FAQ for naturism in France

  • What is naturism?

Respect for oneself and for others. Naturism encourages respect for each person, for their differences and their uniqueness. Being naked together helps us accept the human body with its qualities and also its flaws.

A return to sources. Away from the stress of our daily lives, the body is freed, the mind opens up and we look for harmony with nature. Quite naturally, everyone contributes to preserving the peace and quiet and cleanliness of their environment.

A friendly atmosphere. Family and friends are at the heart of naturist holidays.

  • How did naturism originate?

In France, the term naturism was used for the first time in 1778, by a man called Planchon as the title of his book. This book advocated a healthier life by observing some natural laws. But it was above all in the 1920s that naturism really became popular, driven by health practitioners and committed believers in this forerunner to a healthier lifestyle.

  • What are the advantages of naturism?

Direct contact with the natural elements and especially that of the skin to the air, naturism undeniably leads to fitness. Naturism means feeling good about yourself and getting on better with others, in an unspoiled and respected natural environment.

  • What is the difference between nudism and naturism?

Nudism is simply a matter of not wearing clothes. Naturism goes much further than nudism in that it reflects a way of life. Naturists want to be close to nature and are seeking a healthy lifestyle.

  • Can you go nude everywhere in France?

Article 222-32 of the new penal code (applicable since 1 March 1994) stipulates: "Deliberate sexual display in the sight of others in a place accessible to the public gaze is punishable by one year in prison and a fine of one hundred thousand francs ".

By government circular, the legislator stipulates: "The charge has been worded in such a way as to rule out any possibility of proceedings against persons practising naturism in places specially designated for this purpose".

So to live as a free and happy naturist, you just have to be in a designated naturist area!

  • Do you always have to be naked in naturist centres?

No! Naturists prefer to be naked, but they do wear clothes when needed. In holiday centres, wearing clothes is tolerated in certain circumstances (in some weather conditions, etc.) and when participating in some sporting activities. Naturists consider that clothes were not designed to hide the body. The rules about wearing clothes may vary in naturist centres, but nudity is generally the norm when the temperature permits and usually required near swimming pools and bathing places.

It is still best to contact each centre to find out what policy it operates with regard to nudity.

  • What is the difference between a naturist centre and a nudist beach?

On nudist beaches (or unregulated beaches), wearing a bathing costume is not compulsory. There are two types of nudist beach:

- Nudist beaches recognised by the local authorities (prefectoral permit)

- Beaches that have become nudist because so many nudists use them

Naturist centres, on the other hand, are private areas. In the same way as clothed areas (i.e. non naturist), they offer a range of services such as sporting activities, child care, café or restaurant facilities, minimarket, etc. Most naturist centres also offer a naturist bathing area: beach, river or pool.

To obtain a list of the nudist beaches in France, visit the website of the French Naturist Federation (FFN).

  • Do you still need a naturist permit in France?

In France, a permit used to be essential to take part in the activities of a club and to spend your leisure time as a naturist (weekends, etc.) until 2001. The permit also allowed access to activities (e.g. swimming pools, saunas and gyms), interclubs, approved holiday centres all over the world and for admission to another club for a trial period.
Since 2001 it is no longer compulsory at most French naturist centres. However, once again, it is best to find out from each centre before a visit whether or not a permit is required.

  • Can you take children to a naturist centre?

You certainly can! Naturism is all about creating a healthy and natural family atmosphere. In fact nearly 80 % of the naturists who come to stay are families.
Nudity is a positive aspect of child development as it allows a child to get to know its own body and accept the changes easily. Children very quickly learn that there are places where you can go about naked and others where you have to wear clothes.
Helping children to accept themselves as they are, improving their respect for others and learning the importance of caring for the environment; these are all values conveyed by naturism.

  • What sort of people stay at the naturist centres?

The naturists who stay at the holiday centres mostly belong to a high social class, many of them are education or medical professionals.

  • Can single people stay in a naturist centre?

The holiday centres are essentially open to couples and families, few of them accept single people. It is usual for single people to be asked to show their naturist permit.

  • Are all saunas in France naturist?

No! In fact, naturist saunas are actually the exception. In France, people are expected to cover themselves with a swimming costume or towel in a sauna.
If you are looking for a naturist sauna in France, the simplest solution is to go the sauna at a naturist centre (campsite or the site of an association). Or ask your local sauna if they have hours set aside for naturists.