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No dress code: Paris museum opens its doors to nudists

© Geoffroy van der Hasselt, AFP | Nudists peruse the art at Palais de Tokyo

Text by Katherine THOMPSON

Latest update : 2018-05-07

Parisian museums are well known for their nudes, but the world-famous Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum opened its doors to a different type of nude on Saturday.

The Paris museum, in the capital’s chic 16th arrondissement (district), granted access for the first time to naturists for a special two-hour tour, which was scheduled before regular opening hours so the nudists did not mingle with other visitors.

The museum told FRANCE 24 that the event was a huge success with a long waiting list, but just 161 lucky naturists got to take part. Despite its success, the contemporary art museum is not sure yet if it will host another.

Speaking at the Palais de Tokyo, the communications director of the Paris Naturists Association, Julien Claude-Penegry, said: “The naturists' way of life of is to be naked. Culture is part of our daily life, and this is a special opportunity."

I was a little scared

The Paris Naturists Association, which organised the event, said it is hoping to attract younger members and rid society of its "complexes" surrounding nudism.

However, some members were a little nervous at Saturday’s event.

One naturist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told French newspaper Le Parisian: "We were a little embarrassed undressing in the locker rooms, but that quickly passed. However, in the very large rooms of the Palais de Tokyo, I felt vulnerable naked … and so the art did not resonate in quite the same way.”

Marta, 23, who is not a naturist but decided to attend anyway, said, "I was a little scared, being a woman. But, in this environment, the body is not sexualised at all."

Later they had a celebratory drink, still naked, on the roof of the gallery, which overlooks the Eiffel Tower.

Naturist capital of the world

The one-off event, which was a first in the French capital, was part of increasing efforts by France's growing nudist community to encourage acceptance of clothes-free activities. There are some 88,000 naturists in Paris alone and 2.6 million across France.

The capital also houses France’s first naturist restaurant, O’Naturel, owned by twin brothers who saw a gap in the market. The restaurant not only attracts members of the naturist movement but also the curious, like Marta.

“The law requires that we keep our clothes on, but we are in a naturist environment, and for us it’s become normal,” co-owner Stéphane Saada told FRANCE 24.

“It shows that we are comfortable in our skin, its natural. We’re born naked!” said one diner.

Paris is set to introduce nudist clubbing later this year. But the nudists’ ambitions do not end there. As Laurent Luft, president of the Paris Naturists Association, told FRANCE 24: “We want to make Paris the naturist capital of the world.”

Date created : 2018-05-07

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