At the naturist camp of Montalivet, the ultimate battle of naked owners, threatened with eviction


The waves beat tirelessly on beach 2 of the Helio-Marine Center (CHM) in Montalivet (Gironde), the first naturist center opened in France in 1950. It’s the end of August. Vacationers leave. The regulars, the pioneers, the faithful, the year-round residents will find themselves among themselves. Some campers, like Guy and Jeanne Bergougnoux, physical education teachers and entertainers, have been frequenting the site for over fifty years. Every summer, they set up their caravan in the “ONF zone”, so called because it is owned by the National Forestry Office. It is the oldest of “Monta”, the most beautiful, the closest to the sea. The harshest too: no water or electricity, showers only with cold water.

At the end of summer, the Bergougnoux are closing their “house”: marbled interior, cork walls, sculpted mirrors, leather furniture, macramé curtains, chrome handles… The awning is carefully folded up, the caravan ready to be towed if necessary, the ground left clean. Like every year. Except that this time floats a strange atmosphere on the center. Is this goodbye a goodbye? On March 3, like 59 other residents, Guy and Jeanne Bergougnoux received a registered letter from CHM management. It announced to them the non-renewal of their lease and the obligation to move their caravan before December 31, 2022. The 1er September, Guy responded, alone, extracting himself from the collective fight that is taking place.

“Following your letter of expulsion from our caravan, I ask you to reconsider your decision. At 50, it’s easier to meet such a requirement; at more than 80 years old, this letter is a real trauma. » He weighed every word. He and Jeanne arrived at the CHM at Easter 1967, they came back every summer. “Montalivet has been a big part of my life. I loved the freedom I found here, the extraordinary quality of the bonds between people,” reminds Guy Bergougnoux. Clown and acrobat, sometimes programmed in the first part of Michel Delpech, Ringo or the Jacques Brothers, he provided a show every year in the center hall, surrounded by trees on which people climbed to better see him disguised as a big boy. -mother, walking on hands, giving a show titled CHM: The Five Horrible Musculos.

In a bar on the Place du Châtelet in Paris, Noëlle Thomas takes a sip of her mint diabolo. The vague look, a little sad. A bank executive, she is back home after spending more than a month in her caravan, free and naked, in “Monta”. “My Paradise” she smiled, long brown hair wrapping around her slender, almost fifty-year-old face. “Monta”, she arrived there when she was very young. She remembers the showers under the trees, the long conversations about washing the dishes, done together, the astronomer who came to tell them about the stars… Her mother, 75, now has a bungalow there. Noëlle preferred austerity and the natural side of the “ONF zone”.

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