I have just returned from my first naturist holiday - in Cap d'Agde - quite a major step as my first visit to a naturist beach was only at the beginning of May at Studland, and although I had done extensive research via the Internet, nothing can prepare you for actually experiencing the real thing.
Here are my thoughts:
I traveled with Peng Travel and stayed in the Heliopolis block. The choice of where you stay is important if you want to keep the noise down - although I wasn't bothered by the various disco's, the Agde Corporation dustcart managed to wake me up at 7.15am every day as it emptied the bins outside the back of the Spar supermarket across the road in Port Nature! Another disadvantage was that my studio was on the 4th floor which meant climbing 64steps to get up there! It has sleeping space for 4 (which would have been a crush) although Peng describe it as a two person studio. For me on my own, it was of an adequate size.
The temperature was around 30C all week and apart from a sea mist on Monday morning was wall to wall sunshine the whole time. The beach is great and 99%naturist, with families, couples and singles all having a great time -particularly the kids who loved building sand castles. I discovered why people use the section of the beach nearest the sea at lunch time when the sun is hottest when I walked over the soft sand at the rear of the beach to put something in a litter bin - yeeowch it was hot on bare feet and I quickly returned to the cooler bit of sand! The one problem with the beach occurred on Tuesday morning after applying suntan lotion rather liberally and it was a windy day. After an hour I had so much sand stuck to me that it was difficult to tell which was me and which was the beach! The pool areas are also 99% naturist, although I only used the Heliopolis pool (the one with THE SLIDE!) and sun loungers are 30FF to hire, and extremely comfortable. I also summoned up the courage to try diving for the first time. I would guess that the shopping areas are probably 50% naturist during the day. Apart from two hours on the Sunday evening, I actually stayed naturist for all of my seven day stay, the longest time in my whole life that I've gone without wearing any clothes.
Andy and Val, the Peng reps in the resort were very kind and helpful and as I was traveling on my own, the various events they organised helped to get their various clients to know one another. Full marks to Peng! And a very friendly bunch they all were too - about thirty of us all told with perhaps half a dozen of us being of the dreaded single male type, although only two of the latter of us joining in with many of the Peng organised events. There have been remarks in u.r.n. recently about Cap d'Agde being a "haven for swingers and exhibitionists". I can honestly say that I didn't see any activity by swingers, and although there were several people there (both male and female) with piercings, no one took any notice of them, apart from the occasional "tut tutting" which strangely enough I heard mostly from the younger element there. The weird and extremely see-through attire worn by the ladies (and some of the men!) in the evening I thought was a rather odd tradition - personally I'm not in favour of it but it didn't particularly bother me. Some of the clubs had rather risque acts (so I'm told - I'm not a clubber) which are not suitable for children. Moral here is that if you're offended by such things (as I am) then just don't go to these clubs! I think it was probably no worse than resorts like Blackpool or Brighton which may have similar clubs (apologies if I've just accidentally offended anyone from Blackpool or Brighton!).
However, by far the vast majority of people there were ordinary naturists, without piercings or tattoos, and of all ages, just out to have a good time in the sun. Cap d'Agde has all facilities such as supermarkets, newsagents, bakers, wine shops, clothes shops, butchers, greengrocers, a bank (incidentally there are now TWO cash points in the resort as Bank Dupuy deParseval in Port Ambonne opened their new one last week) bars, restaurants -and my initial feeling of "I can't believe I'm doing this!" when I first shopped "au naturel" was soon replaced with a "Wow - this is great!" Everyone I spoke to was very friendly and despite being a single male, I wasn't made to feel awkward at all. All the others traveling with Peng were members of one club or another and I was talking to some of them and saying how I'd heard that it was difficult for a single male like me to join a club, only for them to encourage me to try and find one as I'd make so many new friends. So if anyone reading this can recommend a club within reasonable striking distance of North Wales that is happy to accept single males, do please let me know!
The high spot had to be standing on the beach at 11pm on Bastille Day watching a fantastic firework display being let off across in Agde. Lots of "oooh's" and "aaah's" from the crowd!
All in all, I've come home with a lovely all-over tan, I thoroughly enjoyed the Cap d'Agde "experience", and hope to book again for next year - only this time it'll be for two weeks, not one!
Jon (N Wales), April 2000. Update, April 2000. Andy and Val are no longer the Peng reps at Cap d'Agde.
Take 3 friends, get one of them to organise the holiday. Booked - with Sunlovers EMSDALE - Cap d'Agde - apartment for four. Stuff a big rucksack with all the necessaries and unneccessaries. Coach it to the resort.
Tickets arrived for first leg of the coach trip in plenty of time along with other bumff.
Cycled on my Brompton to the coach station. Entered the coach station - past the no entry sign through the coach entrance - erm, exit. Did three laps of the coach-side of the station before worked out where I should have been. Cycled there, dismounted and folded the bike - luggage item no. 2.
Coach started to get filled, walked to the luggage compartment. National Express employee grasped the bike, and threw it at the luggage compartment. The failed basketball player missed. The bike bounced off the edge of the compartment, the bigger piece landing on the ground and the smaller piece shot to the back of the luggage compartment. Good start. The second throw was a little more successful.
Had a reasonable trip to VCS, enjoyed going through London - I still have a strong affection for that place, going past Marks & Spencers and Marks & Spencers and Marks & Spencers on the A41 ish.
Arrived at VCS where the exchange rate is 1 pee for 20p. Fortunately, the Rat and Parrot pub has a far more reasonable exchange rate.
Eventually got on "Kong" - a "coachstop" (?) coach with air conditioning amongst other finaries. Anyway, I found I can't sleep in a fridge, so kept the driver company for most of the journey down. The Dover-Calais ferry crossing went quickly - in the rain. The rain continued to just before we turned right at the bottom of France. Arrived at the Naturist Quarter at the cape in mild sunshine. We got unloaded and a free breakfast ticket at Johnny Wokkers which was exchanged for a bowl of cereal and milk + a slice of toast. We opted additionally for the cooked breakfast - i.e. egg and bacon !
Emsdale could do a little better in the organising people front here. We arrived a bit late and clueless as to where JW's was. We found it just before they shut. I think the first person I spoke to there was this chap who said "OOH, a Brompton." I said, "I'll talk to you later".
We had an apartment in Heliopolis - unusual for Emsdale folk, I think. Having had nothing to compare it with, it was reasonably nice. Having talked to other people, it turned out to be positively luxurious ! Apparently, the microwave and satellite tv aren't the norm ! The apartment was decidedly adequately clean although judging by some of the glasses in it, they'd not been used for ages. We never had power cuts nor ran out of hot water. Generally we couldn't fault the accommodation. I'd heard it used to be quite a bit worse. The bidet had been removed at some point, but that didn't bother me as the shower was functional. The apartment has a garage but not included for us.
It seems the outdoor swiming pools are unheated. At this time of year, they're not particularly warm, and that includes the Med. I used my standard temperature trick before entering the pool. I cool myself off first using the shower. I get as cold as I can be patient for then enter the pool - which then feels nice and warm !
The sand on the beach is as nice as at Haverigg although possibly more of that sort since the Med doesn't appear to be particularly tidal. Haverigg is tidal and when it's out, there's several miles of wet sand to cross before reaching the sea ! Makes a good flat footie area though !
I can't say much about the food as I'm no expert. I do seem to have managed to lose weight but certainly didn't try, or didn't feel hungry. WE quickly developed a two-course breakfast - cereal followed by a proper fry-up. That seemed to last us until the evening although the odd biscuit nibbled through the day helped. In the evening, we generally had cold food, salady in nature. Most of our purchases were from the on-site Spar but there were other foodie shops too - and I bet there were more of them in places we didn't look, but all within the Naturist Quarter. There's several pizza places dotted about as well as "restaurants". On our last day, we sampled the food at one of these - the Calypso. I opted for the steak n chips. Size wise, the meal was ok (possibly big for many people). The "chips" were of the french fries variety. The "well done" steak was raw. Well, in places.
The 2 big things that I didn't like about the place were the horror stories of things being stolen - bicycles, caravans as well as generally other things. There were also stories of people being stalked at night time. Security is tight - they don't let you in to the naturist quarter unless you have a pass-card, or a car, or you walk in via along the beach ! The other big thing I don't like about the place which also relates to the people rather than the venue, is that they go OTT with photography. I was told on leaving that the local police had been notified about me taking photos. I don't know what the law is re photo-taking in France, but it can't be that silly as I'm sure other holidaymakers take photos without hassle. It would seem these venues are attended by a lot of shy people - some of which are falsely claiming to be naturists. This maybe explains the general disregard for "nudite obligitaire" type signs on the beach and in the pools. As for evening time, 98% of the people wore clothes. Perhaps this is a case of too much clothing optional and not enough enforcement.
The clothing worn was "whatever you want" - you name it, it was there - some of it many would rate on the extremely kinky side. The place is quite liberal - bits of allsorts going on so if rick goes with his Little Treasures, he'd need to be ready with quite a few explanations if they were allowed to go walk-about.
On the second day, I met this fella with the Brompton again and we organised a "date" to go for a ride on our Bromptons. On the Tuesday, we met earlier in the day and had a natter relating to our "date" later in the day. The "Net" cropped up in conversation which is how I found out I was talking to Andyron !!!!! So how's about that folks - almost met off the bus by a fellow URNer ! We went on our "date" to Agde, him with the map and been there before on the bike - trying to get us lost. I got my own back on the return journey by following a cycle lane - took us to the textile quarter ! While in Agde, we found a cyber cafe called Globe Trotter - but then, you should know that anyway !
Apart from the odd game of boules, pool and "mini golf" (on site), conversation with Andyron in Johnny Wokkers and other places enhanced my enjoyment of the stay. I'd like to know how long it takes to do the whole of that mini-golf course - for those that don't know it, it's crazy golf. There's two or three holes which are pretty much impossible. So, if anyone's completed it properly, how long did it take ? I at least managed two holes in one on the course ! The lad that was with us managed to get the ball over one tricky bit on hole 7. Shame he was playing hole 6 at the time.
I enjoyed the stay there but found it a little weird at night as much of it had a ghost-town feel to it - places open but no customers in them in the evening. I guess it's the fact I was there "out of season" which was just starting as we left. I had noticed that the week got busier towards the end. I have my suspicions that its going to be quite hectic in season.
Emsdale had organised a shopping trip to Agde - which I don't know really how I feel about it as I like to support the on-site shops even if they are a bit dearer generally. At least they're there and quite pleasant. Getting used to them shutting between 1pm and 4pm was a little odd though. But they'd stop open until 8 pm I think. At least their crisps have salt in them !
I suppose I should say something about the weather. Cold - with a hot sun. It was ok for us Brits, but I got a distinct impression it was tame for that area. I've certainly sweated more in Cumbria than France ! I know that Monserrattans find the British kind of heat hotter than their home.
I suspect this is long enough already, but if there are any questions, just ask !
pmailkeey , June 2000.
First of all lots of thanks to all past and present URNers for the useful preparatory information and commentaries - all very helpful stuff. It feels a bit superfluous to do a Cap D'Agde trip report when there are so many available, so I'll be brief and try to build on others' comments rather than do a blow-by-blow account (no sniggers in the back there).
Yes it's a concrete jungle but no that didn't matter after the first shock of the scale of it all. Probably because the beach is just superb and from there the huge apartment blocks (which reminded me of my 7 years working on the inner-London estates of Peckham and Bermondsey) don't look so bad. The group of 18 was actually six separate families / couples / singles who had all chosen to overlap our holidays, so we didn't move around in a great clump. And anyway, once you take away 7 teenagers and two small kids it doesn't sound so many.
We fell into a routine pretty quickly of creating a camp on the beach to which everybody would drift during the morning. Young Jonathon dug us our trench first thing, both to "mark our territory" and to keep maverick waves off our towels. Once a few had arrived then a couple of us would set of on the full beach walk from the jetty well into the textile bit. And why not? Pairs of nervous-looking textiles wandered onto our bit every day just to cop an eyeful, so why shouldn't we go and look at the pervy-types with clothes on? Guys who had been before and who normally turned back at the end of the naturist beach or soon after, wanted to do the walk with me so we could go further (I told you not to snigger at the back there!), as they were less "threatening" when accompanied by a female and/or children into the textile bit. I think we got some converts!
Although we all had reasonable tans (see Kev's Studland picture on NUFF to check my pre-Agde tan) we mostly went indoors at lunchtime to avoid the hottest hour, to get rid of the sand wedged in our most inaccessible bits, to fill up drinks bottles, etc., etc. The beach-nuts returned to the same spot in the afternoons, others de-camped to the Heliopolis pool with the flumes for the afternoon. There was also a lovely harbour walk from the beach round to the Peng office which made a change from either the beach or the shopping areas (another textile resort is visible nearby on the other side but there were not too many meerkats).
Evenings were interesting! Very interesting! Most of us were in Port Nature which is where the evening entertainment was more ...... shall we say ...... cosmopolitan. The main club under the Waikiki is now re-named Cleopatra's and is wholly gay, apparently since the beginning of this season. Fetish High Street was enormous fun, best on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, when most of the shops and restaurants along the south-east of Port Nature had what they called "sexy shows" with professionals and amateurs modelling "sexy clothes" including interesting fetish gear! The really bizarre thing was for us to walk naked past groups in restaurants wearing nothing but strips of metal or cling-film trousers with the bum hanging out, and have THEM stare and point at US! Everything previous posters have said about most people dressing in the evening is true, but because of the size of our group we had the confidence to stay naked (or topless) and the mass to persuade some others to join in. I think that the reason the culture changes so much at night is because of the large numbers who come in from outside for the evenings. They seem to start arriving at about 6pm and hanging around the beach cafes to watch naturists coming off the beach. Then these outsiders go to the bars and restaurants advertising "sexy shows". There are so many of them that they do have a major impact on the feel of the place. But once we recognised that we would be stared at we accepted that as the price to be paid for us getting the 24/7 naked holiday we'd promised ourselves.
And we all went a bit further than we had planned (OK now you can snigger). I think I have said in other threads that I wouldn't want to (a) disco naked or (b) do slow dancing naked, on the grounds that (a) involves too much jiggling flesh and (b) involves too much physical contact (shock horror). But meals organised by Peng at La Palmerie evolved very naturally into moving from the restaurant part into the pool bar section followed by moving into the disco / live music section. Five of us discoed naked twice each week, influencing what was played, and drawing a lot of attention from externals lined up outside the windows. After getting overheated we could leap into the pool, clean off the sweat, towel down and get straight back onto the dance floor. OK the 3 women mostly had sarongs on our lower halves (other than when running through the bar to the pool) but - ridiculously, given where we were - even naked breasts drew enormous attention. But it didn't feel oppressive, and dancing naked felt perfectly natural. Oh and the bar takings went up! And one of our number entered the amateur male strip contest and dragged me up onstage. Fortunately I had posted my Mum's postcard that morning so didn't have to find ways of NOT telling her about participating in simulated sex on a public stage .......
The only other thing to report is about the Peng reps. As always they were superb, as were all the Peng-organised events. Brian had only started in early July to cover for the two who left suddenly earlier in the season but because he had previous experience with Peng in Cap D'Agde he knew the scene plus he had all the natural social skills needed for the job. Sadly he is only there till mid-August (he stepped in at very short notice to cover, so was not available for the whole summer). Lovely French chap called Dominique was the other rep, absolutely super but clearly worried about what would happen when Brian left mid-season, and in the end he unfortunately left very suddenly on our middle weekend. He was replaced at the end of the week by a friend of Peter Englert's who flew out to cover, but it has left a mild tone of uncertainty, plus several organised events had to be cancelled due to shortage of staff. To misquote Oscar Wilde: "To lose two reps in a month might be considered a misfortune, but to lose three .....!" And of course last year's reps, Andy and Val, were subtly recruiting customers in the background, hoping that Peng customers and/or Sunlovers Emsdale customers would convert to them for next year. They are apparently pitching slightly up-market, with guaranteed better apartments and more nice restaurants and vineyard trips etc. And presumably more expensive. But I'm going again with Peng next year (as long as there are some reps!) - they have the infrastructure, they sorted minor and major problems efficiently and rapidly (one flat even needed a whole new fridge, and got it on Monday morning), and who needs a posher flat when you spend all day on the beach?
So who wants to come to Cap D'Agde for a URN week in July 2001?
Tamara :~) VERY brown, VERY happy, and VERY going back next year!
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