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! 

Nakation Chronicles V: SXM, Spain and La Jenny, France (2007)

Chapter Five or our Nakation Chronicles; yet another attempt to convince my followers that wearing a swimsuit on vacation really isn’t necessary, let alone pleasing!

2007 represented our third of five annual visits to St. Maarten, and perhaps our best-ever day on neighboring Tintamarre. Then later that year, with one daughter away at college, family vacation “lite” where we rented a private villa (instant naturist resort!) near Malaga before a few days in Barcelona and the last family trip to La Jenny. (We’ve been back several times since, but sans children.) During our stay, we met a freelance photographer who was eager to experiment with recently acquired equipment, so we got a nice photo-shoot out of the deal.

It’s still quite stirring to revisit the pics from Club Orient, wondering what Orient Beach might look like by the time it’s rebuilt. Friends tell us that’s still at least two years out.

In the meantime, one more shout out for nakations, and the people who love them. (Check out the bottom of the page for my previous installments of the Nakation Chronicles.)

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

Nakation Chronicles IV: Living Waters, St. Martin, Cap d’Agde, Ile du Levant, and France

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.

 

 

 

 

Naked Time is Here!

Having just finished an enormous project that has largely consumed the last two years of my life, I am happy to report that the Meandering Naturist is at it again! This time writing from the terrace of our sweet little apartment at Valalta Naturist resort near Rovinj, Croatia.

As far as naturist travel is concerned, it’s been a very good year for us, including our first visit to Paya Bay in Honduras, (Pictured above.) several naturist stops on the eastern coast of Australia, (some of which I have yet to blog about) and a few other diversions along the way that have afforded us a few precious moments of one-on-one time with the sun. We will spend most of this summer in Europe, where I still have a couple work projects to finish up, but there will also be some time to revisit a couple of our favorite naturist destinations, while discovering a few more – namely, those on the Canary Islands.

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The walking path on Ile du Levant

This is our second visit to Valalta, noting that there have been vast improvements to the place since our last stay in 2007. (We have made it to Koversada several times since then – literally across the way, by which I mean, across the fjord!) We’ll squeeze in a reconnaissance trip to a famous naturist beach on the island of Rab during our time here, before heading back through Italy for a brief stay at Le Betulle, one of the few naturist resorts in that sun baked country. We also look forward to returning to Ile du Levant for a few days – an annual pilgrimage of sorts while getting some work done in France.

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Walking near Es Trenc, Mallorca

But once I log off for the summer, we’ll head for the islands of Spain. First, back to see our friends Grant and Jordi at Skinny Dippers Resort on Mallorca, then a scramble through several airports to make our way to the Canary Islands, or more specifically, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria. This is all new territory for us. A bloggers dream, methinks!

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The new bar at Valalta

I think that all adds up to about six weeks of livin’ with nothin’ but the radio on, interspersed with pretty intense work projects along the way. But I am optimistic that this will afford me some serious blogging time as well. In fact, I’m a mere 30,000 clicks away from a half-million hits on my blog since I first got started back in 2013. Don’t know that there’s anything like a Tony or an Academy Award for that, but I do love to write, and it’s especially pleasing to hear now and again that my naked meanderings have helped even one more person figure out this naturist thing. To that end, I will always be indebted to a guy named Don from a “Compuserve Board” (Remember those?) who first pointed me to a place called La Jenny during my desperate search for a place to take my family on nakation.

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The “swimming pool” at Charco del Palo

And for that matter, I just reconnected with a guy named Chris who responded to a message board inquiry years ago to tell me about nudity at Therme Erding near Munich. We were there just yesterday, as that has since become a ritual every time we come to Europe.

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A promo photo from Gran Natura Hotel

So there it is. On one hand, the internet makes it increasingly tricky to out yourself as related to one’s naturist proclivities. But on the other hand, this little corner of the internet has served me well in finding those who care deeply about preserving and promoting naturist values, while at the same time – I hope – demystifying the whole thing to the curious and eager to be clothes free.

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Naturist bliss at Paya Bay, Honduras

Given the time I don’t have to spend putting on and taking off clothes in the coming weeks, I’m hoping I can use that time to catch up on a few more blog posts, and maybe even touch off another debate or discussion that typically always leads to the same conclusion: “You have one set of body parts or the other. So what’s the big deal?”

We’ll keep you posted on that. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery

Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-digital Age

I’ve taken on the project of organizing my photo library – a huge undertaking in the digital age. In doing so, I thought it would be fun to chronicle our nakation adventures since we got serious about naturist travel back in the late 1990s.

This is the first installment, mainly digitized prints from our first outings to the southwest of France. Back in the day when you had to send your film off to a processor advertising in a naturist magazine so you wouldn’t raise the dander of a Walmart employee. Even though we became active naturists around 1989, we have very few photos from those early, early days.

Check out the ongoing “100 Naked Places” project

Naked Places in France

Naked Places elsewhere in Europe – Under Construction

Naked Places in North America

Naked Places in the Caribbean, Central, and South America – Under Construction

Naked Places in Asia, Africa, and Australia

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ASK NATURIST DAN!