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Adeline HAVERLAND

Adeline HAVERLAND
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Salon.com
APRIL 16, 2009 4:56PM

“we live naked and we wanted to keep our way of life"

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Investigation :

 

Inside the Parisian naturism community : “we live naked and we wanted to keep our way of life”

naturism in paris


 


 

“ Looking for one person who wants to share a flat with three nudists”. At the beginning of this month, three students: Johan, Laetitia and Sophie, placed this announcement on a couple of web sites.
The three of them are under 25 and they all practice nudism in Paris. Sophie is 23. When she goes out, she is a true fashionista, but in her apartment, she says :“ I want to do whatever I want in my own flat.” But it is more complicated than it sounds as she explains: “It's difficult to practice nudism in Paris. We know it can sound weird but we all live naked and we wanted to keep our way of life” she adds.
Until now, the three have only received five phone calls from people wanting to share this large and spacious apartment located in the 14th district of the French capital. “ two phone calls out of the five we received were jokes” precises Johan, a very serious young man studying in a business school. Laetitia, the third roommate goes further : ”I think most people still do not understand what nudism is. They think we are perverts. One of the guys who called, even asked if living together as a nudist meant that he could have sex with the other roommates.”

A confusion that has still a great resonance in the way Parisians considers nudism as is confirmed by another follower. 50 years old Simone Hennache. She practiced naturism since she was 6 years old, she converted her daughter and her son to do so. But she explains that it is still very complicated for her children to talk about it. “ My daughter is 17, and she still does not want to talk about it with her friends. Most of them do not know she practices naturism. She says that there are still a lot of clichés surrounding this way of life, even for people who practice it. It is sometimes difficult to talk about it” she adds.

 

There are naturist places that are in fact places to practice partner swapping”

According to Joelle Biliat, a journalist working for Vivre Nu, a magazine dedicated to the French nudist community, the confusion between naturism, nudism, sexuality and pornography is a new phenomenon. She says, even if naturism was born in the fifties with the sexual liberation, sexuality and nudity are not associated when one talks about naturism. “naturism is a complete philosophy” she explains. “It's about feeling well in your body, about feeling free, and not taking care of your body appearance anymore”. She says that the word naturism was used for the first time in 1778 and was advocated as a means of improving the 'l’hygiène de vie' (natural style of life) and health. She concludes with the nudism's motto “a sound mind in a sound body” (from the latin “mens sana in corpore sane ).

But in Paris, it is fairly seems pretty difficult to practice naturism as it was originally thought. Simone Hennache explains that she does not do naturism in Paris anymore “ there are some places to do it she says, but most of them use nudism to do things associated with sex”. The places she talks about are often massage parlors. On some naturist web sites, is an ad for “ Nature and Zen” a parlour located in the ninth district of Paris. But when one calls the number indicated on the ad, one might discovers that the place also proposes massages for couples which can easily lead to partner swapping. According to Catherine Moulard who runs a travel agency specialized in nudism travel, it is one of the reasons most naturists do not practice in the capital. “There are too many places, like saunas or parlors which say there are naturist and that are, in fact, places to practice partner swapping”she explains.

The importance of the body disappears”

Does that mean that naturists are refusing sexuality ? Regarding what happens on web site forums, the answer is : not really ! Spending time on the Internet, one might find a lot of comments about how men hide an erection when they are naked or how to keep their nerves down when one is attracted to somebody. But according to Joelle Biliat, those who ask those questions are not real naturists. “ when you're practicing naturism, at one point, the importance of the body disappears, you cannot get aroused just seeing someone naked anymore”.
And when they want to chat someone up, they do not use your body the same way they would have used it if they were “textile”1 confirm all the nudists. 56Years old lawyer Richard Tagliani explains that he met his wife in a nudist camp 25 years ago. “ When I tried to pick her up, I used my brain more than my body. I had to be smart enough to convince her that I was a guy worth spending time with.” Looking at her husband with a broad smile, 44 years old Florence adds, “ when you are nudist all the things that are not related to the body become important. I remember that his look was one of the first thing I was attracted to. When you meet a nudist, you know he can not lie to you”.
Despite this romantic perception of naturism, Richart and Florence, who live in Boulogne, a posh suburbs of Paris, do not practice naturism in the French Capital. “At home, we are quite often naked. During the summer, we spend our days naked in the garden ” says Florence. “But when we are in Paris, we do not go anywhere to practice naturism. It seems to me that in Paris, naturism attracts a lot of weird people who are not there for the right reason. There are a lot of exhibitionists or voyeurs who do not even know what naturism means” adds with a bit of regret Richard.

Naturist community is a sect”

So, to protect themselves against the excesses, the naturist community in Paris acts like a very closed circle. Catherine Moulard goes beyond qualifying the naturist community of the French capital as a “sect”. She arrived four years ago at the head of her travel agency. She explains that back then she did not know anything about nudism and naturism. “ Little by little, people have given me informations. There are so many excesses, that naturists are very suspicious.” “ It is very difficult to get into the circle if you don't know anybody” she adds. And it is especially true in the French capital where the excesses are even more numerous than in other cities. Simone Hennache confirms that she went only twice to naturist places in Paris and it was only because some friends told her about them.

One of the places she went to is the famous swimming pool : Roger Le Gal. Located in the twelth district of Paris, the swimming pool organizes nudist session every night of the week. In Paris, the place is famous in the nudist community, mostly because the Paris nudist association is a partner of the swimming pool. At the entrance, Benoit is about to pay the 2 euro fee, he affirms coming every day. The 28 years old boy likes spending time there :”I have been practicing naturism for 20 years. I was converted by my parents, every summer, they used to go to the Cap d'Age. I have been living in Paris for a couple of years, I have not gotten the chance to go there anymore, so coming at Roger Le Gal it is a bit like swimming naked in the sea.” he precises.

 

A feeling that Florence can understand despite her skepticism about being nudist in Paris . “Two years ago, one of my friend told me about this place. I went there with her. I know Roger le Gal is one of the most reliable place in Paris to practice naturism” she adds.

It is not just about being nude.”

Right now, it is her turn to convert people to naturism. “First of all, you have to explain to people that is not just about being nude, but that is a whole way of thinking” she explains. “ when you talk about naturism, most of them will tell you that they are in favor of organic food, they practice a lot of sport and so on. It is about accepting your body and with your natural environment” when she feels that one of her friends can understand the arguments, little by little she talks about the relationship that she has with her body. “I don't want to force anybody (...) naturism is all about being free, and I respect people who don't feel comfortable being naked. But I have already converted two of my best friends, and even one of my students” says the woman who is professor in a Parisian university.

Fewer and fewer young people are attracted by naturism. According to Catherine Moulard, 80% of nudists are over 50 years old. The typical Parisian nudist is retired, has a fairly high income, and practice nudism as couple. When young people practice naturism is mostly because their parents and someone they know very well also practice it” she explains.

Johan, Laetitia and Sophie confirm this. The three of were introduced to naturism by their parents when they were very young. Sophie does not even remember when she first saw her parents naked. “I feel like I have always been into naturism, I have never seen my parents dressed inside our house in the sixteenth district of Paris.” This statement of facts leads Sophie to conclude : “maybe we should stop looking for another roommate by ourselves, and we should ask our parents to introduce us to one of their naturist friends. I eventually think it will be the only solution to find someone who will be able to understand our way of life”

1Textile is the way naturist call people who are dressed.

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