Meet the Dutch naturist couple who have finally found their place in the sun in France.
When Bouwe and Tessa de Jong took the decision to quit the rat race in Amsterdam and set off in search of a suitable location in France in which to establish a naturist holiday venue, they hadn’t planned on it taking them over two years. Or, for that matter, viewing over 150 potential properties.
But their experiences highlight the fact that if you are looking for your ideal place in the sun - and have very definite ideas about what you want - it can take time, patience and an unwillingness to settle for second-best.
Time was certainly on their side: still in their forties, theirs was a change-of-lifestyle decision, not a retirement plan, so they felt no need to make a quick decision that they might later regret. Patience, as we all know, is a virtue. And with set criteria for their vision of an idyllic spot in which they and their guests could totally unwind in naked seclusion, they had always known exactly what they were looking for.
And now, at Moulin de Chez Joyeux in the Limousin region of south-central France, they seem to have found it.
“We started with the basic premise,” explains Bouwe: “a guesthouse for the ultimate peace seeker who goes on holiday without children, without dogs and without clothes. We have always loved France, and as we worked on the principle that the majority of our guests, at least in the early days, will be from the Netherlands, it is only a day’s drive. After that, we began to list our requirements: a pleasant climate, natural water, a house with a minimum of 5 bedrooms, at least 2 acres of land, and a location at least 500 metres from the nearest neighbours.”
It sounds simple enough, especially in a country as large as France, and with so much space. And on at least two occasions, Bouwe and Tessa were on the verge of signing on the dotted line until last-minute legal hitches thwarted their plans. “It was incredibly frustrating,” says Tessa, “but you have to be philosophical and accept that maybe these things happen for a reason.”
It was third time lucky however when they finally came to complete on the purchase of their dream property, comprising two houses and a swimming pool, situated on either side of a quiet river. Now open (summer 2015) to welcome guests in a one-bedroom apartment, additional rooms will be available from Spring 2016 onwards.
It will have been quite a journey. Naturists for over 20 years, the couple have always enjoyed clothes-free vacations, and following cuts in the Dutch arts budgets which saw them both lose their jobs with the Dutch Ballet Orchestra Het Balletorkest - Bouwe as a timpanist and Tessa as the orchestra’s marketing manager - they decided to turn their interest in the naturist lifestyle into their vocation.
“When looking for places to spend our holidays in the past,” says Bouwe, “we often had difficulty in finding places in which you could totally unwind, especially in the height of the summer season. Naturist resorts were often crowded, many naturist beaches were taken over by textiles, and whilst we love children, even the best behaved can sometimes be a disruptive influence. That’s why we have decided to make our venue for adults-only, and why we wanted a peaceful, rural location. We know how frantic people’s daily lives can be, and how important it is to be able to totally switch off on holiday. If you have a picturesque location, comfortable accommodation, good food and wine, sunshine, peace and quiet, and no need to wear clothes, what more do you need?”
Bouwe and Tessa are far from being ‘back-to-nature’ impractical dreamers however, and will be keen to ensure that their holiday idyll will be professionally-run. Bouwe is an enthusiastic and experienced cook, and Tessa a talented photographer, whilst Tessa’s marketing abilities will be invaluable in promoting the new venture. Having spent time as workaways in a variety of naturist venues during their French odyssey, the couple also know exactly what to expect having now opened their own. They have also conducted extensive research, through online surveys and social networking, to find out what other naturists are looking for, and have built up an impressive database of target clients.
Initially offering accommodation and meals to singles, couples and small groups of family or friends, they will branch out into running courses and workshops, covering such subjects as cookery, photography and of course music.
“In time,” explains Tessa, “we might even look at staging musical performances and small concerts, which could extend the opportunities for business outside of our currently-planned seven-month season. But that’s for the future. At the moment, we are happy to be focusing on opening for business - at long last.”