EUROPE: Heliomania on the Med

Sun worshipers are overloading the spas and the sea

They are off. Not out of their minds exactly but driven, obsessed. There are at least 25 million of them right now, mostly prosperous Western Europeans, huddled like refugees on the packed fringes of the Mediterranean. They are taking part in a ritual, exercising a civil right, and in the process hungrily consummating a winter's yearnings. The summer vacation season is upon them, draining the gray, rainy cities of the north, flooding the beaches of Spain's Costa del Sol, France's Côte d'Azur, Italy's Capri...

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