By Regis Duvignau
Montalivet: It’s a long beach of fine white sand, pine forest, traditional markets and naturists.
A stone’s throw away from my office, the Helio-Marin Centre’s,”live better, live naked” slogan is one I have known for a long time. So I decided to adopt Adam’s attire and become a true naturist for the duration of this assignment and melt into the crowd of 14,000 holiday makers at the nudist campsite during the busy summer season. The vacation center’s fences open to a quite “natural” landscape, hiding nothing from the eye either of human beauty or nature’s small faults.
I took up my own challenge to live for several days among naturists, shedding my own clothes along with pre-conceived ideas. I discovered the beach in the morning, naked as the day I was born. I encountered Jean Pierre who played a dance tune on his accordion while standing in the sea. Jean Pierre practices on the beach so as not to annoy vacationers in nearby bungalows with his wrong notes.
Nudity here is natural, not vulgar. Businessmen mix with craftsman in a joyful nakedness that no one seems to notice. No one bats an eyelid when I jump into the pool with a Gopro in my hand to make a series of underwater photos of people taking an aqua gym class. Only the life guard, holding my iPad beside the pool in order to see my images remarked on my “courage” to have so quickly adapted to the dress code.
The Helio-Marin Centre allows all generations to take advantage of naturism. The glance of another is no longer about their clothes. Remarks are no longer directed about the job one holds which can no longer be guessed at. How to distinguish the banker from the carpenter? The hair dresser from the minister? Everyone is alike, or almost.
When Francois, a commercial director, jogged along the beach at sunset, I stopped him and told him how beautiful the image of a fifty-year-old who appeared to walk on water was. He found the idea seductive to show a day in the life at the center. “Tell people that we are not dreamers. Also ask them to come and give living naked a try. Nature will give it back to you.”
What a wonderful experience to get naked for Reuters. I did it!