BN’s friend Laurent Luft of the Association Naturiste de Paris and FFN, tells us of one of his favourite French holiday spots.
The Gard and its surrounds is a region of southern France rich in History, from prehistoric early man who left his mark on the walls of caves, to the Romans who built roads, bridges and aqueducts, to medieval popes who called Avignon home during the 14th Century. Nestled among these World Heritage sites is the valley of the Cèze, with hundreds of hectares classified as a Naturist Reserve. Bordering the River Cèze, there are hiking trails along which one can walk naked for hours with no chance of upsetting a surprised clothed-person. There are also several naturist resorts: the Fereyrolles camping ground, la Genèse naturist resort and the jewel in the crown, the village of la Sablière.
Gaby Cespedès created la Sablière from scratch 40 years ago, along with her late husband. She has become one of the emblematic characters of the French naturist movement and her energy extends way beyond the outskirts of her vast domain. I can’t count the number of times we’ve worked together at stalls promoting naturism at Parisian tourist fairs. Her devotion to the naturist way of life is beyond compare.
I often hear complaints from people who visited a naturist resort where nudity was the exception rather than the rule. At la Sablière, it is rare to see someone in clothes. If you’re trying naturism for the first time, it’s the ideal place, as here one would look more out of place clothed than naked. This well-respected nudity comes from Gaby herself, who is clearly no fan of clothes. She has always set an example that we’re all happy to follow. Even at night at the restaurants, many prefer to remain naked.
La Sablière is built on several levels and each area has its devotees. At the top you’ll find Pinson, with large chalets and sweeping views across the valley. Further down you have the Mésange area, dotted with chalets and also popular with campers, with easy access to the very well-stocked supermarket and the river. On the other side, there is a large selection of mobile homes in the Fauvette area and more camping pitches close to the river. If you’re looking for total calm, where the only noise during the day is that of the cicadas, this is the place for you.
There are many activities on site, all naturist, naturally. There are extensive hiking trails, some very well signposted and others a little more savage. A path leading through the trees takes you on a visit to the ruins of a 12th Century fortress, le Château des Fereyrolles. On the other side of the river, for the more experienced hikers, there is the rock formation nicknamed the Three Arches. Next to the supermarket is a fully equipped gym and further up there are three swimming pools where you can take it easy or join in a session of the very popular water aerobics or yoga. Archery is also very popular and in high season there are cooking classes, pottery, silk painting, body painting, kids club and the immensely popular mud bath every Friday afternoon on the river. Another popular activity on the River Cèze (but mainly with teenagers) is climbing as high up the rocks as possible and jumping into the water.
If you really want to do nothing, buy yourself an inflatable mattress and let the river’s natural flow take you on a journey. From Fauvette all the way down to the main beach of la Genèse, you can forget about life for a few hours, admiring the gorges towering over you.
Every chalet has a functional kitchen but with the crêperie in the pool area, les Trois Arches pizzeria next to the supermarket and the more relaxed hidden gem le Khunu in the Fauvette area, you may be tempted to eat out every day. And don’t forget ice-cream o’clock every afternoon at the Eden Roc bar.
In the surrounding areas, your thirst for history will be quenched, as the region is drowning in it. The Grotte Chauvet (Chauvet Cave) is home to images of animals painted over 30,000 years ago. Le Pont du Gard, a 2000 year old Roman aqueduct bridge, is only 45 minutes away and Avignon is not much further.
A stay at la Sablière is more than a holiday – it’s an unforgettable moment in your life. It has become one of the world’s most iconic naturist resorts and it’s waiting for you.
Tel : 33 (0)4 66 24 51 16