SEX ON THE BEACH: Why a Newbie Naturist Should NOT Visit Cap d’Agde!

We’ve been at least a half dozen times over the past twenty years, usually staying for two or three nights en route to another naturist destination. But this time, we were simply making a day visit with a couple friends – one a confirmed naturist, the other, new to the concept, but most certainty social nudity curious.

We did the best we could to prep them for this visit to the Naked City. For our naturist friend, this was something of a pilgrimage, having read so much about the most expansive naturist enclave in the world. And to be sure, depending where you’re looking on the internet, the place sounds like naturist Utopia. 24/7 nudity – in the shops, restaurants, and even in the post office. You can easily think you’ve got a good pulse on the place on the web without bumping into the language about foam parties and libertines (swingers) if you’re simply searching for the ultimate naturist destination.

On previous journeys, my wife and I have typically stayed in the modest Hotel Eve, tucked away at the edge of the village. While we’ve seen a few amorous couples there over the years, they have typically remained just within the lines of acceptable public display of affection. We understand “amorous”, and like to think we have cultivated a good appreciation for such in our 30+ years of marriage, but we have never chosen to imbibe in the libertine scene, nor are we likely to put our own affections on public display. 

Admittedly, my wife and I hold differing perspectives on the sexual pulse of Cap d’Agde as you pass a club with pole dancers on the way to the grocery store, or a woman walking by in a negligée that simply exaggerates the body parts that a bikini typically covers up, while keeping her partner close by on a studded collar and leash. “There’s some wild and crazy going on in our midst,” we say. I have always thought it to be a bizarre study in humanity. While she has never felt like we’ve put ourselves in a particularly threatening situation, my wife finds the whole environment someplace between disquieting at least, and disturbing at most. 

Until this time…

I had given a brief history of Cap d’Agde – the great naked city of France – to our friends in the car on our way down the autoroute from Provence, including the details of the original charter that still permeates the regulations to be acknowledged at the entrance today, banning overt sexuality and a wide array of other inappropriate behaviors. Some online reviews even tell stories of being denied admission at the gate due to the lack of an affiliation with a legitimate naturist organization.

In the meantime, I’ve kept up on my reading about the place over the years: the opening of a new “genuine naturist hotel” that hosts getting to know you parties on the terrace (along with alluring photos); the arson reports related to the total destruction of the most prominent swingers’ club (and the subsequent rebuilding) a few years back; and the varied reports of just what happens on the beach, especially around the time the sun begins to set. We certainly had an awareness of all that from our previous visits, but we simply weren’t prepared for what awaited us on this visit.

Once parked with clothing safely secured in the car, we made our way into the heart of the town where we consumed copious amounts of vin rosé beneath the relieving protection of misters that ameliorated the blistering heat during this prolonged heat wave in the South of France. We each ventured down to the beach now and again – the familial section of the beach near all the restaurants and shops – noting an occasional couple riding the waves locked in a suspiciously euphoric embrace. It was the typical intergenerational mixture of young families to senior citizens, with a near 100% compliance with the total nudity regulations. This was the Cap d’Adge we had experienced in the past.

Having made 8:00 pm dinner reservations, the defining moment arrived when we decided to take a stroll down the naturist beach as the sun was beginning to set. I suppose timing is everything on occasions like this, but we were hardly a few meters beyond the first beach bar when we came upon women on their knees pleasing their partners, then circles of spectators watching various displays of human sexuality – and as often as not, a circle of men, gazing on the event, pleasuring themselves in a participatory sort of way.

I should reiterate at this point that we (and thankfully, our friends who were with us) are of the live and let live variety of human. “Do what you want as long as it’s not invasive or hurtful to the other people around you.” But I have to say, this was a country mile beyond the world of bizarre. For me, it was something akin to a visit to the city zoo. “Ah, do you think we’ll see the monkey lick the other monkey’s butt today? And why doesn’t that bear ever come out of his cave!” What it wasn’t, however, (at least for me) was the least bit erotic. And my wife was (quite appropriately) offended by a woman who was simply gyrating in the sand to the pleasure of a circle of dozens of lonely-looking men. Naturist values be damned – this was in no way what we’ve come to associate with the pervasive values of social nudity in France!

It’s impossible to know the psychology at play amidst the people “playing” on the beach that day. Were they liberated? Desperate? Or just out having a good time with strangers and friends? Is that appreciably different than some of the groping and such that goes on at a New York City night club any night of the week? 

Regardless of intent, what Cap d’Agde is not is the naturist Utopia the forefathers set out to create, if simply imagined through the eyes of a person who travels half way across the world to visit this iconic naked city. Even given our recurring experiences with the place, our wandering trek through the sexcapades, as perceived along side our young naturist friends, was simply over the edge! What if an eager husband has been working for years to convince his partner that naturism is a holistic movement intended to embrace body acceptance in a non-threatening environment? It’s difficult to imagine that if Cap d’Adge were the first stop on a journey of naturist exploration that the reluctant partner would ever go near another “naturist place” EVER – again!

I suppose this is really a microcosm representing the confusion in the general public’s perception of social nudity to begin with. We keep trying to convince people that it’s not just one giant orgy in the making, except… when it is! And in this case, the naturist charter that supposedly governs the place has been completely undermined by the actual law of the land. While Cap d’Agde is advertised as the great naked city, it is actually the primary destination for, well… MANY giant orgies, which in turn generates copious amounts of revenue through tourist taxes from the tens of thousands who go there each year to experience exactly that.  I might add that this is not an effort to condemn such activities, nor do I have a desire to pass judgment on people who enjoy such an environment, but if one is trying to make a case for non-sexual social nudity, Cap d’Agde is not going to do much to help your case.

I’ve tried to imagine the dinner conversation for the young families who stay there for weeks at a time each summer. “Mommy, why were those men all standing in a circle around that woman this afternoon?” Perhaps that simply becomes a teachable moment over macaroni and cheese, but such a conversation would require a level of tolerance that most Americans could never imagine. Be that as it may, but just a word to the wise…

If you are curious about social nudity and you’re eager to find out what it’s all about, there are about three-hundred naturist centers in France alone. Cap d’Agde may not be the entry point you were hoping for.  

Photos were found on a Google images search. If you find one that belongs to you, we will be most willing to remove should you ask.

Nakation Chronicles IV: Living Waters, St. Martin, Cap d’Agde, Ile du Levant, and La Jenny (2006)

Installment number four of our Nakation Chronicles, which marked our second visit to Club Orient in SXM, our only visit to Living Waters Spa, a couple nights at Cap d’Agde – France’s famous Naked City, several nights at Heliotel (which remains one of our favorite naturist spots on the planet), and a return the the expansive naturist resort La Jenny in southwest France.

In the grand scheme of things, this was the year our oldest daughter graduated from high school, which resulted in a bit more freedom to start exploring the world – naked. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll see we have a proclivity toward family naturist destinations, even when traveling as a couple. While Cap d’Agde may be the most famous naked city in the world, and you will find families there, we have found it anything but what one might call a wholesome family environment. We are live and let live people, but if living naked, we’d rather live someplace else.

A bit sad we haven’t made it back to Living Waters Spa, mostly because it’s a bit remote in a small desert town beyond Palm Springs. Of course, at this writing, Club Orient lies in ruins following hurricane Irma. Heliotel and La Jenny remain a part of our naturist travel go-to places.

As with previous posts, I hope our blog will inspire a few more people to realize that naturism is way more normal than most people would imagine. The only way to find out for yourself is to drop your clothes and give it a try!

Make sure you check out the previous Nakation Chronicles installments:

Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-Digital Age

Nakation Chronicles II: France and Corsica

Nakation Chronicles III: St. Martin, Croatia, Corsica and France

Meandering Naked in 2017

 

 

Nakation for Dummies

So I have made repeated mention in recent posts of my daughter and 20-something friends – mutual friends, I might add – who have become increasingly naturist-curious; a true bonanza for a long time naturist blogger who throws a small party every time he gets a new follower on his blog. This, in an age where nudism is frequently dismissed by Millennials as something my slightly deranged, post-modern hippie parents threaten to tell us about…

“Anyway, your father and I just booked on a nudist cruise to Aruba.”

“NOOOO!!!!! MOM, don’t tell me THAT stuff! Just STOP”

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Day-dreaming in Croatia

It’s strange to me, really. I was a late bloomer, who wasn’t even old enough to bloom during the Summer of Love. By the time I came of age, we were in the Reagan era, California was cracking down on nude beaches, free love was under fire from the emerging religious right, and the AIDS crisis was just about to erupt on the horizon. But the bizarre part of it all to me is the dichotomy of the strange relationship 20-somethings have with immodesty. I know quite a lot of people in this age bracket, most of whom are not especially religious, don’t think twice about a one-night stand (Do we still call this casual sex?), are as likely as not to make out with a new acquaintance at a party, frequently wear seductive clothing in casual settings, but would never consider going to a nude beach or resort. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, says this humble blogger, is that we’ve made the whole thing seem damn weird and unmanageable! Try visiting a nudist resort in the United States and it costs a fortune (Like $50 for a day visit), and only that after you submit a full FBI check to prove you’re not a sex offender or puritanical ax murderer! Go to the wrong place in Europe, and you inadvertently end up at a naked geriatric center pondering your mortality in disbelief that skin could possibly have that kind of elasticity. Turn the other direction in France, and you might find yourself in Cap d’Agde, the most infamous of naked places in the world, where your inhibitions and misconceptions about naturism will turn into a nightmarish collage of men in studded collars and lesbian sex on the beach. (I know, Cap d’Agde fans – the place can be great for naturism, but send an unsuspecting newbie there? Yikes!)

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Family nakation at La Jenny

And thus, a few thoughts for the newbie naturist who finds the idea of no tan lines and swimming without wet nylon a least at bit alluring.

  • Leave the country! Assuming you’re reading this in the US of A, (or even in Great Britain,) you need to go someplace where people aren’t freaked out by nudity. The family naturist resorts on the southwest coast of France (La Jenny, Montalivet) are by far the most normal in terms of demographics, but they are difficult to get to, and the weather can be iffy. Croatia would be a good alternative, but the time and place means everything. If you go before school holidays, you’re back to the geriatric thing. Do your research before you go.
  • Go to a spa in Germany or Holland. Check out the website for information about FKK or Texteil Frei days, which for many of them is everyday. Elysium near Rotterdam or Therme Erding near Munich are particularly impressive, and draw huge numbers of young couples and singles who don’t consider themselves nudists, but don’t think twice about getting naked with others. It just feels normal.

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The view over Origan naturist camping in France

  • Search the blogosphere for things written by naturists. A lot of it is rubbish, and you’ll know right away this is not going to be helpful. But now and again, you’ll find a blogger who gets it, knows where to go, and when to go there. Send them a message and see if they answer. I’ve found many of our favorite places that way, on the basis of personal recommendations, greatly reducing the chances that you’ll waste your time and money, while irreversibly damaging your psyche!
  • Read Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews before you go – not just a few, but drill down. Many people adore Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, as it’s one of the only substantial and recognized nude beaches in the entire country, but if you read enough reviews, you’ll also learn about some of the oddities of the place as well. In fact, American nude beaches have big issues with gawkers, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to get your girlfriend to say, “Never again.”

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Therme Erding near Munich

  • Decide if you’re an “all in” or “ease in” person. “All in” means you’ll be more comfortable if everyone around you is naked, and you just need to follow suit. “Ease in” means you’re seeking a mixed crowd where nudity is permitted by not required, but also means you put it out there while others around you may not. You can usually figure that out from the aforementioned trip review sites, but it’s an important distinction.
  • Go high-end, or go low-end, but beware of the middle. Though a bit counter-intuitive, you either want to stay at a nice naturist hotel like Vritomartis in Greece or Heliotel in France, or find a place with lots of tent camping –  not miles of trailer camping – but tent camping. Why? The places in the middle tend to attract the folks who parked their travel trailer on a plot in 1967 and haven’t budged since. Lovely people, they may be, but if you’re looking for a youthful vibe, seek out the tent campers. Check out Camp Full Monte in Montenegro, or Belezy in France. Valalta in Croatia seems to have struck a nice balance, but not so much before schools let out in early July.

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Naturist camping on Corisca

  • Beware of naturist/nudist message boards if you want to feel normal about the whole thing. Like the blogosphere, there are some very cool people out there who have a lot of helpful information, but receiving a nude pic from a lonely guy in Atlanta is probably not the introduction to social nudity you’re looking for.
  • Seek out resources geared to people in your demographic. Perhaps the best one out there right now is The Young Naturists Association (YNA) run by Felicity and Jordan out of New York. They have done more to promote a positive image for social nudity than anything I’ve seen on the web for quite a long time. I have yet to attend one of their events (I’m told I’m welcome, despite the fact that I’m not quite a young naturist anymore) but from everything I’ve seen, they’ve got it right, including a blog that is thoughtful, intelligent, and informative. My guess is the people they have attracted to the cause have similar traits.

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Naked feeding time in South Africa

Dunno! Perhaps there’s no rocket science to be found in this post, accept to say that a bad first foray into naturism is more often than not the last foray into naturism. We started young – just months after we were married (remember, our kids are in their 20s now!) so we’ve been at this for a while. To a large degree, our naturist travels have defined our relationship; when our naked travels have taken us to places we would never thought to have visited, where we have met people we would have never had reason to talk to.

Start young. Before you have children. Before life bogs you down. Have more questions? Ask Naturist Dan! We naturists love to advocate for our cause.

 

 

 

 

Hard Times at Cap d’Agde

When we tell people we like to go on “nakation in France,” if they know anything about French naturism, the first thing they will ask is whether we go to “that naked city… Cap Dog… or something like that.”

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Hotel Eve

Of course, at this point, they’re probably already confused as to why somebody would want to be naked in France in the first place, and that’s before you try to explain the surreal atmosphere that is – arguably – the international capital of naturism. As many have observed, it’s not a resort, but a city, where neither clothing – nor a good deal of discretion about anything else – is required.

We have been to Cap d’Agde several times since 1997 when we made our first pilgrimage to the high holy place among the naked. At that time, I would say that this naturist utopia had most certainly fallen upon hard times, as many of the apartment buildings had deteriorated into disrepair and neglect, the landscaping consisted largely of grass growing IMG_0157through cracks in the concrete, and there was clearly a sense of growing tension between the naturists and the libertines (aka, the more sexually adventurous, or if you will, the swingers). One of our subsequent visits was shortly after the most famous of sex clubs had been gutted by fire, allegedly at the hand of a naturist who wished to reclaim the city for the “true naturists,” a term that has defied any viable definition since people started taking their clothes off in public about 100 years ago.

This time, we stayed only one night at Hotel Eve, a somewhat modest establishment on the edge of the naked city that seems to be the only hotel in town that caters to people who only wish to change towels on a daily basis. (wink, wink)  But before you pack up the kids and schedule the next family reunion, I should mention the suggestive artwork adorning the hallways, the beautiful art book on the reception counter that thoroughly documents your options for leather and lace, and the general acceptance around the pool with men who have no qualms about displaying their current state of arousal. Hard times indeed!

IMG_0156All that said, it seems that Cap d’Agde is coming to terms with itself as a place where the naked and the scantily clothed actually can coexist without so much angst and allegation of wrong doing. To my naked eye, it seemed that the sex clubs were much more public this time, as opposed to simply donning clever names that served as cues to those in the know. (A personal favorite is Jeux de Mains… “Hand Games”) Somehow, it all seems so much less apologetic than before. Even at the hotel pool there seemed to be little or no concern about the ominous and omnipotent male erection, nor did the appearance of such present itself (during our brief visit) as a prelude to public sexual interludes.

In the meantime, however, the 1970s concrete apartment blocks have been painted, the landscaping has been replanted, and the public pool in the center of the complex that once looked like a dilapidated city plunge has been renovated and re-framed in a most inviting way. Somebody decided to invest some major cash into the infrastructure of this place – and not a minute too soon.

Would I take my young family there now if I had one? Probably not. Though many do, and I suspect they have a lovely vacation in one of the many self-catering apartments on offer. I have tried to imagine how I would explain all the lingerie and leather shops to my adolescent offspring, not to mention the pole dancing club on a main walkway that has no walls, or the constant stream of humans finding total abandon as they literally dance in the streets. (A beautiful transgender person with breasts and a penis had the stamina and determination to dance the entire day away during our stay.)

IMG_0158To reiterate, in case you are just encountering my blog for the first time, among my most pronounced intentions of blogging has been helping people find a place to find great naturist places – or at the very least, make sure they know what they are getting into before they arrive. That said, while my wife and I do not subscribe to libertine ideals, Cap d’Agde does seems to have found a certain maturity under the banner of live and let live.

There is something there for everybody. If you find that offensive, it’s probably best you go someplace else. And to be sure, France provides an unmatched number of possibilities.