Topless sunbathing has long been acceptable on the majority of French beaches, but if you plan to sunbathe completely naked it is best to find one of the beaches where naturism is the accepted "dress code." France has quite a number of officially designated nudist beaches, particularly along its Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
Read up on France's nudist beaches and holiday resorts. Some beaches are family-friendly, whilst others are suited to more specific tastes. It's worth spending time on your research to avoid disappointment.
Choose the region of France that you want to visit. The Nude France guide usefully groups the beaches by coast so that you can find information on all the beaches in a region (see Resources). Factor in your budget for travel and accommodation: vacations on the south coast are likely to be more expensive than a visit to the north, especially in the summer season.
Select a region. If you opt for the south-west of France, fly to Bordeaux or Biarritz unless you're arriving in France by ferry and car. These cities are closest to the Atlantic coast of Aquitaine, where you find some of France's top nudist beaches. Montalivet has two nudist beaches close to the Euronat naturist resort. The Montalivet beaches are sandy, family-friendly an have lifeguards. The Ile d'Oleron beaches on the islands around La Rochelle offer a variety of locations and further south, in St. Girons, you can visit a naturist village and beach. In total there are eight official naturist beaches in this region.
Select the south, or the island of Corsica, if you want to be sure of more sun. There are eight beaches along the south coast and four on Corsica. Cap d'Agde is one of the better known resorts: it's a naturist town with a population of around 40,000, but you must pay to enter the town and use its beach. Marseille is the closest airport. Visit the birthplace of French naturism at Ile du Levant. You have to catch a ferry to reach this island beach between Toulon and St. Tropez. There is an unofficial nude beach at Plage de Tahiti south of St. Tropez. It's a perfect place for celebrity-spotting, but probably not an ideal beach for a family visit. Corsican nudist beaches aim at visitors seeking a luxurious, activity holiday and tend to be linked to resorts.
Stay closer to home and take the ferry to Calais. There are three beaches on the French side of the English channel. Berck sur Mer has a large gay nudist beach, and further south in Normandy, there is an extensive sandy beach at Merville, although guides suggest that this beach is favoured by the French gay community. Families should travel to St. Germain near Cherbourg to experience its vast sandy beach and dunes.
- Some beaches have bars and small shops nearby, but others don't. Check what is available and stock up on water and snacks if it's one of those beaches with few amenities.
- Watch out for signs prohibiting photography on nudist beaches.
- Make sure you have reached the officially designated part of the beach before stripping off.
- Don't assume it's fine to behave inappropriately in the sand dunes: watch out for signs and check what the beach guides suggests about beach etiquette.
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