All around as we drive are wind turbines and undulating fields interspersed with tiny quiet villages, and hardly any traffic on the road at all. This particular Sunday morning we had taken the 35-minute Channel crossing via Eurotunnel and were heading to Domaine De La Gagere near Luzy. A beautiful sunny day greeted us across the Channel and music playing favourite songs in the car helped us along the 7.5 hour journey. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, near the Roman village of Autun the landscape changed to hills, trees and bushes with livestock, simply beautiful, it reminded me immediately of mid Wales but in very hot sunshine! We took the clearly signposted route to Domaine De La Gagere and drove 2km along a winding single-track road past a lake and steadily uphill with alpine slopes (now reminiscent of Austria) and so on to the resort. My immediate thought was; it is stunning.
It is 40 degrees, now mid-afternoon, and the reception was gently humming with activity. Some new arrivals were staying ‘en route’ to Spain and other resorts, some were staying here for the duration of their holidays. We were warmly greeted by the newest owners, Floor and Tim, who took over last August and would love more British people to visit. We were given the delightful ‘Pepo’ hut, a converted touring wagon, to ‘glamp’ in for our week. It had a surprisingly well-appointed and neat little interior combining a double bed, small table and chairs, gas hob, utensils and - thankfully - a standard size fridge! The temperatures were rising outside. Our stay was at the end of June just as the heatwave hit France with the unusual highs of up to 44 degrees every day. We spent most of the week outside on our large grassed area, or finding cooler air on walks in the shady forest behind the site.
As we wandered the site initially we noted that all the pitches for tents or mobile homes and chalets are tastefully dotted over terraced grassed areas, all interspersed with trees and bushes. Even though this week was fully booked at La Gagère it seemed peaceful and quiet with every single pitch having plenty of seclusion. There was no ‘crammed’ feeling. When sitting outside our little Pepo we could only hear constant bird song and occasional cows but nothing else at all. It is a beautiful, relaxed, green resort.
There are two pools, the larger is heated to 26 degrees and has sunbeds surrounding it. The smaller is a single depth throughout and sited next to the children’s play area but at this time of year, with children at school, the adults use it for a cooler dip. There are three sanitary blocks, one either side of each pool and one further one towards the end of the site.
Near the main entrance is the restaurant and bar with a set evening menu of two courses to be pre-ordered (adding your name to a list) during the day. Hot snack food is also available during the day and there is a snack bar serving chips, burgers open for one hour each evening. You can be naked here 24 hours a day whilst on the site, including in the restaurant and in the bar. There is also some form of entertainment every day including night walks, aqua aerobics, sport on TV, pétanque, volley-ball, a music quiz and once a week, a happy hour. With a small shop covering essentials including fresh bread each day and Wifi (adequate but a little slow) it is possible to spend an entire week naked and never leave the resort. For a larger weekly shop there are two large supermarkets and a bank to be found at the small attractive quiet village of Luzy, a 10-minute drive away.
Wherever we travel, we always like to venture out and explore. Domaine de la Gagère is within the Morvan National Park forest with a large number of walking trails that begin outside the gate. These walks are up and down the hills, and within 5 minutes you are walking in the shade of tall pine trees, surrounded by the scent of woodland and wild flowers. At various points the trails take you to the edge of the forest where the trees thin out as you walk to expose stunning views across the whole landscape. It’s a beautiful area and a lovely to escape to the cool forest, and although they ask that you dress when off site, we never saw another soul.
After one day’s exertions we enjoyed a half hour massage on site. Everything is done by writing your name on a list and so it is easy to book a day and time. There are several masseuses who work a few weeks each during the summer and we met Franz, a Dutchman who has been coming and working at the resort for years.
We were particularly keen to visit the vineyards, after all the famous wine country of Burgundy was only a hour away…we enjoy cycling and managed to combine cycling and a vineyard tour with wine tasting all in one, what a novelty! This was in an area near Beaune at a winemaker called Jolliot in the village of Pommard. We had no expectations at all, so it was delightful to arrive to a friendly welcome, be advised where to park in the shade ‘free of charge’, and be given our cycling equipment without any difficulty. Our tour guide, Theodore “call me Theo” was a young Frenchman who lived locally and knew every single thing there was to know about wine. We cycled through vineyards on cycle paths away from the roads with vines reaching out into the valleys and up the hills as far as you could see. Occasionally we stopped in shaded areas for some explanation of wine areas, grading and grapes. Theo took us to Volnay first where we were treated to a natural pool that was historically used as a ‘lavoir’ for washing clothes. In this cool rectangular building, open on one side with stone pillars, we treated our hot feet to a dip in the cool pool whilst listening to our guide and taking our first taste of local wine which Theo pulled out of his backpack. Cycling on we then arrived at the winemaker Jolliot’s cellars (what bliss the cool of the cellars were that day) and were given a short tour with tastings.
As the journey had been a little long from the Eurotunnel we decided to break it for the return and drove to a small village near Reims for the last night of our week. We found a reasonable hotel for one night only and walked around the Champagne vines at 7pm in 38 degree heat!
Driving in France is such a joy compared to the UK with her quiet roads and dramatic scenery. There are so many Naturist sites to choose from there, it all comes down to what you are looking for. We went for the wine, scenery, peace and quiet and we were not disappointed by Domaine De La Gagère. It is not often I say this but; ‘I would definitely go back’.
Phone : +33 (0) 38 63 04 811
Website : la-gagere.com/en