The Naked City

Modernism and naturism merge into the largest naked city in the world, Cap d’Agde in France, which sees to 40,000 people in summer. Could there ever be a natural metropolis? Cap d’Agde is an interestingly attractive experimental nude urbanism

We were born naked, but no one shows us the way back. It cost you about €8 to gain entrance and walked through the pedestrian gate at Cap d’Agde to a world-famous naturist resort in the south of France. Now what? A front patio stretches out ahead of us. Is there somewhere to change? Yes, the guard at the door will show you He nods in a set of lockers. But carrying your kicks right there through the entrance feels bad. Only one thing for it: do as naturists do, and do for nature. You will need several minutes and a half bottle of sun lotion later, and you will be expected to curl up in your birthday outfit on a Mediterranean beach, English helium-hued on sizzling iron brown cheeks.

The entry procedure is a bit relentless, but beyond it is something unique: a fully functioning city with mainly naked citizenship, which grows to about 40,000 in the summer. Just one day experience and you will happily part of a nude tail in the deli that lines up for taboo and octopus salad, while a gay-gay couple hard bodies on one side of the beef. Since the 90s, Cap d’Agde has gained a weird reputation as a meat market par excellence. The Libertines and swingers of Europe come here to participate in what Michel Houellebecq imagined in his book Atomized as the perfect “sexual social democracy.” But all facets of everyday life in the city are also here: a bank, a post office, and several supermarkets, concrete galleries lined with hairdressers, fishmongers, and opticians and clothing boutiques. Throughout, the fully clothed staff (a formality that apparently developed by itself) caters, with surreal indifference, to the big nudes.

Le Couteur

Le Couteur also has some responsibility. Given the monumental structures that dominate this single square kilometer (the rest of the Cap d’Agde is built along more rustic lines of “neo-languedocienne”), you could dispute how geared to the needs of the flesh-and-blood inhabitants which it really is. His high idealism lacked flexibility: in his zeal for pedestal he pushed the main roads to the edge of the city and did not anticipate the growing number of people who would want to go up to the door; now, the lack of parking space is another headache. Parking and roads are the first on the agenda of Ambition year 2020, a major redevelopment program; it also includes plans to deploy flexible transport options, such as the electric buggies used at the Ultra camp, to the entire village.

This is the common truth of the naked city: it is as dependent as any other venture of its kind. But perhaps its true genius is in the realm of human relationships. If this pendant utopia could be scaled up to the size of the metropolis, it would have a great social leveling effect. It is true that the people have developed their own version of a class division naturists and swingers – but there is more overlap (and sexual relations) between the two clans than the French media portray.

Sitting on the terrace overlooking the sea, throw greetings to some nudes as they pass by on the seafront. Though not emphatically a naturist, I have no doubts that if there were more places like this, the world would be a much better place

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