One of the destinations high on my travel wish-list is to explore the beaches of the southwest of Frnace - particularly around Bordeaux and the beaches of the Aquitaine coast.
Why this region? It's renowned as one of the best naturist areas in Europe. That's worth investigating.
Why is the southwest of France so popular with people who like to vacation naked?
Naturism has a long history, dating back to the Age of Enlightenment. Over time, naturism has become one of the key values of the preservation of the environment, sustainable development, and respect for others — it’s very in-tune with the current tourism trends.
Each year, thousands of holidaymakers head to the southwest of France to experience a naturist vacation. This is a region where nature dominates - there is a long tradition of embracing naturism.
There are a number of specialist naturist holiday villages in the southwest of France, and they’re continuing to upgrade and develop their facilities. This includes new types of outdoor accommodation — equipped tents, chalets, and caravans — and high-end equipment and facilities such as hammams, saunas, fitness centres, and thalassotherapy.
The fédération française de naturisme has 40,000 members, and about 30 percent of those vacation in the southwest of France each year. Plus, the region's specialist naturist resorts also attract a lot of visitors from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and the United States.
There’s a lot of different naturist resorts to choose from, whether that’s on the beach in the Landes and Gironde, or inland in the Périgord and Lot-et-Garonne countryside.
Which are some of the best beaches along the Aquitaine coast?
Aquitaine has Europe’s biggest beach of fine sand, stretching along 250 kilometres of ocean coastline. Added to this are the 500 kilometres of shoreline across the lakes and estuaries of the region.
This vast Atlantic coastline forms an almost straight, vertical line as it heads southwards from the Pointe de Grave to Spain, and it’s home to numerous boating harbours and seaside resorts — from the beaches of the Médoc in the north, to those of the Basque coast on the Spanish border, via the shores of the Landes region.
One of the features of this coastline is the number of nature reserves, protecting the diverse plant and animal life. These include Le Teich Ornithological Reserve in the Bay of Arcachon, and Marais d’Orx Nature Reserve in the southern Landes — both of which you can visit.
Other points of interest include, the presence of huge dunes along most of the shoreline — including the highest in Europe, the Dune du Pilat which is 104 metres high and looks out over the Bay of Arcachon — and the big lakes just a few miles inland.
You can distinguish four types of coastline in Aquitaine — four geographical areas, four kinds of landscape, four different atmospheres. Running from north to south, they are the Médoc, the Bay of Arcachon, the Landes, and the Basque Coast.
Are the gay beaches easy to find and easy to get to?
For some beaches, you’ll sometimes have to leave the car and then walk a few hundred meters.
The most renowned gay beaches in Gironde are Euronat beach, Grayan-et-L’Hopital — at the north and south of the naturist camp, La Jenny beach, and Le Porge. In Landes the gay beaches are Casernes beach, and Seignosses. In the Pyrénées Atlantiques the gay beach is Cent Marches near Bidart.
Are there any gay beaches that are also clothing optional beaches?
Everywhere on these beaches is clothing optional. It’s a very tolerant region and everyone has a lot of respect for each other. If you want to wear a swimsuit or not, that’s up to you.