France is a paradise for many different reasons. Food lovers and wine enthusiasts definitely know what we’re talking about, but also those who prefer to travel with as little clothes as possible know that France is still a top naturist destination in the world.
If we wanted to write a guide about all naturist options in the country, we would end up with a pill of probably more than a thousand pages. Since we’re not Tolstoy, we decided to create different guides per region.
In this guide, we will discover Occitanie, home to the famous naturist villages Cap d’Agde and Leucate and to numerous wonderful nude beaches, naturist campings and B&Bs.
Welcome to Occitanie!
- Best time to visit Occitanie
- Naturist villages in Occitanie
- Nude beaches in Occitanie
- Naturist resorts in Occitanie
- Naturist resorts in the Gard region
- Naturist resorts in the Lozère region
- Naturist resorts in the Aveyron region
- Naturist resorts in the Hérault region
- Naturist resorts in the Lot region
- Naturist resorts in the Tarn-et-Garonne region
- Naturist resorts in the Tarn region
- Naturist resorts in the Gers region
- Naturist resorts in the Hautes-Pyrénées region
- Naturist resorts in the Haute-Garonne region
- Naturist resorts in the Ariège region
- Naturist resorts in the Aude region
- Naturist resorts in the Pyrénées-Orientales region
- What, where and when to eat in France
- Getting to Occitanie and around
- Visa regulations
- Staying Safe
- Say What?
Best time to visit Occitanie
Being in the south of France, Occitanie gets the best weather and the majority of its visitors in the European summer months. Half of June until half of September is often considered high season and its peak comes between half of July and half of August when many of the French and the surrounding countries have their holidays.
Needless to say that during high season the accommodation prices skyrocket and many of the naturist resorts (especially the rental accommodation) gets fully booked way in advance.
May, June, September and October are also nice months to visit Occitanie, especially for those who prefer their naturist vacations to be relaxed and quiet and who don’t like the big masses. During these months, the weather can be quite unpredictable, but yet it’s often good enough to spend at least a couple of hours a day in the nude.
If you’re planning to visit the Aude region, it’s also important to know that this is one of France’s windiest departments. In the north-west blows the Tramontane, a dry ground wind which makes the temperatures drop a couple of degrees, especially early and late in the season. In the south-east are the Marin winds, which come from over the sea and tend to be hot and wet. For some, these winds are a blessing. Surfers for example.
Naturist villages in Occitanie
The world only counts a handful of so-called “naturist villages” and two of these can be found in France’s Occitanie region: Cap d’Agde and Leucate. This alone could be a reason for you to give this wonderful French region a try. But let us explain first what a naturist village really is.
To begin with, there is a common misunderstanding that naturist villages are official villages. If the condition for being called a “village” is that it has a designated postal code, naturist villages are non-existing. There is not a single village in the world that does have a postal code and which allows nudity everywhere. We could discuss faraway tribes in the jungle of Papua or the Amazon where people tend to spend most of their days pretty much completely naked, but we doubt that those people call themselves naturists. Or that the mailman ever gets there.
Another important thing to take into account is that “naturist village” is not a patented term. A 5-pitch club camping can call itself a naturist village if it would wish to do so.
This being said, our personal definition of the term naturist village is that it has the look and feel of a real village. That it has streets and shops and restaurants and garbage being picked up twice a week and that people are actually living there. And of course, that nudity is allowed everywhere. From that point of view, our initial point that there are two naturist villages in Occitanie still stands.
Naturist Village Cap d’Agde
If there’s one legendary and mythical naturist place around the world, it must be Cap d’Agde. For many aspiring naturists, this place is their first introduction to social nudity and for many others, Cap d’Agde is number one on their bucket list.
When former French president Georges Pompidou made plans in the early seventies to develop the Languedoc-Roussillon coastline, Paul René Oltra from the Oltra family who currently still owns the René Oltra naturist camping in Cap d’Agde was able to convince the authorities to include a naturist section in the plans. Cap d’Agde Naturist Village was born.
Today, the naturist village is a fenced off neighborhood of the town Cap d’Agde. It has all the amenities of a real village, including hotels, shops, a postal office, restaurants, and so on. What makes Cap d’Agde look less than a true village is, of course, the entrance fee that has to be paid to get behind the fence.
Over the years, Cap d’Agde didn’t only attract naturists from all over the world but also lots of swingers and libertines. Local businesses noticed the potential market and Cap d’Agde moved more and more away from traditional naturism and onto other types of social nudity. When you visit Cap d’Agde today, one of the first things you will notice are huge billboards announcing swingers parties and sex clubs.
The René Oltra camping is still considered one of the few “true” naturist spots in Cap d’Agde and also the beach in front of the camping is family-friendly. Once you walk further down the beach or dive into the nightlife, it becomes a whole other world.
In the “naturist resorts” section of this guide, we mentioned the René Oltra camping as well as several other hotels. Because of the huge amount of private property in Cap d’Agde, it’s also possible to rent private apartments and villas through Airbnb and Booking.com. When booking your accommodation online, do make sure that it’s actually located inside the naturist village and not somewhere else in town.
Naturist Village Leucate
The other famous naturist village in Occitanie can be found in the Aude region, at not much more than a stone’s throw from the Spanish border. The naturist village of Port Leucate lays on a peninsula of the town. It’s accessible via a bridge on both the north and the south side and the general rule is that as soon as you cross the bridge, clothes are no longer a necessity.
Leucate is quite different from its bigger brother up north on several aspects. First of all, it’s smaller in size, doesn’t attract the tens of thousands of daily visitors in high season like Cap d’Agde does and is significantly less focused on other types of social nudity than naturism.
Another difference is that the naturist village basically consists of three large holiday complexes: Aphrodite, Ulysse and Oasis. Most of the activities, shops and restaurants are also inside these complexes, which might make Leucate less interesting for day visitors for whom there’s little more than the nude beach, the beach bar and a pizza place.
Nevertheless, Leucate can still be considered a naturist village since also the streets on the peninsula are nude friendly. And there is no gate, nor an entrance fee, which might make it actually feel more like a village and less like a resort than Cap d’Agde.
Nude beaches in Occitanie
Nude beaches in the Gard region
Espiguette Beach is located south of Port-Camargue and Grau du Roi. It is the wildest beach in the Gard and it stretches for nearly 18 km towards the beaches of Saintes Maries de la Mer. There is paid parking (6€ per day). If you like to use the free parking instead, it’s quite a long walk to the nude beach.
Nude beaches in the Hérault region
Maguelone nude beach is located between Palavas les Flots and Frontignan. This large sandy and pebble beach stretches for approximately 8 km between the Mediterranean and the ponds of Pierre Blanche and Prévost. Coming from Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone, you follow the direction of the cathedral then you will find a parking lot before a footbridge.
The Aresquiers beach in Frontignan is the easternmost beach of the seaside resort. This beach is also in the town of Vic-la-Gardiole. The northern part is wilder and there are areas reserved for naturists.
On the edge of Marseillan and Cap d’Agde, there is Bagnas beach on the edge of a nature reserve. Fine sand and a peaceful environment without direct construction make for a very pleasant setting. Because the Cap d’Agde beach is only 400 meters down south, Bagnas beach tends to also run full during high season.
This is the world’s most (in)famous nude beach and probably doesn’t need an introduction. Important to know is that the beach has several unofficial segments. The part right in front of camping René Oltra is considered a “true” naturist beach and family friendly. Once you pass by the beach bar in the direction to Marseillan it’s very common to encounter sexual activity. To enter the nude beach, entrance fee has to be paid at the entrance of the naturist village. This can be avoided by parking at Marseillan and then walk south.
Another famous nude beach in the region, just south of Cap d’Agde is the beach of Sérignan, which is right in front of naturist camping Sérignan Plage Nature. This sandy nude beach can be accessed directly from the camping, but there are also several free parkings nearby for those only spending the day at the beach.
Nude beaches in the Aude region
The naturist beach of Fleury d’Aude can be found in St. Pierre-la-Mer between the Pissevaches lake and the Grau de Vendres. The beach is totally wild and used to be more popular when the nearby camping was naturist as well.
The Vieille Nouvelle nude beach in Gruissan (also called “Salines beach”) is the wildest beach in this small seaside resort. Little known and uncrowded, it is especially appreciated by kitesurfers on tramontane days. This place is said to be the most windy spot in the Mediterranean.
The Plage de Mateille nude beach in Gruissan is bordered to the west by the entrance to the port, to the east by Ayguades beach and to the north by Mateille pond with its nautical base where you can go windsurfing sailing. It is a 1.2 km stretch of sandy beach with only one lifeguard station at the west side.
The Montilles beach in Port-la-Nouvelle (also called “south beach” or “Côte Vermeille beach”) is a totally wild beach which extends from Place Paul Gauguin up to the Plage des Leucate cushions. This beach is not monitored. There are two areas. The naturist beach is located south of Port-la-Nouvelle.
Another one of the most famous beaches in southern France. The 1km nude beach of Leucate is located right inside the naturist village and is designated for naturists only. There is a lifeguard and a beach bar on Leucate nude beach.
Nude beaches in the Pyrénées-Orientales region
The southern beach of Torreilles stretches for several hundred meters towards Sainte-Marie until the mouth of Bourdigoul . This sandy beach is divided into two areas by an aid station. The right part is reserved for naturists while the left part is textile. It’s said that this is one of the most beautiful wild beaches in southern France.
The Sainte-Marie North Beach (also called “Camping Municipal Beach”) is located north of the town. The beach stretches from avenue des Dunes to Torreilles beach. The area closest to the pool is monitored during the summer. 200 meters past the campsite, the beach becomes naturist.
This beach is located in the commune of Elne and stretches for around 700 meters between the southern beaches of Saint-Cyprien and the northern beach of Argelès. It’s a large and sandy beach, separated into two zones. The part on the left of the aid station is textile. The part on the right is exclusively naturist.
The beach of Taillelauque de Banyuls sur Mer is located at Cap l’Abeille in the Cerbère-Banyuls marine nature reserve near Cap de la Vella. It is the only cove easily accessible in the area. Although not officially naturist, it’s often visited by nude sunbathers.
At Cap d’Ona de Banyuls sur Mer, between the beaches of the city center and Elmes, there are several small pebble coves. Signs indicate that access is forbidden, but some of the coves are frequented by naturists. Be careful, it can be quite dangerous to get into the coves.
Naturist resorts in Occitanie
Naturist resorts in the Gard region
This large hill-side naturist domain is one of the most popular campings of the Occitanie region. The highlights of Domaine de la Sablière are three swimming pools, river access, a variety in sports facilities, daily entertainment for adults and children and three restaurants. Camping spots and rental mobile homes are available all over the domain, some with excellent views and others very near to the river.
On the other side of the Cèze river, you can find another naturist camping paradise called La Genèse. This camping is completely located inside the river valley, which makes most of the domain agreeably flat. There is direct access to the river as well as a large pool, several sports facilities and lots of entertainment options. The camping has a restaurant and bar. Rental accommodations come in the form of safari tents and mobile homes.
This naturist guesthouse is one of a kind. Not only does it contain Europe’s largest naturist domain, but it’s also Europe’s most luxurious nude accommodation. Guests can enjoy a large swimming pool and jacuzzi. Breakfast is included and other meals can be prepared on request. The wonderful domain is excellent for nude hiking and relaxing in nature.
A very small naturist camping which is part of the local naturist club of Nîmes. This camping has little to no facilities, has no rental accommodations and doesn’t allow caravans or RVs.
A small naturist guesthouse in the Gard region. Accommodation is available in double rooms with flatscreen TV and airco. Breakfast is included in the room price, other meals are available on request. Guests can enjoy the jacuzzi and terrace. Massage service is available on request.
Naturist resorts in the Lozère region
A small naturist camping with only 35 pitches, but on a 40ha domain. It’s easy to see that this is a great place for nature lovers. Guests can enjoy the swimming pool, sauna, petanque court and children’s playground. Meals can be prepared on request. Rental accommodation is available in the form of gites and studios.
Naturist resorts in the Aveyron region
A 87 pitch naturist camping in the mids of 156 hectares of unspoiled nature with woods, mountains and meadows which can all be explored in the nude. le Pas de Ceilhes also has a pool and petanque court, but most guests come to relax and enjoy nature. There is no rental accommodation available.
Naturist resorts in the Hérault region
A small naturist camping with large pitches and several rental accommodations in the form of chalets and mobile homes. Guests can enjoy the large swimming pool, a children’s playground and several sports facilities. The domain has 30km of hiking trails which can be fully enjoyed in the nude.
A naturist camping nestled on a hillside at the banks fo lake Salagou. The domain has a swimming pool, children’s playground, sports facilities and 80 hectares of a natural domain which can be explored naked. Communal dinners, tastings and entertainment are regularly organized. Other than camping pitches there are also rental mobile homes and bungalows available.
Le Jardin de Gretuvs offers a small campsite on a 4-hectare domain in a familiar atmosphere. The domain has a small refreshment pool. This place is perfect for those seeking peace and quiet. Spa service and meals are available on request. There is one rental accommodation in the form of an Irish wagon.
This naturist camping is situated next to the Herault river and has its own private beach. Guests can enjoy a large swimming pool, several sports facilities and a camping restaurant. The river is great for swimming, kayaking or sunbathing. Other than camping pitches there are several mobile homes for rent.
This wonderful guesthouse is technically not a 100% naturist destination although they are naturist friendly. The several holiday houses on the domain are well secluded and the largest of both swimming pools is naturist-only. The domain also has a spa and sauna. Meals can be arranged for the guests and it’s possible to rent the complete guesthouse.
Possibly the world’s most famous naturist camping in the world’s most famous naturist destination. René Oltra is located inside the Cap d’Agde naturist village and has direct access to the nude beach. It’s impossible to list all the facilities on this huge camping. Other than camping pitches, René Oltra also has a range of rental chalets, mobile homes and luxury cabins.
Hotel Eve provides luxury accommodations inside Cap d’Agde naturist village. The hotel has several different suites and apartments which all come with flatscreen TV, minibar and free wifi access. The hotel provides a swimming pool and a range of spa services. The nude beach is only a short walk away.
Another popular nude hotel in the Cap d’Agde naturist village is Oz-inn. There is a choice between 4 different types of luxury rooms and suites which all have a flatscreen TV, minibar and free wifi access. Guests have access to the spa, the restaurant and the large rooftop terrace. There are regular animations during high season.
Port Soleil is one of the most popular apartment complexes within the Cap d’Agde naturist village. Many of the apartments are for rent during the summer months. Port Soleil has its own swimming pool. The apartments are fully equipped and have TV and free wifi.
Le Sérignan Plage Nature is part of the France4Naturisme group, which stands for top quality naturist campings. This is the only camping of the group which has direct access to the nude beach. Other highlights are a huge spa and wellness complex, a very modern outdoor pool, two restaurants and lots of sports facilities. There are camping pitches as well as a large variety of rental accommodations such as safari tents and mobile homes.
Located in the heart of Béziers, guesthouse Les Orpellières has three rooms for naturists. There is a heated swimming pool, sauna and a large terrace and relax area for the guests. The nude beach of Sérignan Plage is only a short ride away.
A small family naturist camping located inside the Haut Languedoc regional park. The main focus of this camping is on nature, rest and tranquility. Guests can enjoy the swimming pool and 6 hectares of natural domain. Other than camping pitches, there are several bungalows and mobile homes for rent.
Naturist resorts in the Lot region
Les Grands Chênes is a small family naturist camping in the northern Lot region, where the complete focus is set on relaxation. There is a swimming pool and a children’s playground. Communal barbecues are often organized in summer. There are several camping pitches and rental chalets for the guests.
Another natural naturist camping can be found in the Périgord Quercy region and is called Le Champ de Guiral. The camping provides a swimming pool to the guests as well as a restaurant with local products. Other than large camping pitches, there are several campers, mobile homes and tents available for rent.
A top naturist destination in the Lot region is definitely Le Clos Barrat. For a couple of years under new, dedicated management and currently flourishing. Le Clos Barrat has a large swimming pool, several sports facilities and a children’s playground. Activities like communal dinners, quizzes and others are organized on a regular basis. Le Clos Barrat has different camping areas, some close to the bar and others further in the woods for more privacy. There are also 4 brand new rental mobile homes and 2 guest rooms.
Naturist camping Lalbrade is located in the regional parc of Causses du Quercy. The 78-hectare domain is part of a vast expanse of unspoiled nature with oak trees and maple woods. There are 20 kilometers of marked trails that are excellent for nude walks. Guests can also enjoy a large swimming pool. Other than camping pitches, there are several rental chalets available.
Naturist resorts in the Tarn-et-Garonne region
A cozy naturist camping with spacious camping spots. Guests of Le Mérou can enjoy a large swimming pool, a brand new sauna, a children’s playground and a restaurant. Activities are often organized. Rental accommodation is available in different types of safari tents and in the “cabane” holiday home.
Naturist camping Les Manoques is located on top of a hill, with excellent views of the surrounding area. Especially from the swimming pool. Other facilities include several sports options, a children’s playground and a snack bar. There’s a separate spa area with sauna and jacuzzi. Massage services can be arranged on request. Other than camping pitches there are several chalets and mobile homes for rent. and Natural is adults and couples only. But it’s possible to rent the whole property with a family.
Naturist resorts in the Tarn region
La Couliche is the small camping at the grounds of the naturist club of Albigeois. This is a wild naturist camping without a swimming pool or wifi. There are hot showers, a petanque court and lots of nature. Club activities are regularly organized. There is no rental accommodation available.
Domaine de La Sesquière is located right outside the town Vieux. The camping has been set up to be completely integrated with nature. Facilities include a swimming pool, several sports options and a restaurant and bar. There are 50 large camping pitches and several rental caravans.
This 14-hectare naturist camping is located within a forest in the green Quercy region. There is a large swimming pool and several sports options. Activities are often organized both for adults and for children. There is a variety in camping pitches as well as rental cottages, caravans and tents.
Naturist resorts in the Gers region
This 20-hectare family naturist camping in the heart of the south-west provides its guests with an adult swimming pool and two small pools for the children and a large natural lake. There are several sports activities and entertainment is organized for young and less young. There is a variety in camping pitches as well as rental mobile homes and tents.
A large natural naturist domain of about 26 hectares of which less than half is dedicated for camping. The resort has a swimming pool and a small shop. Camping pitches are surrounded by nature and rental accommodations are available in the form of mobile homes, campers and tents.
A small camping on the grounds of an authentic biological farm. The perfect place to escape the busy world and move into nature. The camping has few facilities and only has about 6 camping pitches.
Naturist resorts in the Hautes-Pyrénées region
This small naturist guesthouse at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains is the perfect spot to explore the amazing surrounding nature while having to opportunity to spend the rest of your vacation without clothes. The guesthouse has several large equipped studios, a big terrace and a swimming pool.
L’Eglantière is at the end of France and the start of Spain, right near the majestic Pyrenees mountains. The influences of both countries trickle through into the camping and its restaurant. Guests particularly enjoy the large pool, the river and the many nude hiking options. There are daily activities for adults and children and great evening entertainment. Other than camping pitches, rental accommodations are available in the form of cabins near the river.
Naturist resorts in the Haute-Garonne region
A four-star naturist camping in the heart of Le Lauragais, near the cities of Toulouse and Carcassonne. The campsite is spread over a 6-hectare area which is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, sauna, restaurant and several sports facilities. Other than camping pitches, there are several mobile homes, tents and a chalet for rent./div>
This three apartment guesthouse for naturists is located at about an hour from Toulouse or the Pyrenees mountains. Guests can enjoy the swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi. Meals and massage services are available on request.
The Maillevant naturist guesthouse can be found within a 23-hectare nature park near the Pyrenees mountains. There are several fully furnished apartments and gites on the property for the guests. Maillelevant also provides a large swimming pool and several spa options. This place is adults only.
Naturist resorts in the Ariège region
The only naturist camping in the Ariège region provides 40 leveled camping pitches and several rental caravans in the mids of southern French nature. Guests can enjoy the sauna and some minor sports options. As of 2020, Millefleurs will have a brand new swimming pool.
Naturist resorts in the Aude region
This is the local naturist club of the Audois – Carcassonne region. The club domain has a small number of camping spots for visitors. Other than a sauna, the guests mostly enjoy the surrounding nature and friendly atmosphere. Activities are sometimes organized.
This small relaxed camping is mostly chosen for its abundance of natural space and wonderful views. Guests can also enjoy the large swimming pool and meals are available on request. For those who prefer not to camp are several luxurious gites available. Peace and quietness are the keywords at Les Armengauds and therefor it’s adults (16+) only.
Le Clapotis is the most popular naturist camping in the Aude region and very close by the Leucate naturist village (15-minute drive). From the camping, you have amazing views over the lake. Le Clapotis has a large pool, a variety of sports options, a shop and a restaurant. It’s possible to kite-surf directly from the camping. Other than camping pitches, there are several rental mobile homes.
This is one of the three holiday complexes inside the naturist village of Leucate. Résidence Aphrodite provides equipped 585 apartments and villas. Inside the complex are two swimming pools, several sports options, shops and restaurants. The complex is on walking distance to the nude beach and the harbor.
This is one of the three holiday complexes inside the naturist village of Leucate. Résidence Ulysse provides equipped 150 apartments and a camping area. Inside the complex is a swimming pool, several sports options, shops, a restaurant and a bar. The complex is on walking distance to the nude beach and the harbor.
This is one of the three holiday complexes inside the naturist village of Leucate. Résidence Ulysse provides 5 types of fully equipped apartments of which some have sea-view. Inside the complex is a swimming pool, several sports options, shops, restaurants and bars. The complex is on walking distance to the nude beach and the harbor.
Naturist resorts in the Pyrénées-Orientales region
On a 10 hectare domain in the middle of forests, guests of Mas Can Prim have the chance to rent two fully equipped luxurious gites/apartments. Guests can enjoy a small pool and meals are available on request. To preserve the rest of everyone, guests have to be 15+.
Entre Mar Y muntanya features naturist accommodation with a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a shared kitchen. Guests can also enjoy the jacuzzi, sauna and sun terrace. Each room is fitted with air conditioning, private bathroom and a kitchen including a microwave, fridge, oven and a stovetop.
Naturist domain La Clapère features about 50 hectares of well-preserved nature where the guests can spend their holidays in harmony with the surroundings. The domain has a large swimming pool, several sports options, lots of activities for children and adults and a bar and restaurant. Plenty of camping pitches are available as well as rental mobile homes.
Mas de la Balma is one of the smaller naturist resorts in the region but does provide a large natural environment with forests and rivers. The camping provides two natural pools for the guests as well as lots of nude hiking trails. There’s also a restaurant, shop and bar. Guests can stay at one of the 50 spacious camping pitches or in one of the rental mobile homes.
This small family run naturist campsite was the first one in the region and provides its guests with a swimming pool and several sports options. Guests can stay at one of the 54 camping pitches or in one of the 13 rental bungalows.
A small, 68-pitch naturist camping in a region which is very popular for hiking. Guests at Gymkana can enjoy the swimming pool and table tennis. Rental accommodations are available.
Another small naturist family camping in the near proximity of the Pyrenees mountains. Guests can enjoy a large swimming pool and several sports options. Activities are organized on a regular basis. The camping also has a variety in caravans, yurts, mobile homes and chalets for rent.
What, where and when to eat in France
The French are known for their excellent cuisine and some of the world’s most renowned wines. If you’re a foodie, chances are very likely that you might never want to leave the country again.
The best way to completely enjoy the great foods that the French have to offer is to completely indulge in the local eating habits as well. France typically has three mealtimes:
7 to 9 am: Breakfast: The French typically enjoy a light breakfast which often seems a bit meager to tourists and lacks the variety of let’s say an English or American breakfast. A French breakfast typically includes baguette (local bread), butter, jam and maybe a croissant or pain au chocolat. The comes with a coffee and/or orange juice.
12 to 2 pm: Lunch: In most parts of France, lunch is considered the most important meal of the day. Most restaurants don’t make a difference between what they serve for lunch and for dinner, but lunch deals at a lower price are very common. Lunch is often three courses: starter, main course and desert and often accompanied by wine.
7 to 10 pm: Dinner: Dinner in France is very similar to lunch and also contains three courses. Nevertheless, dinner is often rather seen as a time to relax and get together and lasts until the wee hours.
France has different types of eateries and your choice will determine which food you’ll be offered, the quality and the price tag.
Café: The café is an important part of the everyday life of the French. Sometimes they can be very fancy and sometimes they’re part of a bakery. This is the typical place to get breakfast or an in-between snack. Most cafés have a simple menu that is valid throughout the day. Keep in mind that there are often different prices between eating on the terrace, inside the café or at the bar.
Bistro: Here’s a fun fact: The word “bistro” originated from the time when the Russians occupied France. They used to yell “bistrot”, which means “hungry” in Russian. Soon this became the word for French fast food joints. Today, the bistro has evolved and can often be very classy and offer high-quality foods.
Brasserie: The word brasserie is French for a brewery. These used to be the typical eateries that were part of a brewery but have now become favorite places to go out with friends. They are a bit fancier than bistros and often have a more extensive menu but yet they’re not as classy as actual restaurants. A brasserie typically serves food throughout the day and is often open late.
Restaurant: This is the place where you come to have an actual multi-course dinner. It’s the most expensive option and there’s often quite a large difference between eating “a la carte” (pick things from the menu) or having a “menu” which are predefined courses.
The French cuisine is as varied as it’s delicious and it would be an impossible task to list all the delicacies here. Even those who are only typical in the Occitanie region. This is not a culinary guide after all, but there are some dishes that your really want to try when you’re in Occitanie.
Cheese: France has a huge variety of cheeses. Some popular ones from the Occitanie region include the Tomme des Pyrénées (semi-hard, salty cow’s milk cheese), the Cabécou (soft goat milk cheese) and the Roquefort (strong, unpasteurized sheep milk cheese). The French love their cheeses, especially as a dessert.
Confit de canard: A slow-roasted duck meat dish
Bourride: A popular fish stew, mostly made of white fish with a garlic sauce.
Cassoulet: A stew with different kinds of meat (mutton, lamb, quail, duck,…) combined with white beans.
Tielle à la Sétoise: A savory octopus and tomato pie, which also includes black olives, white wine and different herbs.
Farcis: Stuffed vegetables, often made from tomato, courgette or pepper and filled with minced meat and herbs.
Daube Avignonnaise: A lamb stew with white wine.
Seafood platter: Although more typical from the northern provinces of France, also at the coast of Occitanie it’s not difficult to find seafood platters. These range from small one-person platters to huge platters for the whole family and often contain oysters, shrimp, crab, prawns, langoustine, mussels, scallops and clams.
Rouille de Seiche: A seafood dish made of pieces of cuttlefish doused in a flavorful tomato-based sauce that is usually enriched with onions, white wine, and garlic.
Some of the best wines from the Occitanie region include:
Muscat: A sweet white wine that goes perfect with desserts and strong cheeses.
Picpoul de Pinet: A dry white wine, perfect with seafood and especially shellfish.
Fitou: Fruity red wine which can be enjoyed both young and old. Great with red meat and stews.
Côtes du Roussillon: Strong, fruity red wine, great with red meat.
Banyuls: A full-bodied red wine, great with desserts, cheese and foie gras.
Tavel: A dry pink rosé wine, great with seafood, chicken, pork or duck.
Getting to Occitanie and around
The two major airports in the Occitanie region are Montpellier Méditerrannée in the east and Toulouse Blagnac in the west. Both airports have connections to many European countries.
Other international airports include Béziers Cap d’Agde, Carcassonne; Nîmes, Perpignan and Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées. All have international connections. Because of the many low-cost airlines in Europe, it’s advisable to check whether there aren’t any cheap deals to one of these airports.
Bus / Train
France has a great high-speed train network called TGV and in only a couple of hours, you can find yourself arriving from Paris in Occitanie. Most large cities are connected to the TGV network, from there you’ll often need to take local trains to your final destination.
The local bus network is great to travel between towns and for day trips, but it is not advisable for long distances. In that case, it’s better to check with the long-distance bus companies. The main four serving many destinations in France are Isilines, Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus.
Except for the large naturist resorts like Cap d’Agde, Leucate or Sérignan Plage, having your own transportation is quite a must to get to your naturist destination in Occitanie. Car rental offices can be found in all airports and in most of the large train stations.
The “autoroutes” (highways) in France are most often tollways and are infamous for being very expensive. The alternative is the “route national” which is cheaper but can take a very long time because of the many traffic lights, speed bumps and roundabouts.
There is a difference in toll for different sizes of vehicles. Therefore it’s advisable to only rent the size of car you really need. The tolls are to be paid when you leave the tollway.
To be allowed to drive in France you need a valid European or international driving license, a valid passport or European identity card, proof of motoring insurance and proof of vehicle ownership. Cars driving on public roads must have yellow reflective vests, a warning triangle and an alcohol test. The minimum driving age is 18 years.
France is part of the Schengen zone, which means that visitors from the whole European union can visit the country with just a regular identity card. Also visitors from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are not required to get a Schengen visa to enter Croatia (or any other EU country).
Visitors from every other country will have to apply for a Schengen visa. This process often takes 14 to 21 days and requires a valid passport with at least 2 empty pages, proof of accommodation, proof of outgoing flights, travel health insurance and proof of financial sufficiency. Yes, it’s a lot, but in return, you’ll get a paper in your passport which will allow you to travel for 90 days not only in Spain but in every country which is part of the European Union.
France is generally a really safe country to travel to and still the world’s most popular holiday destination. Lately, there have been some occurrences of “yellow vest” protests turning into riots and terrorist attacks, but it’s quite unlikely that you’ll encounter any of those. If you stay away from protests, your major safety concern will be pickpocketing and scams.
Pickpockets operate mostly in tourist hotspots and on public transport. Keep in mind that these thieves are very good at what they do, so never leave your belongings unattended and leave everything in your hotel/car/camper which you don’t need.
The majority of the scams happen in large cities and beach villages.
Typical scams include:
⚠️ The friendship bracelet: A stranger wants to give you a friendship bracelet and ties it around your wrist in a way that it can’t easily be removed. Then you’re asked to pay for it.
⚠️ The golden ring: Someone finds an expensive golden ring on the street and offers it to you because his/her religion forbids keeping the ring. As soon as you accept, they’ll come up with a sobbing story and ask for money. The ring is worthless, by the way.
⚠️ The bicycle taxi scam: A driver offers to bring you to a certain destination for a cheap amount, once you get there, they’ll come up with a (fake) pricing list containing lots of additions, taxes, etc.
⚠️ Petition charity: You’re asked to sign a petition for a certain good cause, once you’ve signed they’ll show you the backside of the paper which says that you have to give a donation.
⚠️ The fake metro ticket: What the name says. Only buy tickets from official machines.
French is the language of love and the French are very proud of that. Parisians, for example, are often seen as rude by foreigners because they plainly refuse to speak English. Also in Occitanie, you can win the love of the locals if you at least try to speak their language.
Following words will help you get along:
Salut = Hello
Comment vas-tu? = How are you?
Bonjour = Good day
Bonsoir = Good evening/night
S’il vous plaît = Please
Merci = Thank you
Excusez-moi = Excuse me
Où est…? = Where is…?
la salle de bain = the bathroom
la plage naturiste = the nude beach
ma serviette = my towel
le bar = the bar
À votre santé! = Cheers!
Au revoir = Goodbye