The “Right to Bare All”… and other news from Ile du Levant

If you’re a keen advocate for naturism, and you haven’t yet made a visit to Ile du Levant, you need to move that up on your bucket list. It’s one of a handful of places that has self-identified as the birthplace of naturism. (Germany and Croatia contend for this distinction as well!) At the very least, it seems to be something of a naked renaissance town at the moment, but more about that later.

Part of the adventure of coming to the naked island in France is catching the ferry from the port of Le Lavandou. Since the boat makes two stops, one at Levant, and the other at neighboring Port Cros, it’s fun to play the “I wonder who will get off the boat on which island” game. This time, the boat was quite full, and nearly every person on board disembarked at the first stop – Ile du Levant!

Mind you, we had been in transit for nearly twenty-four hours having made our way from Newark Liberty Airport, through Brussels, then on to Marseille. After another two hours in the car, and a 40-minute ferry crossing, I was itching to embrace the late day Provençal sunlight, free from the bondage of North American travel-wear!  Thirty meters up the path from the port, a quick bathroom stop, and voila! Naked!!

A few years ago, we brought long-time friends from California along with us to experience this little naturist mecca first hand. They would not call themselves naturists, but have been willing nakation companions over the years. Our friend Tom was particularly intrigued with the history of the island, the prevailing rules regarding nudity, or more acutely, “Why were there so many people walking around the island fully clothed?” Eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit, not a cloud in the sky, and so many a passers-by wearing jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. What’s up with that?

Fair question, I think, particularly on this landmass isolated from the prudish nay-sayers who might suffer the oppression of unwanted nudity. NOBODY comes to Levant without the expectation of seeing naked people. And it seems even more peculiar to me that someone might come here without the expectation of becoming an enthusiastic clothes-free participant. Tom prodded our innkeeper about the politics of it all, unpacking the complicated history of this naturist hamlet island with nearly a hundred years of controversy in defining how naked is naked. (See: Another Round of Crazy on Ile du Levant)

Now, several years later, we’re back for a weekend of naturist serenity and solitude, and I, for one, plan to get my money’s worth! While anecdotal at best, it seems this is not an uncommon perspective amidst visitors from North America, as evidenced by the only other couple at breakfast who were as naked as we were. Perhaps some people come here simply for the pleasure of lying au naturel on the beach or striving for no tan lines by the pool. Or maybe the French people think nudity to be such a non-issue, with so many places “in the neighborhood” to get naked on the day-to-day, that they lack some of the zeal of the prudish American who has waited all year (or years!) for the privilege to bare all.

We have experienced this again and again during our European travels, going to great lengths to find places where nudity is not only allowed, but required– as is the case on the coastal path just beyond the port of Ile du Levant. (Explicit signage near the port tells you where you can’t be naked, where you can be naked, and where you must be naked!) But on this morning trek, we found the demographics to be about 50-50, some fully nude, some donning beach cover-ups, and others dressed as if prepared to take on the Appalachian Trail in early October. Really!?

There is a sub-plot to all of this, pertaining especially to residential naturist places, which Ile du Levant most certainly is. (We’ve experienced this at La Jenny as well.) With increasing frequency, it seems that families have purchased homes in these naturist communities two or three generations back. The home stays in the family, but the naturism gene didn’t carry forward. 

“Hey! We have this lovely home near a beautiful beach in France!”

“Isn’t that one of those places with loads of naked people?”

“Oh yeah… you’ll encounter some of the crazy nudists, but don’t worry about it! You don’t have to get naked with them!”

As with the evolution of any neighborhood, I suppose such unintended outcomes are inevitable, but if it’s a total naturist experience you’re seeking, there’s a compelling case to be made for camping establishments that cater to young family tent-campers – the most transient of communities where the main attraction is the right to bare all. If you didn’t want to get naked, you simply wouldn’t go there.

Which takes us back all the way to our very first experience with Ile du Levant sometime back around 2006, when we came out on the ferry for a day trip for our first exploration of this historic naturist landmark. My wife and I still reminisce about her reticence to get naked that day, despite the hype about a naturist island and her confirmed affinity for naked travel.

“Are you sure we can be naked here? Why aren’t those people naked? Really, I can be topless in the village?”

We laugh about it now, but for the novice naturist, this can be quite a conundrum! As my friend Tom learned from our innkeeper that day, the modus operandus at most naturist places is simply that… “You have the right to bare all,” but there are few places that even attempt to impose any sort of regulations for mandatory nudity. “As you wish” seems to be the presumptive rule of the land.

So last night we frequented one of our favorite bistros on the island where the wait-staff were attired in their typical apparel; sandals and full-length aprons with ample butt cleavage on full display below the apron tie. While they actually advertise that nudity while dining is permitted, if not actively encouraged, I found myself – again – in the midst of that proverbial third grade dream when you realize that you’re the only one in the room with no pants on. (Except, in this case, for the waiters, of course!) It’s a small island, and by now, we’d seen at least half the people in the restaurant earlier in the day, fully nude by the pool or along the sea. But here at dinner, most everyone was fully adorned, some of the women rather provocatively so in sheer fabric that would never make muster for the church covered-dish dinner or a PTA meeting. As I made my way to the restroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the singular freak-show for the evening, dressed in a button-down shirt, but nothing below. Perhaps I was, but alas, we are here in the land of as you wish, and if anyone batted an eye, they were most discrete about it. 

But it was a beautiful evening, on a naturist island, and I simply couldn’t resist the all too infrequent… right to bare all!

As to the renaissance – it seems there are more 20-30 somethings on the island than we’ve seen in recent years, and at least during the day, more naked people than we’ve encountered on previous visits. They say young naturism is on an upswing in France. Maybe the young naked people we reclaim the naturist vision on this remarkable big rock off the Cote d’Azur!

Oh, the places we’ve been… NAKED!

Back in 2014, shortly after I started this blog, I began a series of posts called “One-Hundred Naked Places.” The idea was to document the places we had visited, including the ones we weren’t so keen on, in an effort to provide an admittedly biased resource for others who are looking for great places to get naked. The bias part is simply admitting that the very thing we’re not looking for may well be the thing somebody else is looking for.

Looking for naturist nirvana on Fuerteventura

I’ve listed those original posts at the end of this post, and I’m gradually working through them again as we’ve done a lot of traveling since 2014, and I never quite got to the end of the series. BUT NOW… we have interactive Google Maps, which can be updated as we go along.

CLICK THE LINK HERE to go to our INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP where we’ve marked the NAKED PLACES WE’VE BEEN.


Now you can click through to our personalized Google map of “Places we’ve Been Naked,” which will provide you with a link to the most recent information and photos on the web, and our brief commentary in the list view regarding our visit there. As noted on the map, I can’t quite figure out why all the pins don’t automatically appear on the map, but as soon as you click on the link from the list, it will pin it on the map.

CLICK THE LINK HERE to go to our INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP where we’ve marked the NAKED PLACES WE’VE BEEN.

By now, I have over a hundred blog posts since 2013, so if you’re looking for information about a particular place, or would like to know about our experiences there, use the form below to inquire. It’s always fun to chat with people who are looking to plan their next “nakation!”

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING WE’VE ALREADY BLOGGED ABOUT?


Alternatively, if you would like to suggest a place we need to add to our list, or have some other question regarding our naturist travels, we invite you to fill out the form below…


Hope this is useful, and that others can benefit from our thirty years (Oy!!) of naturist travel experience. Bon voyage!

In the meantime, here are the links to those previous posts:

One-Hundred Naked Places – North America

Revised – June 2019

One-Hundred Naked Places – Africa, Asia, and Australia

Currently being revised

One-Hundred Naked Places – France

One-Hundred Naked Places – Europe (other than France)

Under Construction

One-Hundred Naked Places – Caribbean, Central and South America

Under Construction

Back into the Naked Blogosphere!

Spring is a really difficult time in my line of work. No question that blogging is one of my favorite things to do in my free time, but that makes the bold assumption that I actually have free time.

Things are looking a bit more hopeful for that in the coming weeks, and I have several prompts in the queue, so I’m eager to get back out there on the web. In the meantime, I started posting to our naturist Instagram again @naturistdan, so I thought I’d lift a few photos from that feed to get back into the Meandering Naturist game.

Thanks for following our blog! Hope to be posting again soon about our most recent naturist travels, along with a few random musings about social nudity and life!

GALLERY: Nakations on Corisca

Working on the Naturist’s Guide to Corisca, so I thought it might be good to put up a collage of photos from our visits to this naturist haven from our several visits over the past fifteen years. An island with France sensibilities toward naturism, Italian influences for cuisine, and all with a quirky Corsican twist makes for a great nakation.

The Naked Truth about Naturist Brazil

So, it’s September. Our summer travels are over and it’s back to the grind; a time that is always a period of reflection for me as I comb through photos of our travels while I start dreaming about the next adventure for the drawing board.

This time, I came across the photos from our trip to Brazil a couple years ago, realizing that I never actually blogged on our experiences there. Well, that is, at least not in the present or past tense. I did write a post about our perils of trying to to get there in the first place called “Getting Naked in Brazil = Complicated!” At the time, we were living in France, and we simply couldn’t find a way to maneuver the complicated task of getting an American tourist visa to Brazil while residing in France.

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Praia do Pinho

What I had NOT expected in response to that post was an admonishing email from a reader who warned me about the covert operations of the naturist movement in Brazil, and offered disquieting news about a particular place in Brazil where he cited a sort of pyramid scheme gone awry that ended in huge monetary losses and even allegations of murder!

Murder!? What the hell??? We already knew you had to be careful about pick-pockets in Rio, but is one really in danger of getting murdered while naked in Brazil?

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Cabins at Colina do Sol

Finally, at the end of 2015 (and into the beginning of 2016) we made it to Brazil, book-ending our trip with requisite visits to Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls, with stops along the way at the naturist beach (resort?) Praia do Pinho, and finally, the infamous Colina do Sol – yes indeed, the very place the dude had warned me not to visit. “And for God’s sake, don’t try to buy a house there unless you wanna get dead!”

Spoiler alert. We stayed a week at the place. We didn’t buy a house. And nobody got murdered!

While we were there, we stayed in the “Hotel” Ocara – something of a foreshadowing of our entire experience at Colina do Sol, which might best be described as an amazing idea that never quite came to fruition. It seems that one naturist entrepreneur named Celso Rossi had acquired a large plot of land in the beautiful green hills above Porto Allegre, then proceeded to lay out the plans for an expansive naturist village with summer homes sheltered in a tropical forest, a man-made lake, a full service restaurant and even a hotel. We spent quite a lot of time with Celso during our visit, who we found to be warm and resoundingly enthusiastic about all things naturism, but spoke candidly about the evolution of this naked utopia in Brazil.

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The lake at Colina do Sol

The story is long and tangly, but resonated deeply with me as I have a brother who got buried in the complexities of running his own business until he ended up in a negative cash flow situation, using tomorrow’s projected revenue to pay yesterday’s bills – always a landslide in the making. Add to that mix the Socratic (I use the word with trepidation) negotiations of the home owner’s association as various people bought into the dream of their own personal naturist vacation hamlets, and a particularly fervent group of Americans who were going to make Colina do Sol their go to place when it’s cold up here and the middle of summer down there. Even by Celso’s account, the sand started slipping from beneath his toes on his own beach, and the untimely death of one of the homeowners led to speculation and allegations about fiduciary scheming and criminal wrong-doing!

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Celso, our host

At the time of our visit, (2016) we stayed in the three story hotel where the top two floors remained unfinished. The lakeside restaurant that had once been the center of social activity had recently closed, and hours on the beach near the lake were decidedly quiet for a summer weekend day, though there were obviously people living in the cabins on the sprawling roads that provided a terrific circuit for morning naturist walks. We were the only guests at the hotel during our stay, and perhaps the first Americans to visit since the whole property management debacle of some years before, so Celso spent many evenings with us, guitar in hand, retelling the dream of his naturist nirvana and his unrelenting passion to see the project move forward, despite the hurdles of the past. At this writing, I think he still lives on the property with his wife, but is no longer involved in the naturist center (restaurant and hotel) that is rumored to be under new management and poised for a renaissance.

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The pool – heated by the warm air of Brazil

Would we go back? Despite the unpredictable weather, (It rains a LOT in that part of Brazil!) I liked the place quite a lot (more so than my wife) and could imagine a very pleasant stay in one of the little cabins when there’s nine inches of snow on the ground at home. Seeing video footage of the place when it was at its zenith – ten years ago, perhaps – I found myself longing for the vitality of the naturist centers in Europe, thinking this might be a viable winter alternative on this side of the Atlantic. That was not the case during our visit, but as is the case with most naturist places, timing is everything. It’s most definitely worth keeping an eye on the place, though indeed, I’m not likely to buy a home there!

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On patrol at Praia do Pinho

Our other naturist stay in Brazil, with its unremarkably modest accommodations, was at Praia do Pinho, about a 90 minute flight south of Rio. Here again, weather had a significant influence on our impressions of the place where rainy periods significantly outnumbered the sunny ones, and our small room became claustrophobic when sun-worship on the beach simply wasn’t viable. The beach itself turns up on many “most beautiful nude beaches in the world” lists, and I think that designation is well deserved. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that summer in the south of Brazil does not come with the arid climate of summer in the South of France. Interestingly, there were a lot of nice places to stay near Praia do Pinho that would have greatly influenced our overall read on the place, though it’s always difficult to weigh the value of the luxury walking naked from your room to the beach. I suppose it just depends on what you think a nakation actually is.

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A walk to the beach

As a footnote to our Brazilian experience, with all the fuss about that scantily clad girl from Ipanema, we saw exactly zero naked people or topless women on the mainstream beaches in Brazil. To be sure, the bikini bottoms looked (uncomfortably!) skimpy, though you see that just about anywhere these days. But suffice it to say, there was nothing on the beaches of Ipanema or Copacabana that would not meet the stringent Facebook rules for public decency – which the seasoned naturist knows to be ridiculously conservative. Like most South American countries, Brazil has its own fair share of prudery that belies the implicit notion that social nudity is really a thing there.

A beautiful county worth exploration? Absolutely.

A naturist destination for the sake of nakation? Sadly… not quite.

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Contemplating the story of Colina do Sol

 

 

GALLERY: Nakations on Mallorca

We’re currently enjoying our third “nakation” on Mallorca, each time finding a new little cove or a quiet trail for a naturist walk. We never tire of the turquoise sea and the brilliant blue skies, nor the amazing service and conviviality at Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat. Thought it was time to post a gallery of some of our greatest hits from the past three years.

You may wish to see our other three posts about “nakationing” on Mallorca:

Nude Beach Combing in Mallorca

Mallorca Hospitality – Grant and Jordi Style

The North Side of Naked Mallorca

Gallery

GALLERY: Reminiscing on Greece 2018

We have two naturist adventures this summer – the first being Gavdos and Crete (the second is yet to come) – each of which are stunning for naturists in very different ways. Where I live, the weather has been bleak, rainy, and humid, so I decided to binge a bit this morning while reminiscing about nakation in Greece. <sigh>