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Food in the nude: Paris gets its first naked restaurant

Now you know where to go if you want to eat a slap up meal in the nude in Paris.

Food in the nude: Paris gets its first naked restaurant
Photo: Woman with Jelly Candy/Depositphotos

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The restaurant is appropriately named O’naturel and can be found on rue de Gravelle in the 12th arrondissement.

And it's opening to the public on Friday, after what the managers considered to be a successful soft opening on Thursday, reported Le Parisien newspaper.

“Tonight, we only had the members of the Paris Naturist Association. They’ve supported us from the beginning, and we reserved our first soirée for them,” restaurant manager Mike and Stephane Saada told the paper.

Photo: O’naturel/restaurant website

The pair added that the association members were happy with the experience.

Diners at the restaurant, which can seat 40 and where a meal costs around €30, are asked to leave all their clothes in the wardrobe before entering the dining room. 

And neighbours – intrigued at first – appear to be welcoming the idea. 

“It doesn’t bother me at all, or my neighbours,” a man called Mehdi told the paper.

“We don’t see anything from the street. We know what’s happening. It’s not a massage parlour.”

It remains unclear whether Parisians will have an appetite for nude dining, but the naturist scene in the French capital is positively booming. Indeed, the Bunyadi nudist restaurant, which has proven popular in London, was also reportedly eyeing Paris for its second restaurant. 

And in August this year, Paris officials opened the city’s first nudism park, tucked away in a secluded area of the Bois des Vincennes to the east of the city.

It closed for the winter in mid-October.

Paris just opened its first nudist park

File photo of a nudist hike: AFP

Parisians already have one public pool where they can swim in the buff three times a week, and across the country some 460 areas are reserved for naked enjoyment, including 155 camping sites and 73 beaches.

More than 2.6 million people in France have made nudism a regular habit, according to the France 4 Naturism association.

Indeed, the French are no strangers to nudity. For a start they have a tendency to get naked when protesting, as these images show.
 
Last year, French tourist officials went as far as urging Brits to come to experience the nudist sides of France for a holiday. 
 
“People are seeing a new side of France – everyone knows about the wine, the gastronomy, the winter skiing, the city breaks, but this is a bit more unusual,” the campaign's spokesperson told The Local at the time.
 
“It's not often you hear a friend say 'I'm going to a nudist beach for my next holiday'. The whole idea is still a bit peculiar.”
 
 

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FOOD & DRINK

Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

One thing everyone can agree on is that France has a lot of cheese - but exactly how many French fromages exist?

Reader question: Exactly how many different types of cheese are there in France?

Question: I often see a quote from Charles de Gaulle talking about ‘246 different types of cheese’, but other articles say there are 600 or even 1,000 different types of cheese and some people say there are just eight types – how many different cheeses are there in France?

A great question on a subject dear to French hearts – cheese.

But it’s one that doesn’t have a simple answer.

Charles de Gaulle did indeed famously say “How can anyone govern a country with 246 different types of cheese”, but even in 1962 when he uttered the exasperated phrase, it was probably an under-estimate.

READ ALSO 7 tips for buying cheese in France

The issue is how you define ‘different’ types of cheese, and unsurprisingly France has a complicated system for designating cheeses.

Let’s start with the eight – there are indeed eight cheese ‘families’ and all of France’s many cheeses can be categorised as one of;

  • Fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese or the soft white fromage blanc
  • Soft ripened cheese, such as Camembert or Brie
  • Soft ripened cheese with a washed rind, such as l’Epoisses or Pont l’Eveque
  • Unpasturised hard cheese such as Reblochon or saint Nectaire
  • Pasturised hard cheese such as Emmental or Comté
  • Blue cheese such as Roquefort 
  • Goat’s cheese
  • Melted or mixed cheese such as Cancaillot

But there are lots of different types of, for example, goat’s cheese.

And here’s where it gets complicated, for two reasons.

The first is that new varieties of cheese are constantly being invented by enterprising cheesemakers (including some which come about by accident, such as le confiné which was created in 2020).

The second is about labelling, geography and protected status.

France operates a system known as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC or its European equivalent AOP) to designate food products that can only be made in a certain area.

As cheese is an artisan product, quite a lot of different cheese are covered by this – for example a blue sheep’s milk cheese is only Roquefort if it’s been aged in the caves in the village of Roquefort.

There are 63 listed AOC cheeses in France, but many more varieties that don’t have this protected status.

These include generic cheese types such as BabyBel and other cheeses that are foreign in origin but made in France (such as Emmental).

But sometimes there are both AOC and non-AOC versions of a single cheese – a good example of this is Camembert.

AOC Camembert must be made in Normandy by farmers who have to abide by strict rules covering location, milk type and even what their cows eat.

Factory-produced Camembert, however, doesn’t stick to these rules and therefore doesn’t have the AOC label. Is it therefore the same cheese? They’re both called Camembert but the artisan producers of Normandy will tell you – at some length if you let them – that their product is a totally different thing to the mass-produced offering.

There are also examples of local cheeses that are made to essentially the same recipe but have different names depending on where they are produced – sometimes even being on opposite sides of the same Alpine valley is enough to make it two nominally different cheeses.

All of which is to say that guessing is difficult!

Most estimates range from between 600 to 1,600, with cheese experts generally saying there are about 1,000 different varieties. 

So bonne dégustation!

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