Where You Can Bare It All On The Beach
Lying on the beach is a form of art for some of us. We come equipped with a cute little swimsuit, towels, sunglasses, magazines and sunscreen. But there are those of us who come less prepared. Called nudists or naturists, they need less than nothing to enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine.
Nude sunbathers are not welcome on every beach, but if you are a fan of beaching in your original bathing suit or checking out others in the nude, then explore the following naturist beaches and resorts peppered along the French Riviera, and beyond.
Plage de Tahiti, St. Tropez
St. Tropez is well known for its beaches, made famous by Brigitte Bardot who started the craze of tiny bikinis in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the trend towards topless sunbathing had taken off. There are plenty of family-friendly beaches for those who wish to keep their modesty intact, but Plage de Tahiti is not one of these. Occupying the northern stretch of Pampelonne Beach in the Baie de Pampelonne, south of St. Tropez and east of Ramatuelle, it is noted for its clothing-optional policy and risqué atmosphere, as well as being a great place to catch celebrities in the nude.
Plage de la Batterie, Cannes
The Plage de la Batterie is near Cannes and offers lots of sunshine, a steady cool sea breeze and an even gender mix - according to recent visitors. The sandy beach is pretty small, only about 30 metres wide, but it is both very pleasant and convenient for dropping by during a visit to Cannes. And it belongs to the French Naturist Federation (FFN), so you can guarantee that sunbathing in the nude is acceptable here.
St. Jean Cap Ferrat
At the furthest end of the Cap, close to the lighthouse, is a popular hangout for nudist beaching. If you're not prepared to accept an eyeful, be careful what you stumble upon among the rocks. Even Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have taken part in a little 2am skinny-dipping, according to the nanny who cared for their children while they rented a $58 million villa in St. Jean Cap Ferrat.
La Haute Garduère
This nudist resort is located in the hills of Provence, between Draguignan and Grasse. It's set off the beaten path, in woodland, with opportunities for long, naked walks through the forest. There are pine trees, shops, rustic restaurants with excellent meals, weekend parties in the season, pool (with an underground viewing window) and a sports ground. Rent campgrounds or caravans if you want to stay longer than one day. Check out Fréjus Naturist Beach which is not too far away. But remember, in order to obtain access to the site, you must have a valid FFN license, which you can purchase when you book a site.
Les Grottes Plage, Ile du Levant
A short ferry ride from Le Lavendou, Ile du Levant is an officially recognized nude island. According to some, this was where nudism was first practised in France, way back in the 1930s. The only part of the island that is not naturist is the port of Heliopolis and the military areas, which are off limits anyway. Everywhere else on the island is clothing optional. Les Grottes Plage is the main nude beach and is a 10-minute walk along the quayside.
Plage de Trayas, Estérel
Located 20km southwest of Cannes, the Plage de Trayas is a naturist beach away from the prying eyes of voyeurs. It is accessed by a tricky staircase of 125 steps, which discourages both families and peeping toms. Don't forget a beach mat since the large red pebbles of the beach may be uncomfortable on your bare bottom after a few hours.
And A Little Further Away ...
Sérignan Plage, Beziers
Sérignan Plage is yet another expansive, golden, sandy nude beach on the Mediterranean coast, approximately 25km southeast of Beziers. There is a naturist resort here too, called the Sérignan Plage Nature, which consists of tents, chalets and mobile homes, along with a bar, restaurant, shop and plenty of onsite entertainment - besides the good old-fashioned nudity.
With a welcoming atmosphere, the beach at Argèles-sur-mer is seven kilometres wide with clear waters that mirror the Argèles Mountains. Though nudity is welcome, if you are looking for a bit of privacy or merely testing out the nudist lifestyle, simply lie down near the coves of Portells and Ouille, which link the rocky coast to the main beach.
Leucate Plage, Port La Nouvelle
Port la Nouvelle is a popular beach area in the summer season, home to approximately 5,000 residents, and nude sunbathing is a welcome lifestyle. There are lots of cafés and restaurants all along the sea front, if all that sunbathing makes you ravenous. In the market square, there is a very small fairground and some snack stalls with live entertainment in the evenings. But definitely put clothes on if you are going to venture from the beach.
Using the Port Camargue as a landmark, explore the vast 18km stretch of fine, sandy beaches and wild natural spaces that offer a variety of sceneries to discover - whether in a swimsuit or in the buff. The beaches are bookmarked between Boucanet and the Espiguette, with bathing, boating, sailing and naturism from east to west. Most of the nude beaching takes place near the lighthouse, so - for absolute privacy and acceptance - venture as close to it as possible to join others in the nude.
According to some, Cap d'Agde is much more than just a nude beach - it is the "World Capital of Nudism." In the "naturist quarter" of this Mediterranean resort town, nudity is legal not only on the beach but also in banks, restaurants and shops. The three-mile beach can get very busy during the summer, but the festive atmosphere and complete nudity will make it worth your while. While the clothing optional atmosphere here is as wholesome as anywhere, there are sections of the beach at night where friskier activities are reported to take place.
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