Cap d'Agde

Cap d'Agde (IPA2|kap dagd) is the seaside resort of the town of Agde, France, on the Mediterranean sea in the département of Hérault, within the région of Languedoc-Roussillon. Agde can be reached by TGV SNCF train direct from Paris or Lille whilst the closest airports are Béziers-Cap d'Agde en Languedoc, with direct budget airline services to the UK and Scandinavia, or Montpellier-Fréjorgues. Public transport, taxi or bus, exists between Agde and Cap d'Agde.

Cap d'Agde is one of the largest leisure ports on the French Mediterranean. Development as a tourist resort started in the 1970s before which time the only buildings at the Cap were small houses typically used for weekends by local people.

The Musée de l'Ephèbe houses the bronze nude statue known as "l'Ephèbe d'Agde" ("the Youth of Agde"). The statue was discovered in the River Hérault and was housed in the Louvre Museum prior to suitable facilities being made available in Cap d'Agde to house it.

Village Naturiste

Cap d'Agde has a large family-style naturist resort.

The Village Naturiste is a large fenced-off part at the north-eastern edge of Cap d'Agde, although it is accessible along the public beach from the east. It is a self-contained town (although sometimes referred to as the "Naked City" [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455090 Internet Movie Database travel video entry] ] ), where nudity is legal and common in the whole resort, including its restaurants and shops, day or night. In the evening, when it gets colder, more people are dressed, sometimes in revealing clothes. A local tourist tax is charged per person, per day.

Village Naturiste is a town by itself, with a 2 km beach, port and marina, campsite, apartment complexes, hotel, shops, restaurants, bars, post office, bank and ATMs, laundrettes, hairdressers, and other such facilities.

A history of naturism at Cap d'Agde

The land adjoining the long sandy beach at Cap d'Agde was owned for many years by the Oltra family who farmed the olive groves behind the sand dunes adjoining the beach. After the Second World War the brothers Oltra noticed that people were coming in increasing numbers to camp on their land, and that many of these people liked to bathe and to sunbathe nude.

The Oltra brothers began to formalise arrangements for campers on their land, and this subsequently led to the creation of the Oltra Club which is a caravanning and camping resort.

The camp grew increasingly popular, especially with young families. German and Dutch tourists were particularly numerous.

In the early 1970s the government of Georges Pompidou drew up plans for the development of the Languedoc-Roussillon coastline. Naturism initially had no part in these proposals, but Rene Oltra, one of the brothers, persuaded the authroities to include plans for a naturist resort at Cap d'Agde.

In 1973 the beach was officially designated as a naturist beach. Regulations for the new resort were also promulgated. The Naturist Village would be a place where voyeurs and exhibitionists would not be welcome.

Early developments

The first developments were at Port Nature and Port Ambonne where flats, shops and pools were constructed. Later, Heliopolis and Port Venus were built and Port Nature was considerably extended. The flats were sold and the owners often let them when they did not require them for their own use. The Naturist Village became a controlled zone during the season with regulated access. Everyone entering was informed of the regulations and required to comply with them.

The 1980's

By the early 1980s, the Naturist Village was reaching the limit of its development. Many shops and commercial premises remained empty, ready for sale or let.

The election of the government of Francois Mitterrand was to herald a cooling off of the French economy which lasted well into the following decade. During this time the Naturist Village continued to prove a popular resort and it developed an easy and pleasant atmosphere. There were so many German visitors that the Post Office even had a designated postbox for letters and poscards being sent to Germany.

The entry of the libertines

By the beginning of the 1990s many of the commercial undertakings were struggling to survive, or had failed altogether. This period saw the beginning of what was to prove an invasion by adherents of the libertine movement. These people, though similar to American or UK swingers, formally claim their origins to the period before and during the French Revolution. Unlike swingers, libertines believe in pure hedonism including exhibitionism. They are more than happy to see and be seen engaging in whatever behaviour they choose. In addition to libertines, many "échangistes", who are closer to US swingers, were also attracted to the Naturist Village.

Several new libertine clubs opened, culminating in 1998 with the opening of the Villa Romaine, a libertine club which includes three bars and a 600 m² (6,500sq ft) undercroft devoted to sexual pleasure. Libertines claimed part of the naturist beach where they wished to despoil themselves in front of others. Many of the shops in the Naturist Village devoted themselves to supporting the newcomers, and started selling provocative clothing and sex aids, most of which are openly displayed in shop windows.

In 2005 the local authority granted planning permission for the owner of a libertine club to demolish the swimming pool in the centre of Heliopolis and to replace it with 65 apartments and a smaller pool all of which is designated as a libertine development, exclusive to couples.

During the winter of 2007-08, there were three fires at libertine clubs including the Villa Romaine which was almost completely destroyed. This was subsequently re-built and re-opened in the summer of 2008. The police described the last two fires as 'suspicious'.

The present position

The Naturist Village has never been affiliated with any formal naturist organisation, national or international. Its rules are over thirty years old and appear to be ignored and there is a charter which has no legal basis. There are rules requiring total nudity as the norm, which ban photography, the wearing of provocative clothing and the display of indecent items. All of these are no longer enforced by the authorities. However, new signs on the beach during the 2008 season warned against lewd behaviour and it is understood that at least two people have been prosecuted for such offences, but these are laws which apply throughout France and are not particular to the Naturist Village. There are now no fewer than six large libertine clubs and many smaller libertine venues in the Naturist Village including shops and bars. There are numerous sex shops which openly display their wares, as well as shops selling fetish items, intimate piercing items etc., all of which are openly displayed by day and by night. The old inclusiveness has largely disappeared along with many genuine naturist tourists. There are fewer German and Dutch tourists than ever and almost no children or young people. The 'Germany only' post box has long since disappeared.

The Naturist Village today is dominated by a vibrant night-life centred around the recreational sex industry through the libertine clubs and venues. Many of these clubs are open at certain times throughout the year. During the season, clubbers gain access to the controlled area by telephoning their car numbers in advance to the clubs who then notify security at the barriers (which are the responsibility of the local authority): they do not sign up to the rules which, in any event and apart from the general law, are not enforced. The clubs claim the privilege of the French law of independent organisations ('le Loi 1 juilet 1901' or Association Loi) and therefore set their own rules and make their own exclusions. Very few people go nude in the evening (and some do not during the day) and by nightfall many openly wear provocative and revealing clothing including chainmail, leather, fishnet and fetishist items.

The Naturist Village creates employment and revenue in a region of France which is economically less affluent than many other areas. It also creates income for the local authority through revenue earned from local property taxes as well as income earned from the controlled entry. Publicity is aimed at drawing both genuine naturists and also libertines without any attempt being made to enforce regulations or to reconcile conflicting interests. It is a place which is very far from the ideals of naturism still espoused in the publicity of the local tourist office, [. [http://www.capdagde.com/documents/cap-d-agde-brochure-naturisme-FR.pdf.] and it is no longer by any means the jewel in the crown of French naturism.

The naturist beach

The naturist beach (where nudity is technically mandatory) has a length of about 2 km and is about 30 m wide. Sand and water are of good quality and between 16 and 20 degrees C. Two security posts feature police and medical facilities. Six restaurants border the southern end of the nude beach. Only one restaurant is available towards the northern end. Even though Cap d'Agde is in France, most of the service staff speak English.

Heliopolis

Heliopolis is the biggest and most prominent feature of Village Naturiste and is a 4-storey round apartment complex with a diameter of approx. 250 m located at the beach. Heliopolis has a shopping area with a supermarket at the ground floor. It has approximately 800 apartment units for 2, 4 and 6 people. [ [http://www.capdagde.de.vu Capdagde.de.vu] ] Built to Le Corbusier principles, the arc-shaped buildings contained an open centre with a swimming pool, tennis courts and play areas. In 2005 the local authority, the Mairie d'Agde, granted planning permission for the construction of a large libertine complex in the centre of Heliopolis which resulted in the destruction of the swimming pool and the open space. In Heliopolis there is also a wifi internet access. More information can be found on the website naturist.de. [ [http://www.naturist.de Naturist.de website] ]

Heliovillage

Heliovillage is located just east of Heliopolis, and contains 125 single houses for families. It is fenced-off from the rest of the resort and only residents have access outside daylight hours.

Port Nature

Port Nature is an L-shaped 3/4-storey block with approximately 600 apartments for 2, 4 and 6 people. It is at the beach, south of Heliopolis, with two commercial areas, one closest to the beach and one in the knick of the L, with bars, restaurants, shops and supermarket. Two swimming pools are south of Port Nature.

Village Nature

Village Nature are duplex houses south of Port Nature, about 120 units for 6 to 8 people each.

Port Venus

Port Venus consists of Port Venus Village, an eight large houses for bigger families, and Port Venus Residence, a five-storey apartment block with about 72 large units. It is at the back of the resort close to Hotel Eve.

Marina

The marina has about 60 places for boats up to 17 m and a little boat yard.

Port Ambonne

Port Ambonne is a semi-circular four-story apartment complex north of the marina and east of Heliopolis. It has approximately 400 apartments, each accommodating a maximum of 4 to 8 people depending on size. There is a commercial section at ground level with shops, bars, restaurants and two sauna spas (one for couples onlyFact|date=October 2007). Port Ambonne also has a bank with ATM, an Internet café and laundrette.

Hotel Ève

Hotel Ève is away from the beach and is the only establishment claiming to be a hotel within the resort.Fact|date=November 2007 It's a three-star, 48-room hotel with its own pool, sauna and roof-top sun terrace. [ [http://www.hoteleve.com/english/navigation.html Hotel Eve website] ]

Le Riad

Le Riad is an exclusive development of 9 Moroccan style villas intended for year-round living within the naturist village. Two of the villas even have their own pools.

Natureva Spa

Natureva Spa is a quality development of apartments and includes a spa cetre with gym and pool.

Les Jardins d'Eve

Les Jardins d'Eve is the first libertine development and is situated in the centre of the Naturist Village. It comprises 65 apartments and offers superior accommodation to libertine couples and echangistes only. It is designed to afford privacy from other developments with the sun terraces and a pool discreetly hidden from those outside the development, even from the surrounding flats of Heliopolis. This design enables all kinds of sexual activity, including oral and penetrative sex, to take place in an open and free environment away from others whom it might offend, and libertines and echangistes are free to engage in such activity without fear of prosecution. It forms part of a complex with the Villa Romaine libertine club, sex shop, bar and restaurant.

Les Jardins du Babylon

Les Jardins du Babylon is a further libertine development which is currently being constructed (fall 2008) and which will also offer quality accommodation to swingers. It is situated adjacent to the camping and caravanning area in the Naturist Village which has been traditionally popular with families.

Camping area

Located at the north of the resort, adjacent to the beach, is a camping area for tents, caravans and motorhomes. The site has a surface of 39 hectares and includes the usual camp facilities such as sanitary blocks and children's play area. The campsite is only open mid-March to mid-October [ [http://www.chm-reneoltra.fr Official campsite website] ]

ee also

* List of social nudity places in Europe#France
* Agde
* Naturism
* Wreck of Rochelongue

References


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