Review: CHM Monta in Vendays-Montalivet, France

The origin of naturism has been subject to a lot of debate. Many historians who studied the lifestyle will point out a period in the early 20th century when the German Dr Heinrich Scham wrote the book Nacktkultur. Some, however, say it started already during the industrial revolution when a Belgian guy first used the term “naturism”. And others will tell you that it was way earlier, during Roman times when naked sports were more common than clothed ones.


Honestly, we don’t have a clue who’s right. But what we do know is that there’s a place in southern France which has been significant for the organisation of “modern” naturism: naturist camping Centre Hélio-Marin in Montalivet, or shortly: CHM Monta, because that’s where, in 1953, the International Naturist Federation (INF-FNI) was founded.
And guess what… We’ve been to CHM Montalivet.


During the last decades, CHM Montalivet has grown from a small naturist spot at the beach to a naturist paradise which can accommodate up to 12 000 visitors in the heat of the summer. And yet they have been able to stick to their values. While reading the campgrounds charter and watching the many genius cartoon signs we imagined that the blog post we’ve written some time ago about whether naturist resorts which hold on to the traditional values still have a future could as well have been written here.


Maintaining a clothing prohibited atmosphere in such a large place is of course an impossible job. Every minute of the day someone is arriving or leaving or getting a bit chilly. Yet there are many staff members who will question your amount of textile if you clearly don’t have any reason for wearing them. These staff members are supported by three naturist clubs within the campground: CLN, CSBCA & NACA.
This is a place where naturism is still standing strong.

How to get to CHM Montalivet

Montalivet is a small village located at the magnificent Atlantic coast in France, in the area that’s called the Bay of Biscay. Most Western Europeans opt to self-drive to the campground. Coming from the south it’s best to follow direction Bordeaux and drive north from there. Coming from the north or east you could also opt to drive to Nantes and go south from there, crossing the Gironde river in Royan. Also those coming from the UK can take the ferry to France in Bournemouth and then follow directions to Nantes/Royan.


Coming by plane, your best bet will be to fly into Bordeaux airport, which serves many European destinations. From outside of Europe you’ll probably have to take a connecting flight in Paris, or you could take the high-speed train from there which will bring you to Bordeaux in about 2 hours. Public transport is available from Bordeaux, especially during high season, but if you’d like to explore some of the surroundings we can strongly advise you to rent a car at the airport.

Where to stay at CHM Montalivet

Where on earth can you bring those 12 000 naked people together? Well, a 200ha piece of land is a good start. Divide this land into somewhat 2 000 individual spots and there you are. Of course, such a large group of people have many different requirements when it comes to the perfect place to spend their summer so the range of accommodation types is huge. Many tents and camper pitches are available for those who prefer to bring their own home away from home. If you prefer a bit more comfort (or in some cases a lot) there are several sizes of ready set luxury tents available for rent as well as mobile homes, chalets and studios.


New Cambium intext 1
Although CHM Montalivet is a huge place, we can imagine that it does get packed during the peaks of high season. But we’ve noticed before that this doesn’t need to be something negative. In other places around the world, it has shown that being close to your neighbours often improves the community feeling and the social aspect. Two values that are very important for naturists.


At CHM, the choice is yours. The campground is divided in about twenty different “neighbourhoods” and just like in any kind of village, those around the heart of CHM are the most densely packed. If waking up and hearing “good morning” from every direction is your thing, try to get hold of a spot in La Lande, Bruyeres or Ecuruils. The larger chalets which you find in for example Atlantique, Medoc or Polynesie provide much more privacy and for those who prefer a real camping in the woods feeling there are the neighbourhoods near the ocean like Sables.


We very much enjoyed our fully equipped mobile home in the La Lande neighbourhood, the roaring of the ocean was the perfect song to put us to bed and we couldn’t imagine a better way to wake up than with the friendly smiles of our German and French neighbours.

What to do at CHM Montalivet

It’s impossible to list all the facilities of CHM without having to write a book about them. Take all the things you’ve ever seen at a naturist place and bring them together and you might get a slight idea. But you’ll have to add a lot more, some things you’ve probably never even heard of. Mini-ten for example which has actually been invented here. The court looks the same as a tennis court but smaller and instead of rackets you use some kind of wooden glove to hit the ball to each other (we understand if you have no clue what we’re talking about, really, you have to see this for yourself). A great way to spend an hour or two in the late afternoon. You can just rent the equipment and give it a try for yourself or you could take a class to learn the tricks to become a professional mini-tenner. Who knows it might be added to the Olympics one day.


For the active ones among you, all different kinds of sports can be practised. From petanque which is still the unofficial French national sport to more adventurous ones like diving. It’s even possible to do you level one diving course at CHM.


If there’s one sport for which the Atlantic is famous, it’s of course surfing. Its waves are just perfect to give you a cool ride on a board without having to risk your life. And it’s one of the few places around the world where you can still surf like it was initially invented in Hawaii: naked.
One afternoon we and a sixty-something couple (many respect for them!) were ready to receive our surf initiation from Yann, one of the local surf instructors. One toe in the chilly late September ocean water was enough to convince us that it was probably better to be naked inside a wetsuit but nevertheless we had an amazing time. Although we have to mention some jealousy when the sixty-two-year-old lady was the first one to catch a wave.

Surfing does put a lot of pressure on certain muscles of which you had no idea that they exist so the next day our first (and only) plan was the spa. A perfect choice. The serene atmosphere inside the spa together with the relaxing music make you completely forget the time. You could have been in this large hot tub for only seconds or forever, you don’t have a clue until the friendly girl from the reception comes whispering in your ear that it’s time for your massage. We can highly recommend trying the Ayurvedic massage, really, if there’s anything you just HAVE to do at this spa it’s that one. It blew our minds.
Afterwards, you just head back to the hot tub or sauna or hammam to lose time again, until your stomach starts telling you that it really wants some attention as well.


We can certainly recommend the Gaia restaurant near the water park for some delicious food, it has a surf bar-like atmosphere which will make you feel like a real surfer even if you’ve never managed to stand up on your board. The fish restaurant at the commercial center serves delicious and cheap lunches.


You see? We’ve only talked about a fraction of the facilities and this is already becoming a very long piece… But there’s one thing we still have to mention, especially if you’re interested in the naturist lifestyle and the history of it: The Museum Albert & Christiane Lecocq. They were the founders of CHM and have been a huge influence on what worldwide naturism is today. It’s located in the cabin where they used to live and you can find photos, newspaper articles, and many artefacts from back in the day. Look out for what’s called “The Minimum”. It’s a hilarious piece of clothing that was used when full nudity was not yet allowed on the beach.


Maestra Banner
One more thing: bring a bike or rent one of you don’t want to spend most of your holiday walking.
And one more thing: try the waterpark, it’s amazing.
Oh and one… nah, we’ll leave you with that.

Around CHM Montalivet

Let’s say you’ve booked at CHM Monta for two or three months, then you might actually find some time to explore what’s to see outside of the campground. But you’ll have to put on some clothes though.
The open-air summer market in Montalivet town (just about 1km away) is the largest at the Atlantic coast and the perfect place to find souvenirs for those who stayed at home, or for yourself of course. Another nice half-day trip could bring you to Verdon-sur-Mer at the tip of the peninsula from where you can visit the Cordouan lighthouse, the oldest one in France.


If architectural beauty is more your thing, you should certainly put a visit to the towns Lousac and Royan on your itinerary where you can spend several hours awing at the typical historical buildings. The whole area is perfect for cycling and if you take the Medoc route you’ll find about 200 different chateaux where you can taste delicious wines. In fact, everywhere you go you’ll be tasting something, cheese, foie gras, oysters, seafood, you name it. It’s all a specialty here.


For amazing historical beauty, the city Bordeaux is only somewhat 90km away. It’s UNESCO World Heritage and the historical center takes you back to the early eighteen hundreds. Don’t forget to appreciate the landscape along your way.

Staff at CHM Montalivet

Bringing thousands of naturists together requires a lot of work, this is something we often forget while we are on holiday. Somewhat 200 staff members work full time through the summer months (excluding staff in restaurants) to make your experience a perfect one. Fifty of those are animators whose task is to build an impressive curriculum of activities. Sports for all age groups, kids disco, aqua fitness, yoga, about 10 different dance classes, even more, art classes and this list goes on and on. Try to name an activity and you’re very likely to find it at CHM. Did we hear anyone say Tarot? Yep, that’s on Friday at 8 pm. Theatre for adults? On Monday. Concerts? Several days a week… Wait wait wait… A marathon! Make sure to not drink too much wine on Saturday because Sunday morning you’re on!


We noticed again the strong naturist feeling when we saw the family activities. Of course, you like to drop off your young ones at Kid’s Island while you’re going to the spa, but you do want to do some things together other than having lunch and dinner, right? The often organized family games and contests like sandcastle building are just perfect for that.


Another number that blew our minds was the number of security staff: 70. That’s much more than the police corps at the average town with ten thousand inhabitants… And of course, we start thinking “why is this necessary?” and of course dark thoughts start coming to our minds. The staff members relaxed us though, most of the time they are just there to provide a secure environment and most of their interventions include waving down speeding drivers or kids who ride their bike without lights during the evening. Probably also grownups by the way.


Guests of CHM Montalivet

For such a big place we had not really dared to imagine that we would find the friendly atmosphere we were used to finding a smaller naturist spot. And yet that was exactly what was there. Friendliness all over the place. Everyone we met, from our neighbours to the people sitting next to us at the restaurant to strangers passing us by on the way to the beach smiled at us and greeted us with a bonjour or bonsoir. Was it because the naturist values that are still promoted that the community feeling has been able to maintain, even in such a large scale? We can’t say, but there must be something in the air that makes people realise that friendliness doesn’t cost a cent and that respect is something you earn by giving it away. A kind of respect we found in several different ways, from the friendly people to the spotless nature to a volunteer organisation inside CHM which takes care of stray cats.




CHM Montalivet is much more than just being naked. It’s one of those places that really keep the naturist spirit alive. Respect for each other and for nature is highly promoted and this is reflected in a friendly community where you can choose to relax all day or keep you and your active family busy for every second of your stay.


Read more about CHM Monta on  NUDE
More info and reservations:
More photos: On our Facebook


Disclaimer: We have been invited as guests of CHM Monta, but of course all opinions are our own. We are super confident you will love this place as much as we did!


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28 thoughts on “Review: CHM Monta in Vendays-Montalivet, France”

      • Hi Nick/Lins – so if I understand correctly, if my girlfriend and myself had to pick one – CHM would have a slight edge over Euronat? And in terms of comfort? We’re not into camping and rather rent a mobile home which is why we’ve been going to Valalta for a few years now (and again this year) but thinking of another place for a change.

        • Hi Milan, that really depends on what you like. We found the atmosphere at CHM better than at Euronat, but Euronat does feel more spacious than CHM. We would advise you to pick one and visit the other for a day. Then you can compare for yourself for next time 🙂

  1. “In other places around the world it has shown that being close to your neighbours often improves the community feeling and the social aspect. Two values which are very important for naturists.”
    Maybe you should invite Bart from Belgium there…

  2. I have already heart talking about Montalivet which is a really giant place. I dream to go there.
    Thank you for this article and the one about Euronat (which seems to be an intersting place too).
    But I worry about Atlantic ocean. I enjoy to go skinny dipping in the sea but I know that there are in Atlantic very strong and dangerous streams that may take away bathers from a few meters from the beach to hundreds meters (they call it baïnes :
    Unfortunately (or fortunately), I do not think you had temperature to go skinny dipping. But do you have heart talking about it in Euronat and Montalivet. I do not think that there are some safety guards on these beaches. Thanks

    • Indeed, the currents at the Atlantic can be pretty strong but in fact both CHM and Euronat have safeguards on their beaches. It’s also announced whether the sea is suitable to swim in or not.

      • Same on Arna further down the coast. And you have to watch out for suddenly appearing thunderstorms in which case the lifeguards are evacuating the beach (happened to us last year, watching the storm building up at the horizon was quite a spectacular sight!). I used to go on holiday at the Danish west coast when i was a child, but the sea in Landes is even rougher. Which of course is fun, but also dangerous.

  3. Hi delighted to see this post. I just booked 9 nights in chm in early July. Myself and wife and 3 year old and baby to be. Glad to hear the great reviews.
    Do the staff hassle you about clothes outside of the pool area or is it relaxed. My wife is not a full naturist if you know what I mean.
    Would love to hear more about it. Any pictures?

    • Great! Nice to hear you’re going as well!
      Nudity is very much encouraged at CHM, you’ll see the many signs. But outside of the pool area and as part of a couple your wife is quite unlikely to be commented on by the staff.
      Have fun this summer!

  4. My wife and I are thinking about a trip there this summer. Did you find most of the staff and guest spoke English? Our French is pretty limited.

  5. Booked in for our first family holiday at Monta in August. Where is the best place for quiet but not too remote camping pitches? We have a big tent 6m x 4m.

      • Thanks for the advice. I assume this in the Ajoncs area, towards the beach? Any tips on how to select one on the booking? I’ve already paid deposit, and an excited family from the UK are keen to get the best pitch possible!

        • Unfortunately we can’t give you the perfect tip. We were at CHM in September, which means that the public and the amount of other visitors might be a bit different than in the high summer. But we think that any place towards the beach should be fine.

  6. My wife and I are returning to CHM from Atlanta for the third summer. We have gone from one week, to 3.5, and, now, 5.5. We’ve never had a problem with the language barrier and genuinely enjoy our time there.

    One item of note is the amount of people who wear clothes in the evenings. I travel a long way to live a naturist lifestyle and found myself being the only nudie in the crowd numerous times. I’m used to being the naked guy at Burning Man but my wife would get uncomfortable and wear a wrap in the evenings. I also noted that, other than the lifeguards, staff were always clothed. Many of their duties wouldn’t require clothing for safety and if they worked without, maybe others at the resort would remain nude more during their stay.

    We toured Euronat (CHM guest can get a free day pass) but thought that the homes weren’t spaced close enough to get the neighborhood feel we had at CHM. We also enjoy the outdoor showers at CHM on the way back from the beach.

    Someday we may try other resorts, but for now we’re happy to return to CHM.

    • Hi! We’re glad you like CHM that much!

      Although we know that they’re working actively to not become a clothing optional resort but really a naturist/nudist place, the size of CHM is a disadvantage in such a case. Because there are always people coming and going and getting ready to go somewhere, it’s pretty much impossible for CHM to make sure that everyone is nude most of the time.

      Also, other than naturism/nudism, Europe has a culture of nude vacationers who like to spend their time nude at the beach but feel little for nude sports, nude dining, etc. In such a diverse crowd, there will always be people who prefer to be dressed at a certain moment.
      And then there’s the snowball effect, as you mention with your wife. Clothed people make some nudists feel uncomfortable to they cover up as well. Which is a pity.

      About the clothed staff, this is again something we see more and more in Europe. Working at a nudist resort does not require you to be a nudist yourself. At the smaller clubs it’s often still the case that only nudists work there and that the staff is nude most of the time. At the larger resorts they often prefer to hire qualified non-nudist staff over nudists with less qualifications. Which we don’t think is such a bad thing.

      • You’re absolutely right about the small/large site split between nude and clothed staff, and when you’re hiring dozens of locals for a long season, I doubt the big sites have a choice. Somewhere like Domaine Laborde, where all of the small team (except for the maintenance/cleaning folks) are naked makes a real difference to the feel of the place, especially in the bar and restaurant.

        However there is a difference between the practical necessity of clothed staff, and clothed guests – I too have felt that sudden awkwardness of sitting in a bar or restaurant, and realising I’m one of a minority (sometimes of one) still unclothed. And self-conscious is one thing you really don’t want to be feeling on a naturist holiday.

        It gets worse at sites like Serignan Plage, where there is a new clothed bar/restaurant, in addition to the perennial textile side of the campsite. Even the kids remarked on how weird it was having to get dressed to go to certain places. Not that Serignan isn’t pretty close to paradise in most other respects!

        We’re off to CHM Montalivet for the first time next week, and your review and remarks are very encouraging! Thanks!

  7. Hi Nick & Lins, great review, we are also thinking to visit this place in coming summer.
    We heard different opinions about attitude to naturism there, so we are going to check it out. On the CHM websites they say that an important number of their employees ( animators, post-office staff) go about their work undressed. Please advise if this is true ? We have two kinds , and since we all naturists I would expect their leaders to be naturists as well. Also please advise if its OK stay naked during evening events , dinner and shopping?

    • Hi Yvette, please note that meanwhile this review is 5 years old and we haven’t been back to CHM since. So our info might be a bit outdated. We remember that some of their staff members worked naked, but definitely not all of them. Sometimes they were dressed for safety or hygiene reasons (in France, people working in a kitchen can’t be naked) and sometimes they just weren’t naturists. There are probably more than 100 people working at CHM, it’s already hard to find qualified personnel, let alone qualified naturist personnel.
      As far as we remember, nudity is always and everywhere allowed at CHM and is also encouraged.


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