CHM

My first visit to CHM was in late August 1996. It was supposedly a good place for young people and should be ideal for my 13 year old son James and I’d heard right. It’s also a pretty good place for adults!

First some basic details. CHM is on the Atlantic coast of South West France, some 50 miles North West of Bordeaux. It is big: over 1800 pitches and over 40 acres. It has two private, naturist, beaches, a very comprehensive selection of shops and a cash machine. Most pitches have some shade from trees, mainly pine, and some sun. The surrounding countryside is mostly pine forests. If you have bicycles, there are cycle tracks, quiet roads, virtually no hills and the pine forests give shelter from any wind. The site is very adequately supplied with toilets, showers (hot and cold) and wash places. All kept frequently and properly clean. All types of mainly free activities are available such as acquirability, yoga, swimming pools, discos and many others. A few activities have to be paid for, these include tennis courts, archery and the ‘clubs ‘for small children. I’m not sure about any charges for ‘Village Artisanal’ for painting, sculpture and their other activities.2

Like Britain, South West France has Atlantic weather, but is of course warmer. Even so there may be cooler or rainy days but on most days in July and August finding suitable shade for an afternoon siesta was almost essential. The sea is not at Mediterranean temperatures but just fine to cool off and for some exercise. There is often good surf and many people use body boards. Certainly the sea seems to be much to the liking of the young people. Quite a number of people use wetsuits and stay in the sea for long periods.

Even if you don’t surf, the waves make for an interesting swim. You can also walk naked for miles (southwards) along the beach although beyond the CHM beach it is not officially naturist. The beach is almost all sandy. – Food is of course very important, and most French food calls for wine. Restaurants (3 course meals from about 55FF) ‘take aways’ and a very comprehensive range of fresh food, meat and drink available from the shops should cover all needs. There are more shops and a market in Montalivet village and the nearest hypermarkets – for widest choice and lowest prices – are in Lesparre (15 miles).

As seems to be normal now, the site could best be described as clothes optional. Not ideal for a naturist venue but it may be preferred by young people in your family. The beach and the pool are however definitely naturist; CHM security staff will ask people to remove clothes if they try to go on the beach dressed (except in a wet suit or towel).

And why so good for young people?

Firstly its a question of size. Because CHM is such a big site you will find a reasonable number of children and young people of all ages playing football or going to the child or youth discos. The occasional disco ‘Soirée Hexamousse’ when they fill the disco hall with foam is a great favourite (clothes and any shoes will get wet!). CHM seems a pretty safe place for children of all ages, lost children, if wearing their badge, will soon find someone to take them home.

Equally however CHM is fine for adults but, if you’re allergic to children, don’t go in school holidays.

One of the great attraction is the many red squirrels on the site, although not tame, will come quite close if you stay still. – CHM certainly attracts a lot of regular visitors – many loyal over decades. There are a considerable number of permanent sites – chalets and mobile homes.

Even though this was my fourth visits I’m still a newcomer but I have certainly been made to feel extremely welcome and enjoyed a number of invitations to supper.

Gordon Fraser

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