For wild swimming, France offers up a whole host of options all over the country, from fresh rivers to mountain lakes, and from dramatic waterfalls to turquoise pools. Here are the top eight epic places for wild swimming in France.
Cascades du Sautadet
Located near La-Roque-sur-Cèze village, labeled as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Cascades du Sautadet are a series of incredible waterfalls formed by the Ceze river. Strong currents are formed by the waterfalls and so swimming is recommended in the calmer waters a little away from the waterfalls. Cascades du Sautadet is classed as a natural area, so make sure you head to the public left bank as the right bank is private.
Lac d’Ilay is a natural glacial lake in the Jura department of France covering an area of around 72 hectares. It has the most idyllic turquoise waters with a little island in its center. Undulating hills form an attractive backdrop and given its vast size, even in high season, it’s a fairly tranquil spot. Swimming isn’t supervised here, so you completely feel like you’re at one with nature.
This is a really special spot in France. Straddling the Ardèche River, this natural bridge sees thousands of adventure lovers pass under its arch each year. If kayaking or hiking aren’t your scene, the banks on the Ardèche River make for the perfect cast-off spot for swimming. Another favourite area other than the Pont d’Arc on the same river is in the shadows of Balazuc village.
Lac d’Annecy has some of the purest waters in Europe and can reach 26 °C during the summer months. Bathing is, of course, on the cards, but if you’re after something more active, there is water skiing, windsurfing, diving and more. The old town of Annecy is to the north of the lake and the perfect place to make as your base during your exploration of the region.
Pont du Diable
There are lots of super swimming spots in the Languedoc, and one of them is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Pont du Diable (Devil’s bridge). Except for the stones, you’ll feel like you’re at a beach on the Mediterranean when wading through the waters. But when you look up, you’ll see rugged, hilly peaks punctuating the sky. Whilst there, don’t miss the other UNESCO World Heritage site in the area, the beautiful village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.
Lac de Gaube
Located in the Pyrenees is this magnificent lake with even more stunning backdrops. Even though it lies in a remote location, Lac de Gaube is very accessible and is often used as the starting point for a lot of the long-distance hiking routes that weave up into the mountain range. There is even a little cafe on the banks of the lake, with, as you can imagine, the most incredible views. Perfect for an after-swim refreshment.
A scenic (but incredibly small, so not for the faint-hearted) road takes you to this incredible spot in the South of France. It’s called balcony road, being that it hangs over the landscape. The green waters look striking against the white rocks, and at varying points throughout this stretch of water you’ll pass by kayakers and rock climbers. With potholing being a popular sport in this area, just make sure you know your route back up when descending into each mini canyon.
Clue d’Aiglun, Sallagriffon, France
Sillans-la-Cascade almost looks like a fantasy. So magical is this waterfall that the nearby village was named after it. The water is usually pretty nippy but provides a refreshing dip nonetheless, especially if visited during the summer months. If you’re not too keen on swimming, then there are amble hiking trails around the village and waterfalls to take in the beautiful scenery.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.