Hard Times at Cap d’Agde

When we tell people we like to go on “nakation in France,” if they know anything about French naturism, the first thing they will ask is whether we go to “that naked city… Cap Dog… or something like that.”

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Hotel Eve

Of course, at this point, they’re probably already confused as to why somebody would want to be naked in France in the first place, and that’s before you try to explain the surreal atmosphere that is – arguably – the international capital of naturism. As many have observed, it’s not a resort, but a city, where neither clothing – nor a good deal of discretion about anything else – is required.

We have been to Cap d’Agde several times since 1997 when we made our first pilgrimage to the high holy place among the naked. At that time, I would say that this naturist utopia had most certainly fallen upon hard times, as many of the apartment buildings had deteriorated into disrepair and neglect, the landscaping consisted largely of grass growing IMG_0157through cracks in the concrete, and there was clearly a sense of growing tension between the naturists and the libertines (aka, the more sexually adventurous, or if you will, the swingers). One of our subsequent visits was shortly after the most famous of sex clubs had been gutted by fire, allegedly at the hand of a naturist who wished to reclaim the city for the “true naturists,” a term that has defied any viable definition since people started taking their clothes off in public about 100 years ago.

This time, we stayed only one night at Hotel Eve, a somewhat modest establishment on the edge of the naked city that seems to be the only hotel in town that caters to people who only wish to change towels on a daily basis. (wink, wink)  But before you pack up the kids and schedule the next family reunion, I should mention the suggestive artwork adorning the hallways, the beautiful art book on the reception counter that thoroughly documents your options for leather and lace, and the general acceptance around the pool with men who have no qualms about displaying their current state of arousal. Hard times indeed!

IMG_0156All that said, it seems that Cap d’Agde is coming to terms with itself as a place where the naked and the scantily clothed actually can coexist without so much angst and allegation of wrong doing. To my naked eye, it seemed that the sex clubs were much more public this time, as opposed to simply donning clever names that served as cues to those in the know. (A personal favorite is Jeux de Mains… “Hand Games”) Somehow, it all seems so much less apologetic than before. Even at the hotel pool there seemed to be little or no concern about the ominous and omnipotent male erection, nor did the appearance of such present itself (during our brief visit) as a prelude to public sexual interludes.

In the meantime, however, the 1970s concrete apartment blocks have been painted, the landscaping has been replanted, and the public pool in the center of the complex that once looked like a dilapidated city plunge has been renovated and re-framed in a most inviting way. Somebody decided to invest some major cash into the infrastructure of this place – and not a minute too soon.

Would I take my young family there now if I had one? Probably not. Though many do, and I suspect they have a lovely vacation in one of the many self-catering apartments on offer. I have tried to imagine how I would explain all the lingerie and leather shops to my adolescent offspring, not to mention the pole dancing club on a main walkway that has no walls, or the constant stream of humans finding total abandon as they literally dance in the streets. (A beautiful transgender person with breasts and a penis had the stamina and determination to dance the entire day away during our stay.)

IMG_0158To reiterate, in case you are just encountering my blog for the first time, among my most pronounced intentions of blogging has been helping people find a place to find great naturist places – or at the very least, make sure they know what they are getting into before they arrive. That said, while my wife and I do not subscribe to libertine ideals, Cap d’Agde does seems to have found a certain maturity under the banner of live and let live.

There is something there for everybody. If you find that offensive, it’s probably best you go someplace else. And to be sure, France provides an unmatched number of possibilities.