The World’s Largest Nudist Colony, Cap d’Agde

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to do your banking in the altogether or to dine in a restaurant full of naked people, you may be interested to know that there is a place where you can gratify your curiosity. The Quartier Naturiste at Cap d’Agde, on the Mediterranean coast of France, is the largest nudist resort in the world. This is no seedy retreat of high hedges and furtive-looking volley-ballers, but a small, cosmopolitan city with boutiques, discotheques, supermarkets, bars, restaurants, a movie theatre, and, of course, acres and acres of naked flesh. At the height of the season up to 20,000 devotees flock here.

To my mind, so much nudity does little but confirm that the human body is (a) on the whole not terribly attractive and (b) notably lacking in places to store billfolds, combs, and loose change. on the other hand if you find this sort of thing appealing or are simply in the mood to give your buttocks that rare treat - a few days of sunshine - Cap d’Agde is certainly the place to do it. The complex consists of four interlocking resorts - Port Nature, Heliopolis, Port Ambonne, and Center Helio Marin - built alongside the old fishing village of Cap d’Agde (itself an attractive but non-nudist resort).

The naturist quarter has two miles of very good beaches, swimming pools, tennis courts, and all the other facilities you would expect at a first-class resort, including its own marina. Here is also France’s only nudist hotel, The Eve, but most visitors stay in small apartments or villas, available at a wide range of prices. If you don’t mind the surprise that comes when you slide bare flesh onto a cold leatherette bar seat or encounter other sometimes all too literal snags, Cap d’Agde does offer an unusual experience. If nothing else, the sight of a supermarket full of naked shoppers is one you won’t forget in a hurry - though you will, of course, have to shed your own clothes to see it.

Details: Cap d’Agde is southwest of Montpellier, between Marseilles and the Spanish border, in the Languedoc-Rousillon region. Prices for a small studio apartment for two with kitchenette and shower start at about $120 a week in low season. Booking forms and details can by acquired from Genevieve Naturisme, Port Ambonne, BP 539 France, or Eden Holidays, 47 Brunswick Centre, London, WC1N 1AF, England, and Emsdale Travel, 91-93 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex, 1G1 4PG, England. For the last two, be sure to specify whether you wish to include the costs of round trip travel from England.

William Bryson, The Palace Under the Alps, p52-53

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