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"To get an eyeful" in French: An accidental trip to a “Naturiste” beach

Amidst fragrant parasol pine trees, see the charming blue umbrellas, lower right, in front of a highly sought-after restaurant and its terrace over the sea. Hiking down toward this turquoise paradise we had no idea it was a "no clothes" cove...  Too late, there was no turning back--not when we'd reserved a table at Chez Jo a week in advance!

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TODAY’S WORD: "se rincer l'oeil" ("to rinse the eye")

    : to get an eyeful, to see too much of something

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last week we traveled back to the area of Cavalaire, for our 29th lune de miel. Our destination was a little over an hour's drive from home, and we made it there by 11 a.m. Jean-Marc kept asking me if I recognized the surroundings, but it had been 20 years since we took the kids here. "Look, there’s Fort Brégançon. Maybe Bribri and Manu will invite us for lunch?" Jean-Marc smiled toward the Presidential vacation residence (and now I can vaguely remember him saying the same when Chirac was president). 

La Plage de Cabasson (with a view of the medieval fortress out at sea) is beautiful at the end of September and its crystal clear waters were almost warm. We walked to the far end of the beach to spread out our towels and put up a large parasol. It felt so good to get into the Mediterranean and wade up and down the shoreline while Jean-Marc snorkled near the rocky outcrop. Drying off, we left our serviettes on the beach and enjoyed lunch at La Cabasse, where I toasted to Jean-Marc: so far this had been 20 sur 20--a top score for his well-planned itinerary. Bravo!

Fort bregancon
View of Fort Brégançon from the mainland, at Plage de Cabasson.

We'll skip talking about our quirky hotel but it may have been a herald for Day Two.... which was set to be the highlight of our trip. Our son Max insisted we go to La Plage du Layet to eat at the incontournable “Chez Jo”. We decided to again bring our towels and parasol for a “free” spot in the cove, and then splurge on lunch at the gourmet restaurant. But as we made our way down into the beach, any excitement about our plans quickly turned to panic when we passed a sign along the path that read "PLAGE NATURISTE"....

"A naturiste beach. Are you kidding me?"

"I had no idea," my husband swore.

"I can't believe this! The restaurant is part of une plage naturiste!"

"We can go somewhere else if you want!" Jean-Marc was as surprised as I was.

I was more annoyed than anything, and that energy made me stubborn: “No! I don't want to go somewhere else!” I wanted to be near the restaurant our son had raved about, where we had made reservations well in advance. There was no backing out now. We'd figure it out when we arrived! 

Hiking around the last bend I saw the restaurant to the right, and to the left a blur of skin...de la peau à gogo.

"Bonjour," I said to the waiter. "We have reservations for lunch. But we'd like to go to the beach first. Do you rent matelas?" We had not planned on springing for lounge chairs, but this was an emergency! Designated chairs could be our ticket to more conventional digs in this unconventional cove.

"Yes," he smiled, pointing to the rental chair area. But none of the clients were dressed there either. Not a single thread anywhere to be seen.

"We'll take those two," I quickly decided, indicating the last two chairs nearest the restaurant. I dropped my bag on the sand and exhaled. I'd already decided I was not stripping down. I'd rather feel the embarrassment of being the only suit-wearing wuss at the beach (and what a suit--it was the same one I brought to Morocco, out of respect for the culture. It covered a lot of ground)!

Forming a human shield, Jean-Marc took the chair nearest the crowd and surprised me by keeping his swim trunks on. (In solidarity? I'll never know for sure.) Next, he grabbed his snorkel mask and confidently strode out to sea, disappearing into the water.

Alone, I fussed with our towels and pretended to be completely at ease as the odd one out. My eyes darted left, then right. Groups of unabashed senior citizens stood along the shoreline, casually chatting. I wanted to get into the water, too, but not if it meant The Walk of Humiliation. My paranoid side was certain the naturists were having a good laugh at my expense. Well then, let them. Qu'ils rigolent!

I shot up and walked with dignity across the shore, and fell quickly into the water. Swimming out far enough, I turned to look back at the beach and got quite an eyeful: sitting, lounging, reading, chatting, and strolling, there was the flock of nudes. And here, dans son maillot uni noir, ONE BLACK SHEEP. 

And what is a black sheep if not a rebel? The thought was amusing enough to carry me confidently through the awkward experience--in time to bare all in a lively story for you today. So hats off (and almost everything else) to the unintended adventures Life brings us.

Kristi and Jean-Marc in Lavandou beach

Post Note: What a relief to see everyone put on their clothes for lunch (up until the last minute I couldn't be sure about the restaurant's dress code). After lunch, one other bathing-suited couple showed up, thank God!, and quickly put down towels near ours. Finally, a family of four arrived, and they were quick to sit near us too. 

As for any naturistes who may be reading this now...I hope you are laughing along with me. I leave you with a good address—La Plage du Layet in Cavalaire—for the next time you visit the south of France. Allez-y! 

To leave a comment, click here. Thanks in advance for your comments or corrections. I appreciate it!

Le Lavendou
Loved visiting the town of Lavandou, and the message on the door "Soyons heureux"--Be Happy. Do you think this one would make a good postcard for the La Carte Postale collection?


Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me pronounce the vocabulary
se rincer l'oeil =
to have an eyeful
la lune de miel = honeymoon
Bribri et Manu = Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron
le parasol = beach umbrella 
la serviette = towel
= must see
la peau = skin
à gogo = galore
le matelas = lounge chair on the beach
Qu'ils rigolent = they can go ahead and laugh
le maillot uni noir = black one-piece


Thanks in advance to readers considering sending in a blog donation for the first time. Your contribution will go a long way not only in backing this journal but also in encouraging me to keep writing. Your support means a lot, and I'm truly grateful. Amicalement, Kristi

Jim B.
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“Joyeux anniversaire de marriage! Love your mom’s comment.” Linda F.

"Merci beaucoup Kristi et Jean-Marc! I’ve been looking forward to reading this memoir for over a year and have finally made time." Jennie

Louis John Janet Kristi Jean-Marc Chateau Ferry Lacomb in Trets
Provence Wine Tour near Aix. The weather was spectacular for Jean-Marc's most recent vineyard visit to Chateau Ferry Lacomb in Trets-en-Provence. Many thanks, Louis, Janet, and John for reserving a specialized French wine tour with Jean-Marc. It was lovely to meet you! 

If you are still thinking of moving to France, click the book cover to read about an American family who moves to Nice.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Judy Feldman

This is such a hilarious story! I’m pretty sure that I’d react the same way. But, so glad you were able to enjoy your gourmet anniversary lunch, habillée! And, thanks for the new expression, “se rincer l’œil.” Will try to use that one!

Kristin Espinasse

So good to see your note, Judy. I had 5 immediate unsubscribes after posting the story and feared today’s topic was a bad choice. I hope you will enjoy using the expression. It is a colorful one!


Hi Kristi, it was lovely to meet you at Chez Joe. Great article and just so you know I was not wearing underwear for the entire duration of lunch, so all was not as it seemed 😊🇫🇷 Daniel xx

Karla Ober

I can't help wondering why Max omitted mentioning the surrounding naturaliste situation when he recommended Chez Jo!


Bravo - never to old to laugh and enjoy humanity and all its quirks. Not sure I would have been brave enough to continue after seeing the sign. Thanks for starting my day with a laugh. And congratulations again on your special anniversary.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Daniel, Thanks for reading and commenting on my post (and for the racy info)! Jean-Marc and I really enjoyed meeting you and Moses and were dazzled seeing you exit the scene by boat! 

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Karla, while Max had never been there before , I later found out he was aware of the no dress code and saw the opportunity for yet another practical joke on his parents! I need to post the text message I sent him the moment we realized what we walked into! Also, plenty of diners come directly to the restaurant, several via yacht (the restaurant will send out its little boat to pick up these clients).

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Nancy! And I will bet you would be brave enough to continue on to the beach…if you travelled all this way. 

Karen in Northport, NY

🤣 and I'll bet if you go there for your 49th you'll be checking out the crowd for surgery scars and asking advice. Thanks for today's fun.


Our dear Kristi,
What a gift you have!! You had me laughing out loud at your colorful descriptions,equally colorful situations-- and then also expected reactions(!!) --when you found yourselves in the middle of la plage naturaliste!!
It particularly hit home because years ago,Rod and I discovered we'd wondered onto a top less plage, and even though by today's standards it sounds pretty tame, back then it definitely was not!! We absolutely shared your thoughts!!
Fun times,joyful days! Thank you ma chere for sharing this with us, your fortunate readers, and reminding us all that life is indeed a gift and that's why its called the present.
Blessings to you and your beautiful family.
Natalia. Xo


Haha your son is hilarious !!

What a great practical joke.
I share the same fear of public nudity and had similar challenging experiences in European saunas… always fearful the boss or someone you know is in there!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, chère Natalia. I love reading about your time in France with Rod. You are a blessing, and your notes are always uplifting. Merci et bon week-end 💕


Hi Kristi,
Sounds like a wonderful anniversary!
How was Chez Jo?
I remember going to Greece and finding ourselves on a nude beach. The funniest thing to me was watching some young men play frisbee! 😳😂😂😂
Thanks for the fun story!


This is too funny - being an American, I too had "se rincer l'oeil" in Spain while visiting my brother and his family. Even though it was not a nudist beach, there was plenty of nudity going on - and the beach was full of families and children!!! My own brother called me a prudish American, as I fumed over the half-nude, perky 20-year-old girl straddling her boyfriend on the lounge chairs next to ours and putting on quite the show for everyone. Needless to say, my husband and I traded our beach chairs for swimming and floating in the beautiful Mediterranean.

Frances in Napa, CA

Loved this story, and I know that I would also have kept my swimsuit on. How wonderful that there are people who feel comfortable enough with themselves that they can bare all! I know there are beaches such as this in France, Spain, Germany, etc. In Germany, people even omit clothes during the summer in public parks.

How was the lunch!? What did you have?

Now you get to play a practical joke on your son.

Julie Farrar

Oh, I'm sure Max knew in advance what you'd encounter :) But the thought I had when reading this story was how the French are so la-dee-da about swimwear when on a beach, but they have such strict rules about what one wears when swimming laps at an indoor pool (e.g., type of suit allowed, proper head covering, no shoes that could be worn outside, etc.).


Bien sur! Comment Max a fait une bonne blague! Il a trompé ses parents! Ha, ha!

Suzanne Dunaway

Hey, I always say "Grin and bare it".....
Can't wait to tell you two someday about fixing lunch for eight friends and when I left the kitchen and arrived with the first course, everyone was naked!
Another story.....

Suzanne Dunaway

Speaking of matelas, I once long ago asked our beach furniture provider for "four matelas"........"are they all for you, madame", he asked......then corrected my French.

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