Nudists fight for bare essentials as swingers invade holiday colony

To make a French nudist blush might appear to be a mission impossible. Not at Cap d'Agde, on the Languedoc coast, home to "naked city", Europe's largest nudist holiday colony.

A long-simmering war between two tribes of the unclothed – "traditional" nudists and so-called "libertines" or exponents of free sex – exploded into a public protest at the town's council meeting this week.

Old-fashioned naturists have been complaining for years that Cap d'Agde's once-sedate nudist quarter has been disfigured by an influx of partner-swapping clubs and raunchy hotels. A flurry of arson attacks on sex clubs two years ago was blamed on low-level terrorism by nudist fundamentalists.

At this week's Cap d'Agde council meeting, the protests took a more peaceful form. Old-fashioned nudists complained that they, and their children, were being confronted with "voyeurist" and "exhibitionist" behaviour, including sexual acts in public. Worse, they suggested, the "deviant" newcomers sometimes walked about in their clothes and mocked the "real" nudists.

Florence Denestebe, an independent local councillor, said: "When the sun shines, there is an area of Cap d'Agde which turns into the European capital of free sex."

She asked the town's mayor, and MP, Gilles d'Ettore, to intervene before Cap d'Agde's "oversexed" image caused an "explosion of libertine behaviour in non-nudist areas" of the town.

About 30 traditional nudists (fully dressed) applauded her words from the public gallery. One said: "We bought a flat here 34 years ago because we wanted to live naked, to live with the sun. We wanted a natural life. Now, we are surrounded by wild animals."

Another protester said: "There are often more people walking around dressed than undressed... If you are just an ordinary nudist, they stare at you as if you were something bizarre."

The "Village Naturiste" at Cap d'Agde, established 40 years ago, attracts up to 40,000 tourists at one time. Sometimes called "Naked City", it has its own two kilometre-long beach, port and marina, fenced off from the rest of the town. The village has nudist camp sites, apartments, a hotel, shops, restaurants, bars, hairdressers and even a nudist post office and bank.

In the last decade, the village has been colonised by sex clubs and partner-swapping apartment complexes with names like Les Jardins d'Eden or Les Jardins du Babylon.

Deirdre Morrissey, a journalist who visited the resort for the Irish Independent last year, said rules had been relaxed to allow an invasion by the "libertine movement" for "commercial purposes". "Libertines believe in pure hedonism, including exhibitionism, as we discovered when we sampled the nightlife," she wrote.

"Over our après-dinner cappuccino, we were a little surprised to see a buffed-up guy dressed in a police uniform mincing around the seating area of the restaurant bothering the patrons. [He ended by] thrusting his naked bits at a pair of female diners, like some sort of bizarre, hedonistic digestif."

Mr d'Ettore said yesterday that he would consider the complaints but had already done all he could to keep the two tribes from each other's throats. By-laws had been passed to ban minors from the raunchier establishments. The protesters were not necessarily representative, he said. There had been no formal complaints this summer.

"We didn't invent partner-swapping or libertine behaviour in Cap d'Agde. This has been a social trend for 10 years," the centre-right mayor and parliamentary deputy said. "I refuse to make value judgements on the sexual habits of other people. I can't put a policeman behind all 40,000 nudists."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Support - Helpdesk Analyst

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a customer focu...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Learning & Development Manager - North London - £53,000

£45000 - £53000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Learning & Develo...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - Magazines

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's largest regional newspaper pub...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn