In Physiopolis, life was better in the buff. Or at least in a bikini, which was as close as one could legally get to public nudity in 1930s Paris. It was here, on an isolated sun-baked island on the Seine, that a titillating new naturiste-nudiste (naturalist and nude) movement sprang forth. Gone were the days of staying indoors to achieve a porcelain complexion like an Edwardian era prude. “The colour of health,” declared the founders of Physiopolis, was henceforth “found in shades of bronze,” and perfected through diet and exercise regimens to stimulate mind, body and soul…
The nudiste-naturaliste movement was born in the inter-war period, from the brains of Parisian doctors André and Gaston Durville. The two brothers and collaborators shared a passion for the occult sciences inherited by their father, a pioneer of magnetic healing theories and “Egyptology”. In 1911, Gaston co-launched The Experimental Psychic Review to explore the medical healing potential of magnetism, hypnotism, psychology, mediums, and more, while André was busy presenting his research, “The Effects of Thinking on the Phenomena of Cellular Nutrition”. By the 1920s, they decided it was time to combine their strengths into the ultimate holistic health publication: Naturalism: the Great Magazine of Human Culture.
The zine’s pages were filled with lyrical tips on sunbathing, stretching, and the benefits of dropping one’s trousers. “Human skin wasn’t intended for the stuffy confinement of clothes,” they decreed, “nor to feel shy when it comes to physical activity, exploring movement, or feeling a gust of wind”. The public’s interest was officially piqued.
With the success of their magazine, the Durville brothers set up shop at 15 Cimarosa street in the 16th arrondissement (a private residence by the looks of it today). There were labs for radiology, electrocardiography, bacterial and chemical analyses – all in all, a very well-equipped centre that grew popular with curious Parisians. Most admirably, the brothers made sure their services were accessible to all, and made every Sunday a free day at the clinic.
Soon their clients craved more; a place to live out everything they’d learned in the fresh air, as nature intended. The little island of Platais, just a stone’s throw from Paris, was just the place…
In 1928, it was re-baptised, “Physiopolis” by the Durvilles, who created little bungalows along a total of 11 hectares on the southern and northern tip. Their official insignia was a muscular figure saluting the sun, and the cornerstones of their doctrine proposed the integration of four interconnected “cures”: The Food Cure, The Skin Cure, The Muscular Cure, and The Moral Cure.
Source: Messy Nessy
Original publication 10 May, 2019
Posted on NatCorn 6th April 2021
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