethings who are happy to tent camp. If you’ve only experienced naturism in America, you simply can’t imagine the expanse of the place, but if you get on their website, you get the idea.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? CHM Montalivet and the neighboring resorts on the Cote d’Argent represent absolute Naturist Nirvana to us, barring one factor – THE WEATHER! The weather patterns on the Atlantic coast are the same ones that keep Great Britain chilly much of the year, and the green coast of northern Spain, well… green! It’s not atypical for a weather system to move through in the middle of July dropping two inches of rain in a single afternoon, though as often as not, that storm will break around happy hour time, the temperatures will soar back into the 80s, and suddenly hundreds of people will appear out of nowhere and head for the pool or the beach. Which leads to the second point.
We think this is a particularly beautiful region of France, largely devoid of your typical touristy types who are simply trying to tick sight-seeing items off their bucket list. There are not so many of those bucket list places to be found in the part of Europe unless you are keen on wine-tasting in the Bordeaux region. That said, once we check in and drop our clothes, we never want to leave the resort (unless the weather turns bad), so we’re happy not to have the “gotta see this” distractions pulling at our heartstrings.
And one other amazing feature of this region. During WWII, the Germans built a series of roads hidden in the pine forest just behind the sand dunes that runs for over a hundred miles down the coast. Pragmatically enough, the French have turned this into a series of bike paths, great for exploring other villages for a picnic lunch in the next town. You can’t be naked on the bike paths, but pick just about any beach down the way, park your bike, walk over the dunes, and it’s pretty likely you’ll find other naked people there. God bless the French.
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