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La Jenny, South West France, Report.
1997, 1999, 2001
La Jenny, France. This report is actually a compilation of our last THREE visits to La Jenny, on the south Atlantic coast of France about 45 minutes from Bordeaux.I submit this partially as a form of therapy as we have just made plans to visit yet again this next summer and that seems light years away as we sit here in cold, drizzly Pennsylvania.
My wife and I first visited La Jenny in the summer of 1997 at the urging of a naturist pen pal. He had raved about the amazing atmosphere unlike anything he had experienced in The States. After kicking the idea around for several years, we finally decided to spend five days of our European vacation in a small rented cottage at La Jenny. For us, five days seemed like a significant percentage of our 11 day trip. Thus we were a bit taken aback when the office staff commented upon check in, "Too bad, you have to leave as soon as you have arrived." Indeed, Europeans tend to vacations differently than we do and it seems that few people stay less than two or three weeks at a time. None of this '85 attractions in 9 days' thing - people at La Jenny come to relax and unwind. It took us no time at all to come to understand this altered state of mind! The expansive grounds offered plenty of opportunity for walking, bike riding, hanging out by the pool, strolling on the seemingly infinite beach - just being naked and lazy.
And all too soon it was time to leave, and five days seemed like nothing. But this was also a reconnaissance mission. Is this a place we would want to bring our children? Would there be enough for them to do? Would they feel comfortable with the language barrier? With the nudity? We had been to several places with them in The States; Desert Shadows, Cypress Cove, Berkshire Vista to name a few. Not that we had bad experiences at these places, but they were typically the only children (or close to it) on the grounds and it never seemed quite natural for them. La Jenny IS a family experience. It is the only place I've ever been where no age group is absent. Toddlers, young children, teanagers, young adults - on up. And the activities for the children were top notch with a elaborate club house area for organized children's activities, pony rides, archery, beach-combing trips, you name it.
So two years later we returned with our kids, at that time aged 9 (twins) and 11 (daughter). The first couple of days, they tended to hang close to our 'chalet,' until our youngest daughter broke the barrier by deciding to attend Kid's Club. They were hooked!!! The counselor was fluently tri-lingual (German, French and English - at least) and was quick to engage the kids in various activites. Our two week stay concluded with a big musical review by the Kid's Club staged under theater lights and sets on the island in the middle of the pool complex. Our departure the next morning was nothing less than traumatic as our children (and their parents) woefully left paradise for Provence where we'd have to settle for visiting Roman ruins and hanging out at the Mediterranian Sea. Even that was anti-climactic after La Jenny.
We returned two years later in 2001 and will return again for three and half weeks this summer. The kids, now teenagers, are looking forward to our return even though they lack much interest in visiting any naturist destination on our own continent. So that's all about the kids and why you should plan your family naturist vacation in southern France, but what about mom and dad? We have learned a little more each time we have visited and finally after three trips feel like we have a pretty good lay of the land. We had not met another American there until just our last visit, during which we made good friends with a family from Northern California and a couple from L.A. We also learned more about the bike path that runs through the La Jenny property for miles and miles up and down the coast, with spurs that shoot to various destinations inland. You could bike to a different destination every day without ever mixing with automobiles.
Each year, we set off to walk the beach until we feel the need to turn around because our nudity seems out of place. Having walked well over an hour in either direction, we have yet to find that border as it seems that you could pretty much walk to Normandy without offending the natives.
We also learned that each village in the area has a street market on a specified morning of the week. Our friends from L.A. had a daily routine of getting up early each morning to seek out fresh ingredients at a local market in preparation for their gourmet meal du jour. They knew that the best cheese came from Arcachon while the freshest oysters could be found at Cap Ferret. Each street market had it's own character, with a variety of vendors and local delicacies. Sightseeing, by it's most touristy definition, is pretty limited at La Jenny.
The Dune du Pyla is a fun day outing - a huge sand dune that takes one about 5 minutes to run down and about 90 minutes to climb back up. Or the medieval village of St. Emillion is about a 90 minute drive, complete with ancient city walls and an amazing cathedral carved out of a granite mountainside - not too mention innumerable curvy cobblestone streets. If you're determined, you could make a day trip to the Dordogne Valley with it's imposing castles best viewed from a canoe floating down the middle of the Dordogne River, though this is better planned with an overnight stay in the village of Beynac or Domme. And there are many Chateau in the area that are apparently worth a visit - - but we keep facing the dilemma that to go do the tourist thing, we are obliged to put on clothing and leave heaven on earth. Just seems like too much trouble when you have to choose between that and a leisurely bike ride to the beach to kick around in the surf.
Other posted reports talk about some of the other ammenities, such as the restaurants, boutiques and grocery store (that features a rotisserie chicken to die for!). One could truly check in and not leave the grounds for several weeks, though we found ourselves doing the major shopping at the E LeClerc store about 15 minutes away, if simply for the variety and selection.
We have visited other naturist resorts in France, including Belezy in Provence and Cro Magnon in Dordogne, and even a brief stop at Cap d'Agde, but to our liking, non of these places come close to the comfort and ammenities of La Jenny.
Should you have any specific questions about this location, or naturist travel in France in general, I'd be happy to answer your questions as best I can. Bon Voyage!
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