The thing to remember about wild swimming is that it’s unsupervised and you are at your own risk. Be sensible; never go alone, always take a phone and always have water and snacks to hand, as well as a towel and a spare change of clothes in a waterproof bag. Remember that wild swimming places are off the beaten track so you’ll need practical footwear. Sometimes hiring a kayak is the best way to go, because it lets you travel fast to the best spots, you can carry your stuff in them and more people generally use the same route. Wild swimming is a wonderful way to see parts of France that (most) other people don’t see but be prepared to walk a little and make a little more effort to get the wonderful rewards. Enjoy!
The Romans built the Pont-du-Gard acqueduct around 19 BC to carry water from a river in Uzès to Nîmes and it’s worth visiting, but the best part is being able to swim in the river directly below it (or kayak). It can get very crowded in summer (there’s a well-hidden campsite adjacent) and you’ll need to pay for parking unless you want to walk for about an hour. It is well worth the effort though. The water isn’t very deep so it’s perfect for kids or for just floating on your back and watching the kayaks come past. There isn’t much in the way of conveniences nearby, so take everything you’ll need with you, including lots of water and snacks. It’s stunning on lazy summer days with a picnic and a towel.
The river canyon of Verdon is famous for its beautiful turquoise colour and is immensely popular for everyone who lives in the surrounding area. It’s 700 metres deep and 25 kilometres long and flows out into the wonderful man-made Lake of Sainte-Croix (which was created when a dam was built to provide electricity to the local population in the 1970s). You can kayak down the river through the winding ravines or park up at any side of the huge lake (it’s 22 kilometres squared). Either go it alone — and pick a spot without many other people around — or choose the main area at the exit of the gorges (where there is an ice cream truck and you can hire pedaloes with slides, which are great fun). Head to the nearby town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for dinner, which is built into the side of the mountain and shouldn’t be missed either.