Cap d'Agde is the seaside resort next to the town of Agde, France, on the Mediterranean Sea in the département of Hérault, within the région of Languedoc-Roussillon. Agde can be reached by TGV SNCF train direct from Paris or Lille while the closest airports are Béziers-Cap d'Agde en Languedoc, with direct budget airline services to the UK and Scandinavia, or Montpellier-Fréjorgues Airport. Public transport in a taxi or bus is available between Agde and Cap d'Agde. The town of Agde was a 5th century Greek colony settled by Phocaeans from Massilia. The symbol of the city, the bronze Ephebe of Agde, of the 4th century, recovered from the fluvial sands of the Hérault, was joined in December 2001 by two Early Imperial Roman bronzes, of a child and of Eros, which had doubtless been on their way to a villa in Gallia Narbonensis when they were lost in a shipwreck. In the history of Roman Catholicism in France, the Council of Agde was held 10 September 506 at Agde, under the presidency of Caesarius of Arles. It was attended by thirty-five bishops, and its forty-seven genuine canons deal "with ecclesiastical discipline". One of its canons forbidding ecclesiastics to sell or alienate the property of the church from which they derived their living, seems to be the earliest mention of the later system of benefices. Agde is known for the distinctive black basalt used in local buildings, for example the cathedral of Saint Stephen, built in the 12th century to replace a 9th century Carolingian edifice built on the foundations of a 5th century Roman church. Bishop Guillaume fortified the cathedral's precincts and provided it with a 35 meter donjon. The Romanesque cloister of the cathedral was demolished in 1857.
Cap d'Agde is one of the largest leisure ports on the French Mediterranean. Development as a tourist resort started in the 1970s before which time the only buildings at the Cap were small houses typically used for weekends by local people. The Musée de l'Ephèbe houses the bronze nude statue known as "l'Ephèbe d'Agde" (English: the Youth of Agde). The statue was discovered in the River Hérault and was housed in the Louvre Museum prior to suitable facilities being made available in Cap d'Agde to house it. Cap d'Agde has a large family-style naturist resort with about 40,000 visitors on a daily basis during high season and around 250 to 350,000 during the entire season. The Village Naturiste is a large enclosed area at the north-eastern edge of Cap d'Agde, although it is accessible along the public beach from the east, it is a self-contained town sometimes referred to as the "Naked City". Nudity is legal and common in the whole resort, including in its restaurants and shops during both day and night. In the evening, when it gets colder, more people are dressed, sometimes in more revealing clothes. A local tourist tax is charged per person per day. The Naturist Village is a town by itself, with a 2 kilometer or 1 mile long beach with a large marina, 2,500 pitch campsite, apartment complexes, hotel, shops, restaurants, night clubs, bars, post office and a bank with ATM machines. Launderettes, hairdressers and other facilities for tourists comprise all the 180 businesses in the village. One can potentially spend an entire vacation without leaving the area or wearing any clothing. Germany’s Andre Greipel claimed his third victory of the 2012 Tour de France as Bradley Wiggins of Britain held on to the yellow jersey at the end of the 13th stage which finished at Capd’Agde.
The land adjoining the long sandy beach at Cap d'Agde was owned for many years by the Oltra family who farmed the olive groves behind the sand dunes adjoining the beach. After the Second World War the brothers Oltra noticed that people were coming in increasing numbers to camp on their land, and that many of these people liked to bathe and to sunbathe in the nude. The Oltra brothers began to formalise arrangements for campers on their land, and this subsequently led to the creation of the Oltra Club which is a caravanning and camping resort. The camp grew increasingly popular, especially with young families. German and Dutch tourists were particularly numerous. In the early 1970s the government of Georges Pompidou drew up plans for the development of the Languedoc-Roussillon coastline. Naturism initially had no part in these proposals, but Rene Oltra, one of the brothers, persuaded the authorities to include plans for a naturist resort at Cap d'Agde. In 1973 the beach was officially designated as a naturist beach. Regulations for the new resort were also promulgated so that the Naturist Village would be a place where voyeurs and exhibitionists would not be tolerated. The first developments were at Port Nature and Port Ambonne where flats, shops and pools were constructed. Later, Heliopolis and Port Venus were built and Port Nature was considerably extended. The flats were sold and the owners often rented them out to others when they were not staying in them. The Naturist Village became a controlled zone during the season with regulated access. Everyone entering was informed of the regulations and required to comply with them.
By the early 1980s, the Naturist Village was reaching the limit of its development. Many shops and commercial premises remained empty, ready for sale or rent. The election of the government of François Mitterrand was to herald a cooling off of the French economy which lasted well into the following decade. During this time the Naturist Village continued to prove a popular resort and it developed an easy and pleasant atmosphere. There were so many German visitors that the Post Office even had a designated postbox for letters and postcards being sent to Germany. The Naturist Village has rules requiring nudity as the norm, which ban photography, the wearing of provocative clothing and the display of indecent items. Signs on the beach in 2008 warned against lewd behaviour. There are clubs and smaller venues including shops and bars. The nightlife centers on clubs and entertainment venues. Many open only at certain times of the year. On 23 November 2008 the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, suggested fires at swingers' clubs were the work of nudist mullahs or fundamentalist nudists with a grudge against the echangistes or libertines. In 2009, Rene Oltra, the company which bears the name of the original promoter of the resort, required visitors to its campsite, villas and flats which it rents to belong to a naturist organisation. In December 2009 the local authority proposed to renovate making the village almost traffic free by constructing tree-lined walkways and promenades, a high-level promenade by the beach and a hotel with the work was to start in early 2012. Other plans include the renovation of buildings and the construction of new façades. The naturist village creates employment and revenue in a region of France less affluent than others. It creates income for the local authority through property taxes and admission prices.
The naturist beach, where nudity is technically mandatory, has a length of about 2 kilometers and is about 30 meters wide. Sand and water are of good quality and the weather is warm and sunny. Two security posts feature police and medical facilities. Lifeguards are on duty at several stations, during most of the day. Six restaurants border the southern end of the nude beach. Only one restaurant is available towards the northern end. Even though Cap d'Agde is in France, most of the service staff speak English. Heliopolis is the biggest and most prominent feature of Village Naturiste and is a 4 story round apartment complex with a diameter of around 250 meters or 820 feet located at the beach. Heliopolis has a shopping area with a supermarket at the ground floor. It has approximately 800 apartment units that can accommodate 2, 4, and 6 people. Built to Le Corbusier principles, the arc-shaped buildings contained an open center with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and play areas. In 2005, the local authority, the Mairie d'Agde, granted planning permission for the construction of a large libertine complex in the center of Heliopolis which resulted in the destruction of the swimming pool and the open space. The marina has about 60 berths for boats up to 17 meters or 56 feet long plus a little boat yard. Le Cap D'Agde has for many years been a favourite holiday haunt of the French, however, many outside of France may not be familiar with it. Le Cap D'Agde, in the Languedoc Roussillon area of Southern France, is situated next to the town of Agde, and the fishing port of Grau D'Agde, which is where the Herault River and the Canal Du Midi join the Mediterrean Sea.
There is plenty to do in and around Agde as the Langudoc Roussillon region offers great diversity: pine forests, lakes, ports, vineyards, sea and rivers. Agde is one of the oldest towns in France and its' narrow streets are really charming offering lots of shopping opportunities in small boutiques situated in them. Grau D'Agde is a typical Mediterrean fishing village where everything is centred around the fishing, and the broad beach right by the jetty. Le Cap D'Agde is a purpose built resort, based around manmade harbour, port and marina. The resort boast three ports, with a combination of over 3000 boat berths. Traditional yacht sailing, deep sea diving, and other water pursuits are extremely popular. There are a large number of restaurants along with bars and shops situated all along the harbour, with great views of the marina itself. This part of Le Cap D'Agde really comes alive at night with many of the restaurants offering live music. From Cap d'Agde to La Tamarissière, 11 fine sandy beaches stretch out along the Mediterranean coast. Whether in their natural state or developed, they offer a wide range of scenery and activities under a resolutely blue sky. Le Cap D'Agde is particularly famous as home to the largest nudist colony in Europe, but it is only part of Cap D'Agde and not the entirety of the resort. With 267 days of sun per year the 14 kilometers of fine sand beaches are an invitation to bask on the shoreline, enjoy water sports, take long strolls or go scuba diving. The coastal dunes of Le Bagnas, La Roquille, Richelieu, and La Tamarissière are subject to regular protective measures. The sea bed at Cap d'Agde contains 2000 hectares of Posidonia fields benefiting from a protected status at the European level. It grows between a depth of 35 meters underwater up to the surface. It is one of the few underwater meadows of the Languedoc-Roussillon and an indispensable link in the food chain. It forms a habitat in which many fish species live and lay their eggs. It is an invaluable breeding ground which also shelters molluscs - the world's second biggest shell. That of the noble Pen shell which is a giant mussel that lives most often among the seagrass with its tip fixed in the sand.
La Tamarissière is a long beach, bordered by a two hundred year old pineforest. Le Grau d'Agde is very wide where it comes up against the jetty and always near the heart of the village of Le Grau d'Agde when the Municipal Sports Service organises free sporting activities there in July and August. Saint-Vincent is a small beach in a cove to the east of Le Grau d'Agde. Baie de l'Amitié : between Le Grau d'Agde and Le Cap d'Agde is a beach at the end of the Chemin des Dunes (English: Dunes Road) which offers a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere. Rochelongue Beach is directly accessible via the ramblas of the Mail de Rochelongue. It is long beach and its neighbour, the Richelieu Beach, are bordered by green spaces and the Municipal Sports Service organises free sporting activities there during July and August. Richelieu Beach is a very long wide beach bordered by green spaces and its seaside sand banks are a delight for children to play on. La Plagette Beach is a small beach in a picturesque setting just at the start of the cliff. Le Môle Beach is close to the center of Le Cap d'Agde and can be reached by pedestrian lanes. La Roquille Beach is a large beach that is a prolongation of the Môle Beach, widening eastwards. La Grande Conque is one of Cap d'Agde's most beautiful sites that possesses a legacy of volcanic activity. A creek dug out by the sea in the volcanic cliff hosts a small beach of black sand and the rocks Les deux Frères (English: the Two Brothers). The Agde volcano has poured out its lava amongst the white sands and endowed the landscape with a wealth of natural preserved beauty and this volcanic stone has been used in the buildings in Agde. The Naturist Beach is a large beach that is long and wide and the biggest asset of the Naturist Village. There is regulated access to this beach. There are, in total 7 equipped beaches thhat offer restaurants and nautical activities.
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