There’s a glorious deep-blue sky above this French beach resort. I know that fact well because I’m awkwardly keeping my eyes skyward — if I glance down at the locals I may catch a front-row view of something I don’t usually expect to see on a busy town street.
On the tiny southern-French peninsula of Cap d’Agde sits a popular, gay-friendly resort town. Just like any normal town, it has cafés, a post office, a supermarket, apartments and hairdressers. Most towns, however, don’t have a sign at the entrance declaring “naturism obligatory.” Meaning, no need to pack too many clothes for this trip, if any at all.
Village Naturiste, with 40,000 visitors each day in the high season, is one of the biggest naturist resorts in the world — for all intents and purposes, it’s a fully functioning town. Perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to go out for a meal and not worry about what to wear.
You know those dreams where you walk into a shop to buy something, then suddenly realize that you’re not wearing any clothes? Well, I stumbled upon the very spot where those dreams originate.
For first-timers like my partner and I — who had curiously read about Village Naturiste and thought on a whim, “Why not?” — it feels completely against all social norms to walk down a street past open-air cafés while butt naked, harsh farmer’s tan on display. It’s so incredibly opposite to what I’m used to that some small part of me expects to be arrested at any moment for flashing an entire village.
I quickly realize that we are the only ones who seem fazed by the whole no-clothes thing.
There are men and women of all shapes and sizes around Heliopolis, the main shopping and residential area of town. Whether certain body parts are sagging or have been surgically “uplifted,” it’s all on display — everyone is accepted here. There are elderly women, family groups and young married couples all going about their business. The only thing everyone has in common is some enviable full-body tans.
Village Naturiste first opened its gates in the early 1970s. These days there are more than 180 businesses operating here as well as a number of apartments available to rent for holiday stays.
We head to the most popular part of town, the two-kilometre sandy beach, where visitors have flocked to swim, sunbathe or (very uncomfortably, by the looks off it) play beach volleyball. A section of the beach is dedicated to gay visitors, and to my relief, it feels far from seedy —in fact, it’s rather relaxed.
We spot a number of open-air bars on the foreshore. We realize that, against initial trepidation, we’re actually getting used to the novelty of strutting around in our birthday suits for the world to see, and we decide to grab a seat at the bar.
Even ordering a glass of wine, when doing it naked, feels rebellious.
When the sun sets and we get ready to leave, I notice that I’m no longer strategically holding my knapsack out in front of me and I’ve put it back over my shoulders. You know what? Wind whipping through where the sun doesn’t normally shine isn’t so bad after all — and is actually kind of liberating. Who knew?
Where the nude beach ends, there’s a small no-man’s land between Village Naturiste and the public beachfront. I look at the misguided people in swimwear and think, “What prudes!”
The town of Agde is on a major rail line, with regular connections to nearby Montpellier. From Agde train station, Village Naturiste is just a quick bus ride away. Alternatively, if you have your own wheels, there is a large car park at the entrance to the village.
Tourists pay a small fee to get into Village Naturiste. Everyone entering needs to follow certain rules, including no photography and no lewd behaviour.
Cap d’Agde is listed among Daily Xtra’s 10 Great Nude Beaches of Europe.