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Nude sunbathing question, southern France

Hey everyone- I've been a reader for a long time, but never asked a question before. I hope this is an appropriate forum.

In August, my husband and I will be traveling to the French Riviera for a few days, and then onto Provence. While we like to lay out in the sun in the buff, we're not big on the nude beach or nude resort scene. When we sunbathe here in the US, we usually find isolated areas, away from others.

We're hoping there will be opportunites to do the same in France. We're looking at canoeing around the Pont du Gard, and maybe day tripping to the Calanques.

Here's my question... do others do this, and is it socially acceptable? If another outdoor enthusiast were to stumble upon us, would it be viewed as OK (I know I'm generalizing here, everyone is different...)? If someone reported us, what type of response or punishment could we expect from local law enforcement?

To be clear, we're talking only about nude sunbathing, and nothing else(hanky panky, or otherwise)

Thanks all!

Posted by
3 posts

I'm not sure anyone of you actually read my post above???

I'm aware of Adge and other nude beaches/resort in southern France. Not interested in that (esp the swinger side, no thanks!) Please don't make this about sex.

The question is about sunbathing in remote or rural areas, and the potential repercussions.

Posted by
4684 posts

Topless sunbathing is generally pretty well tolerated in France. Complete nudity might get you in trouble outside specific nudist resorts.

Posted by
8293 posts

I very much doubt that many, if any, of the contributors to this forum have any experience with nude sunbathing in France, in remote rural areas or anywhere else. I may be wrong and will be delighted if I am.

Posted by
4796 posts

Not prudish at all. Whatever floats your boat. Unfortunately many (if not most) who go to clothing optional beaches should be relegated to the clothing mandatory beaches.

Posted by
3122 posts

This reminds me of a comment by a friend after I'd been to Brazil, to the effect that "I won't want to visit a place where all the women go topless at the beach." Huh? I spent quite a bit of time at beaches in Brazil and never saw a single woman without a bikini top on. Apparently a movie called "Blame it on Rio" had come out around that time that unrealistically depicted a lot of topless beachgoing.

Posted by
1090 posts

Our experience has generally been similar to others in that going topless at beaches is generally acceptable. Completely nude, much less common. France is a pretty small country, relatively speaking, and with most of Europe on vacation at any available beach during August the chances of finding seclusion to go completely nude with nobody else around will likely be very low.

Posted by
2542 posts

You probably will not find much seclusion on any French beach in August. Expect large numbers of people everywhere near water along both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastal areas. The swell will be so significant that if you have not already secured accommodations, it might be too late for this summer.

Topless females will go completely unnoticed. Beyond that, you would draw unwanted attention unless you have found a beach dedicated to nude sunbathing.

Posted by
2466 posts

You will discover that when the ladies get up, things go downward...
This doesn't mean that you can't go to Agde, for some sun.

Posted by
4037 posts

A search for France, beaches (or the French word plages) and naturism will turn up suggestions, although most may be more organized than you like.
Norma, do you know about the large nude beach at Oka park, just outside Montreal?

Posted by
8293 posts

Does it still exist? The one in Oka, I mean. Haven’t heard a peep about it for years., but then I don’t move in unclothed circles. To get back to the OP’s quest, they want a rural retreat, I gather to be away from the nude hurly burly, so a beach would not do. A country hotel with a private terrace, perhaps?

Posted by
12172 posts

I grew up in San Diego and surfed Black's Beach, in the 60's and 70's, before they made it a "legal" nude beach. Back in those days you saw primarily hippie families where dad, mom and all the kids were enjoying the day sans clothes. You also saw a few, presumably rich, men with their much younger model/actress girlfriends. The beach wasn't at all crowded because it was remote. Once they legalized nudity, Black's became a zoo. They tried to make it illegal again but couldn't put the genie back in the bottle. I haven't been back. In Australia when I surfed there, (back in the 80's) many of the girls were topless with "cheekies" - a forerunner of the thong.

My experience on the Riviera last year was topless is fine, but not very common, on any beach. I didn't see anyone completely nude but I also didn't find any isolated areas. Up in Denmark, I did see occasional nude sunbathers in more isolated spots on the beaches.

My theory is the younger generation is more concerned about skin cancer and less concerned about getting a tan - so most of the topless ladies are, at least, well into their 40's. If you're so inclined, you may be able to find a private spot. Otherwise, you're good with topless but probably not bottomless.

Swimsuits on men run the gamut from speedo to board shorts, anything in that wide range seems acceptable.

Posted by
10176 posts

My husband (who grew up in France) and I discussed this at breakfast today and came to the same conclusion as others. You won’t be able to find an isolated place, but if you have a large balcony on a top floor in a rural area or with no buildings nearby, you should be able to sunbathe as you prefer. Generally, people in rural areas will have more conservative views on the matter.

Posted by
3207 posts

When my daughter did her junior year abroad, they went to Spain for break. A few decided to try topless sunbathing. The conclusion was that immediately the sleaziest men on the beach patrolled to their area. The experiment did not last long. They were disgusted.

And for those who are making fun of bodies that aren't perfect and who chose to be nude or topless, grow up.

Posted by
4037 posts

To Norma: Yes, it does. That there is no "peep" about it -- in all senses -- is a sign that emotions have calmed down. Informally the park rangers ignore the no-nudity signs but keep nudes to a beach that is about a kilometre from the main strand and therefore rather isolated.

Posted by
3 posts

Everyone who took a shot at answering my question, thank you. I really appreciate the comments and advise. Looks like its nude beach or nothing. Sigh.

Posted by
4535 posts

I'm sorry that I do not have much to add, other than topless sunbathing is fairly common on many French beaches. The Cote d'Azure will be pretty crowded and so I doubt too that you would find secluded inlets. I suggest Googling nudist beaches in France and seeing if something comes up that is open about nude bathing without too much of the "scene" you wish to avoid.

Posted by
3391 posts

Head over to Cap d'Agde! It's not the secluded area you're looking for...about 40,000 people descend during the summer but it's a naturist town where clothing is completely optional! I spent a summer near there once and the further west you walked, the more nudity there was.
You are going to be in the south of France at the height of the summer season...you won't find too many secluded beaches that time of the year.
As a rule - at least in my experience - nude sunbathing isn't really done even in France. Topless yes but not total birthday suit.

Posted by
734 posts

I was down stream near the Pont du Gare a couple of years ago with my husband. A beautiful wild gorge, very few people on the river bank , lots of privacy and space. The ladies to our left were topless and the couple to our right were naked. Was a little surprised at first but it was all very relaxed and not a problem. Did feel a little over dresses in my cossie but wasn't feeling brave!

Posted by
6113 posts

As far as I am aware, nudity isn’t illegal anywhere in France. However, it’s polite not to bare all anywhere other than on a beach.

Sorry, I don’t know your area in question, but in other parts of France, there are nudist areas on most non-town beaches, usually at the furthest point from the access. Sounds like a question for Google, as no one on this forum has been there.

Posted by
32701 posts

You will find more acceptance of FKK (nudity) on river banks, parks and beaches in Germany where it is part of the culture. Problem is that it is a fair old poke to anywhere in Germany from southern France.

Posted by
1548 posts

The OP was not asking for information on popular nude beaches or anything to do with swinging, which sounds dangerous to me, nor does she seem bothered by an imagined Stephen King-type scenario of seeing a less than perfect body wearing no clothes (ninety percent of us).

'Cline', do not despair, you answered your own question - "When we sunbathe here in the US, we usually find isolated areas". You can do the same when you travel. I'm sure you'll be able to find a secluded spot high up in the Calanques hills, with a terrific view to boot. I am not a naturist but I took the plunge once during a hot spell in England in 1978, on a grassy mound high in Dovedale, England, a hiker's paradise, where I remained undisturbed for a couple of hours. Then, many years later, on a warm September day at the edge of a wooded area above the alpine village of Alpbach, in the company of a small herd of cows, who refused to give me away by ringing their bells.

The worst case scenario, highly unlikely, will be being stumbled upon by a saint of a politician from southeastern United States, who will be so offended that he will rush off to complain to the police and to his mistress. You will then be arrested, only to be released the following morning, after being treated to a buttery croissant and café au lait by the friendly geôlier. It's a win-win situation.

Posted by
16893 posts

The one place where I particularly remember a couple just turning up and stripping off to sun themselves on a rock was in the Calenques. Nobody said "boo." I thought they were German, but I didn't ask.

Posted by
73 posts

I used to live in the south and spent a lot of time hiking (in both the Riviera and s-west). I often stumbled upon nude sunbathers or tiny "plages naturistes" (just secluded little inlets, not at all like Agde--although I've been there as well!). I can't imagine anyone would care if they found you tanning nude. There were also plenty of women that wore just the smallest of thong bottoms at our local public beach (le Mourillon), tanning as close to nudity as possible in full public, at all times of year. No one cared. Topless sunbathing is still completely legal, but definitely less popular--it's mainly older women that do it now, so it's lost its appeal for the younger generation.

As others said though, you may have a hard time finding secluded areas in August!

Posted by
2106 posts

This thread reminds me of the old adage:

The nice thing about a nudist wedding is that you can always tell who is the best man.