Dine in the nude in Paris

PARIS • There is no need to dress up for a night out in this eatery. In fact, you have to undress before you are led to your table.

Called O'naturel, this Paris restaurant has begun serving classic French fare to diners in the nude. Located in a quiet side street in south-west Paris, the place, billed as the French capital's first nudist restaurant, is the brainchild of 42-year-old twins Mike and Stephane Saada.

Former insurance salesmen, they are not nudists, but spotted a money-making opportunity in a country that enjoys a reputation as a top naturist holiday destination. "People get to be nudists only in the summer," said Stephane.

O'naturel is considerably warmer this month than the roughly 460 designated outdoor nudist spots around France, most of them beaches and campsites. The capital trialled a nudist area in its Bois de Vincennes park last month while Parisians can swim in the buff several times a week at a public pool.

Mr Yves Leclerc, president of the French Naturist Federation, was thrilled at the idea of being able to strip off for dinner.

"We're in the heart of Paris and we're eating naked. It's surreal," he said, sitting at one of the restaurant's 20 tables.

"It's like when we're on holiday, but it's even better."

The restaurant, which opened earlier this month, is the latest in a series of nude eateries to pop up around the world, from London to Tokyo.

O'naturel has a minimalist decor and a menu of upmarket French bistro cuisine - lobster, foie gras and snails with parsley cream sauce - at €49 (S$78) for three courses.

A white curtain over the windows shields diners from gawpers outside.

Clothes must be left in the cloakroom along with mobile phones to prevent people from sneaking a photo of their fellow customers.

The diners are provided with slippers to wear. But women - who make up 40 per cent of the clientele, according to the managers - may keep their heels on. The black chair covers are discreetly changed between sittings.

"Our role is to put people at ease," said Stephane. "As soon as they enter the dining room, we accompany them to their table and we reassure them that it's not like the whole room is looking at them."

The only fabrics visible in the room are the tablecloths, napkins and clothes of the two managers, who also serve as waiters.

Under the law, the Saada brothers insist, they have to be dressed - unlike at nude London restaurant The Bunyadi which opened briefly last year, where the staff were topless.

Five young men sat down at a table, laughing at one another, before recovering from their giggles as they inspected the menu.

Mr Jimmy Denis, a 28-year-old soldier, admitted that he had been "a bit apprehensive" ahead of the dinner and said he was grateful that the restaurant was warm.

The eatery is open only for dinner, strictly by reservation.

Stephane said he and his brother try to stop "bad surprises" from the wrong type of guest.

"We might reject someone or explain to him that if he is looking to hook up, he should go somewhere else," he added.

His brother Mike chipped in: "Nudity doesn't have to mean sexuality."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2017, with the headline 'Dine in the nude in Paris'. Print Edition | Subscribe