The word naturism was used for the first time in 1778 by a Belgian doctor, Dr Planchon, who used it as the title for his work on the laws of nature. In 1930, doctors Gaston and André Durville developed the concept of naturism in France, claiming that naturism had therapeutic powers and creating centres which used naturism as a medical treatment.
However, the French Federation of Naturism (FFN) was not founded until 1950.
In 1974, an international definition of naturism was adopted, stating that "Naturism is a way of living in harmony with nature. It is characterised by a practice of nudity with others which aims to promote self-respect, respect for others and respect for the environment."
Since 1983 the naturist movement has been recognised as a "movement for youth and popular education" by the Ministry for Youth and Sports.
Naturism is a modern movement which promotes respect for oneself, for others and for nature. It focuses on two fundamental notions - harmony with nature and group nudity. By emphasising a complete separation between nudity and sexuality, it gives nudity a convivial and liberating quality. Being nude in a group with others in unspoilt natural surroundings is a way of releasing complexes and accepting differences, even handicaps.
Helping mankind to readapt to nature results in an increased respect for nature, which extends to a respect for others. Accepting one's body, tolerating differences, protecting the planet and rediscovering a healthy and simple way of life are all an important part of naturism.
France is the world's leading naturist destination with the largest number of naturist centres, including holiday villages, hotels and campsites.