France is a country where going naked is second nature. This is true particularly in the south of France and along the Mediterranean and a little less common on the wind-swept beaches of northern France. Find out what you need to know before you expose all in this bare-skin-friendly country. There are some general rules which are not written down but are wise to follow, mostly based on common sense.
1. Determine whether you want to get naked or just go topless. While France is very casual about dress, there are many spots where it is acceptable to go topless, but you would be an oddity if you dropped your bottoms.
2. If you’re a novice at the whole full Monty bit, then choose going topless first: this can be a way for nudism rookies to dabble in the concept. But you may well find that due to a mix of fear of skin cancer and the prospect of creepy voyeurs, French women are keeping their bikinis on.
3. Decide on your destination. If you just plan to go topless, most Riviera beaches should do just fine. There are lots of tiny coves between Nice and the Italian border where most people are topless. But remember that Nice is a big city and I don’t recommend going naked or even topless on the beaches in the center of town. Instead, opt for the long stretch of pebbly beach between Nice and Antibes. Even here many people keep their tops on. So if you chicken out, you won't stand out.
4. If you want to go completely nude, check with the locals which beaches, or which part of the beaches, cater to the altogether. At many beaches, it’s perfectly normal to go around dressed. If that's the case, settle in while still dressed until you feel more comfortable. Once you're ready to undress, do it with as little commotion as possible. It's not likely to be as big an event for everyone else as it is for you.
5. France has many nudist resorts (the first one in the world was founded there in 1950). The most famous nude destination in the world is in France, at Cap d'Agde on the Mediterranean and in the Languedoc region, also called 'Naked City'.
7. Behave! Don't gawk, finger-point, giggle, take pictures, or otherwise succumb to the urge to behave like a 12-year-old boy. It can be tempting, since many people are not used to being surrounded by so much flesh. The best way to blend and be accepted is to just act natural, so to speak.
8. If possible, contact the resort or do your own research about the destination before you go so you know exactly what is acceptable and what is not. Different places have different expectations, and what is the norm in one could be offensive in another.
1. Be sure you use plenty of sun-screen. Don't forget that some areas of your body may have never been exposed to sunlight like this.
2. Join an international nudist association. Not only will you get helpful information, but many French resorts and camp grounds offer discounts to members.
History of naturism in France
In December 2014, the 103-year old Christiane Lecocq died. Born in northern France in 1911, a time when women dressed to reveal very little of their bodies, she founded the first naturist resort with her husband, Albert Lecocq. They didn’t invent naturism; nude bathing was common in Scandinavia and Russia and the Germans had produced an ideology of social nudity called free body movement, but in France it was clandestine at that time. In 1932, Christiane joined the Club Gymnique du Nord, a sports club near Lille where members played sports in the nude.
In 1948, the Lecocgs founded the French Naturist Federation and a year later published La Vie au Soleil, the world’s leading naturist magazine.
Their idea was not just to sunbathe nude, but to make nudity a way of life. They followed a regime of no drinking or smoking, a healthy diet and championed the promotion of ‘social nudity’ for everyone. In 1950 they opened the world’s first naturist holiday resorts, the Centre Hélio-Marin ("Centre of sun and sea”) at Montalivet, in the Gironde. Today it’s one of the largest in Europe with around 20,000 visitors a year. The industry in France is said to generate €250 million annually to the French economy.