Paris nudist restaurant to close for lack of customers

The first nudist restaurant in the French capital is being forced to close because it cannot put enough bums on seats. ‘‘O’Naturel’’ will draw the curtain on nude fine dining in Paris in February after a little over a year despite rave reviews from diners who shed their clothes to slurp oysters and feast on snails, foie gras and asparagus.

But to avoid financial embarrassment, twins Mike and Stephane Saada said they were having to close.

‘‘It is now or never,’’ they urged the curious

‘‘wanting to experience a last nude dinner in Paris’’ before they bring down the shutters on February 16. ‘‘We are counting on you to support us,’’ they wrote on Facebook.

‘‘We thank everyone for taking part in this adventure. We will remember the good moments and the great people we met.’’

The restaurant in the east of Paris opened amid a blaze of publicity in November 2017. Clothes must be left in the cloakroom along with mobile phones, to prevent people from sneaking a photo of other customers.

The diners are then provided with slippers although women — who make up 40% of the clientele, according to the managers — may keep their heels on.

O’Naturel  a play on the French phrase for naked — was seen as a sign that naturism was becoming ever more mainstream in a country which is the world’s top destination for nude tourism.

Four million people holiday ‘‘au naturel’’ in France every year. With a new summer nudist zone in Paris’ biggest park and naked standup comedy nights, activists did not hide their naked ambition to make further inroads for naturists.

Unlike the nude London restaurant The Bunyadi, which opened briefly in 2016, the Saada brothers keep their clothes on. ‘‘Our role is to put people at ease,’’ said Stephane, who insisted French law demanded they stay dressed.

‘‘As soon as customers enter the dining room, we accompany them to their table and we reassure them that it is not like the whole room is looking at them,’’ he said.

The restaurant’s black chair covers are discreetly changed between sittings, with diners shielded from prying eyes outside by a heavy white curtain.

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.