A few years ago I went camping in the south of France.
I was on a touring holiday, my partner and I were driving our car wherever we felt like going – Honfleur, La Rochelle, Bordeaux but we were going off the beaten track as much as possible; veering away from the bigger towns and more well-known areas and finding little villages, gorgeous local cafés, stunning landscapes…
In the evenings we’d find somewhere to camp – it was never a problem as long as we turned up in reasonable time to book, pay and pitch our tent.
One night we were late finding somewhere to stay. We were in a part of France we didn’t know very well and it was a huge relief when the car headlamps picked out a sign for a campsite 15km away. We arrived at about 10.30 pm, we were shattered, it was dark and the guy on the desk was really friendly, took our money, gave us a map and told us where we could pitch up.
We put the tent up in the pitch black with a piddly little torch, it was very quiet and we finally fell into our sleeping bags and slept a deep sleep.
The heat of the morning sun woke us up even though it was early.
We opened the flap of the tent and just lie there dozing, relaxed and enjoying the start of yet another beautiful summer’s day in southwest France. The smell of pine trees was strong; we could hear crickets making that wee-wee-wee noise where they rub their back legs together. When we arrived the night before we’d seen that the camp site was in a pine forest, right next to a beach resort called Le Gurp and we could hear the sound of the waves, there was a light breeze – it was glorious…
Something pink flashed across the front of the tent…
People were starting to wake up on the camp site, we could hear low voices, pans being clanked, the smell of gas as people lit their camping stoves.
Another pink flash in front of the tent doors… it looked like… a person cartwheeling… in the nude – quelle surprise!
I pulled myself up off the floor and out of the sleeping bag, wearing my pyjamas and climbed out of the tent.
All around me were naked people. A lady at the pitch next door was bent over the fire stirring a pot – it was a stirring sight I can tell you.
A man went past naked on a bike – all I could think was, I hope that’s not a rental, imagine if you got that after him?
A group of elderly ladies and gents came by talking animatedly in German, they were carrying tennis rackets and they were in the nude – gives a whole new meaning to the term ball boys.
Of course it was a naturist camping site; we’d been so tired we’d missed that bit when we booked in.
Le Gurp itself was lovely – the beach was fabulous, golden sands and pine trees, half buried bunkers littered along the shore, shallow waters that made it a surfers paradise and famous for its oysters.
The naturist campers were unselfconscious and for the most part getting on a bit – a mix of Dutch, German and French mostly. It was a little disconcerting at first to go into the campsite shop and see so many naked people queuing at the meat counter and I couldn’t bring myself to hire a bike or a pedalo but the bare truth is that for a great all over tan it certainly takes some beating is all I’ll say…