Naturism has a long history in France. The first French Naturist Association was founded in 1920 and was then followed in 1949 by the first Naturist Vacation Centre located in Gironde. Today, there are over 160 Naturist Associations and 87 Vacation Centres throughout France. These Associations and Centres a perfectly legal and have the support of the French Government through the Ministry of Leisure, Youth and Sport.
There are Centres scattered throughout the country so you should be able to find something to suit your fancy no matter what sort of atmosphere you’re after. A general rating system is in place, which should help you work out which Centre will be a good fit for you and your family.
The most basic ones, which are rated one star, offer bungalows, tents or caravans for hire and little else. At 20 sites or less, these Centres are usually quite small and often very rural in order to ensure guest privacy.
Centres with three stars offer more options in terms of accommodation as well as amenities. In a three-star centre, you can expect to find things like an outdoor swimming pool, a dedicated children’s pool, sauna, archery, volleyball, playground, bar, table tennis and the opportunity to have collective meals. Accommodation wise, you should be able to rent a tent with beds, a caravan or even a proper house. The property is usually larger and there is plenty of opportunity to take part in the usual outdoor activities.
Centres also come in varying sizes so you can adjust the level of community or intimacy as you wish. The very smallest ones are about one hectare so it is much more likely that communal meals and activities will be offered. Larger Centres are around 250 acres and provide privacy if desired along with lots of space to explore the beautiful French countryside.
When planning your holiday, it is important to remember that the vast majority of the Centres are open from May to September or October with some opening as late as 1st July. Areas with a more Mediterranean climate, like the French Riviera and Corsica, tend to be open for a longer period.
"Le guide du Naturisme en France" is an excellent reference tool available from the French Naturism Federation (FFN). It discusses the ethos and history of naturism as well as lists all the Centres that are officially recognized by the FFN.