What to do with your clothes when Naturism calls

by Richard Frisbie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday May 2, 2007

Naturism, the practice of nudism, is, by its very definition, a natural thing to do. So why do so many people prefer to ogle, stare and peep at naked fellow humans rather than disrobe and join them? Is it a size thing? Worried mine's bigger than yours? Is there an innate fear of exposure - of stark nakedness - in front of our enemies coded in our genetics that prevents us from shedding our jeans? If so, why doesn't everyone have it? If it is learned, how do so many overcome it? I turned these questions over in my mind as I stood, ambivalent, at the entrance to the nude beach, in a classic 'Fight-or-Flight,' 'Disroded-or-Dressed,' dilemma. Finally, since I always do what I fear most - I stripped.

The Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France is just east of Provence and west of the Pyranees, on the Mediterranean's Golfe de Lyon. It has nude beaches where you can relax au naturel, making it the top destination in France for naturist holidays and clothing optional vacations each Summer. Plage Bocal du Tech and Plage de Torreilles in Perpignan boast sun, sand, and gay locals, while l'?spiguette, near Montpellier (perhaps the gayest French city outside of Paris), is the largest nude gay beach in all of France.

From lakeside retreats in the mountains, to resorts on miles of pristine beach, all types of lodging and entertainment are available. Couples, singles, swingers and families are all accommodated in their every need; the diversity is amazing. There are even nudist campgrounds. I spent a week touring this beautiful region and learned that it was very difficult to keep my clothes on! Once I got over my false modesty- or whatever it was that kept me bound in my restrictive clothing- I learned that to be truly free I must be naked. So naked on the beach went I.

Though naturism isn't just for the beach. Cap D'Agde has a naturist resort village with banks, groceries, shops, restaurants and even nightclubs, all within the compound. True naturists don't think of it as clothing optional, they think no clothes. That means when not on the beach, or in the pool, I was shopping naked. That was pretty cool once I figured out what to do with my wallet! (I got a leather holder for that and my ID to hang around my neck.) I loved that nearby communities of non-naturists are referred to as textile zones by the locals.

After a warm day at the beach, the nights turned absolutely steamy. The Port Nature section of Cap D'Agde is where the evening entertainment turns hot. For some reason the tradition is naked by day and bizarrely clothed by night. Gay and straight bars and discos are populated with naturists and nearby "textiles' outfitted in the wares from the many risqu? shops in "the Port." Transparent clothes with naked extremities hanging out, and all kinds of outlandish outfits are the "norm." I was happy to stick to clothes-optional regimen, even if some people stared as if I was the strange one. Imagine!

Wineries, Roman ruins, Cathar Castles and nature preserves abound throughout this region. Anytime I could tear myself away from the beach and force myself to put clothes back on (what a shock that was) I enjoyed being a tourist in this historically rich area. Excellent cuisine, both haute and not, from hearty peasant food at the local bistro to several restaurants with Michelin stars, and the good local wines to compliment the meals made the visit a bit of gastronomical heaven. It is France, after all! With over 2,000 years of history, fine sandy beaches and unbelievable natural beauty, the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France is not to be missed.

  • www.sunfrance.com

  • www.naturist.de

    Richard Frisbie is a bookseller and publisher in New York State whose food & wine travel articles appear in LGBTQ and regional periodicals, as-well-as at Gather.com, Globalfoodie.com and GoNomad.com. He accepts free copies of books for review, restaurant meals to critique, bottles of wine and liquor for tastings, and all-expense-paid trips in exchange for articles about the destinations. He is paid for these articles. Richard promotes informed, authentic information about food, wine and travel, and does not allow the financial arrangements and/or sponsorship to affect his judgment. You can email him at: [email protected]

    Comments on Facebook