An article in the Daily Telegraph discusses how a seaside resort in the Province of Bordeaux in France brought to its knees the town council where it is situated. The locality is Grayan-et-l’Hôpital. Shops are closing down, and the population is dwindling because of a nudist beach resort. The reason for this population decline is not linked to the fact that this nudist beach is not attracting tourists. In truth, it attracts thousands of tourists every year. However, these tourists are not leaving any money in the town’s coffers — instead, those who got the concession set up all amenities. Consequently, all the small shops in town started running out of business. The nudists prefer to do all their shopping, if they want, even without clothes, from the resort outlets. As a result, the residents are now constrained to shop from the nudist resort but have been given the concession that they can shop with their clothes on!
The current mayor is accusing the previous mayors and administrators of colluding with the people in the business behind this concession. In return, these businessmen are now suing the mayor for slander. As it is said in Italian, tutto il mondo e’ paese.
Europe’s largest nudist camp received €9 million in unfair perks that have left the coffers of the French seaside town where it is situated bare, the new mayor has complained.
Florence Legrand, mayor of Grayan-et-l’Hôpital near Bordeaux, has filed a legal complaint for “bribery” against her predecessors for handing the alleged perks to Euronat, a vast nudist colony located on the pine dunes just outside her town.
While the camp is flourishing, her village – with a population of 1,500 – has seen its population dwindle and shops and restaurants shut one by one – down from seven to two in a decade.
Meanwhile Euronat, a sprawling camp over 830 acres founded in 1975, has 28 stores and houses 15,000 guests in the summer.
‘You have to want to see people stark naked’
The situation has got so bad that locals have reportedly been reduced to doing their shopping inside the camp.
“You have to want to see people stark naked,” one unnamed local woman told Le Parisien, adding that at least “we’re allowed to keep our clothes on”.
Ms Legrand has accused successive mayors of giving the camp a string of illicit breaks. The village had been under the same political party for the previous 75 years before her arrival last year.
Euronat’s annual rent to the town is €550,000, well below the new town hall’s estimate of €917,000. Ms Legrand contended that fake “charges” were added to bump up the figure.
In all, the town should have received €20.5 million since 1975, instead of the €14.5 million it was actually paid.
“These are sums that were lacking for the development of the town,” Ms Legrand said.
She also questioned why the former mayor inexplicably extended the lease of the land from 70 years to 99 years.
Bordeaux’s prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry into public officials illegally granting “an exemption or deduction of duties, contributions, taxes or public taxes in violation of legal or regulatory texts”.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a €500,000 fine.
The town’s lawyers said they hoped the probe would “determine how and why a private company was able to benefit from such largesse and seize the sovereignty of a municipality at a low price to the detriment of its citizens”.
The company denies any wrongdoing.
Jean-Michel Lorefice, the company’s director, said: “We have had 50 years of peaceful and normal relations with the preceding municipalities.”
He has filed for charges of slander, as has the former mayor who also denies wrongdoing.