Lonely Planet Writer

'Get nude or get lost'; brawl erupts on French nudist beach

A brawl between clothed teenagers and naked sunbathers erupted on a French nudist beach recently.

Nudism is growing in popularity in France.
Nudism is growing in popularity in France. Image by Gerard Fritz

La Teste-de-Buch in Arcachon in south-western France has a nude zone but among the naked sunbathers, ten teenagers decided to ignore beach etiquette and keep their clothes on. According to numerous eyewitness reports on French media, the fully-clothed youths were staring at the women and acting “provocatively”.

Their behaviour prompted angry reactions from fellow bathers who quickly confronted them, telling them to “get nude or get lost”. The confrontation escalated and ended up with the teenagers exchanging insults and punches with the naturists. There were also reports of sand being flung into eyes. The police were quickly called to restore peace on the beach and some of the aggressors were apprehended.

Staring and aggressive behaviour is a clear breach of traditional nude beach etiquette. The International Naturist Federation also developed a formal code of etiquette prohibiting sexual harassment, unwanted photography and sexual activity.

Shell bay across to Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, UK, Dusk
Shell bay across to Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, UK. Similar warnings are often found on French nudist beach. Image by Peter Lewis

Nude beaches are often found around coastal areas of France, where the first official nude beaches were established in the 1950s. The French Federation of Naturism announced earlier this year the number of naturists in France had increased from 1.5 million to 2 million in the last three years, an increase they attribute to younger people becoming interested in the lifestyle.

Despite the boost of interest in France, Austrians are the nation most comfortable with going naked on the beach, with 76% giving it a thumbs up. According to the survey, you’re least likely to find nude sunbathers in Italy, with 71% saying that they would not enjoy sitting next to nudists on a beach.