The Best Wild Swimming in France: 12 Most Beautiful Spots

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.

At the peak of summer in France, amidst the sweltering heat, the only thing you crave is to plunge into some refreshing cold water! And if that water happens to be sparkling clear, meandering through rock pools and cascading down waterfalls, that’s even better!

From secluded mountain lakes and rocky gorges to azure winding rivers, France boasts an abundance of breathtaking natural spots perfect for a refreshing dip.

Join us as we share practical information and the best wild swimming destinations across this picturesque country, where every plunge promises a moment of pure joy and connection with nature.

wild swimming in France

The Best Wild Swimming Spots in France

Wild Swimming Map

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Gorges du Verdouble, Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, Aude

  • Facilities: Toilet and in summer, food and ice cream kiosks.
  • Swimming: Supervised in summer.
  • Parking: There is a dedicated parking lot which costs € 7 per day and € 3 after 5pm.
  • Ease of Access: You need to be happy walking over boulders to get the best swimming areas. You would benefit from shoes designed for slippery surfaces here, and be cautious after rain as the rocks can get very slippery.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

Close to Peyrepertuse Castle on the Cathar Trail, Gorges du Verdouble is a stunning slim gorge with beautiful clear water and lots of different areas for swimming and jumping.

Made up of a small lake at the bottom of the Moulin de Ribaute waterfalls, you can swim in the lake or the many potholes created by the force of the water over millennia.

Walk around the large lake for the best spots and find a smooth rock to lay out on. Even on the hottest days, the water is very cold; the best tactic is just to jump in!  

You can also hike 4.9km to the Verdouble waterfalls by taking the marked Moulin de Ribaute trail, and you can even stop to swim on the way!

lady in a bikini jumping into a rocky pool of clear water

Is this your first time visiting France? Get all the information you need in our France Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Gorge de Galamus, Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, Aude

  • Facilities: Café and toilet at Parking No 2.
  • Swimming: Not supervised and not encouraged, but there are always people swimming!
  • Parking: There are four parking lots along the gorge, the best for wild swimming is parking no 2, where you can pick up the path down to the gorge.
  • Ease of Access: You need to be happy walking down a rocky track to get to the gorge, and proper water shoes are a must.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

One of the best places for wild swimming in the south of France, the Gorge de Galamus is blessed with crystal clear water, plunge pools, waterfalls, natural slides, and even natural jacuzzis. 

The gorge is well maintained but the narrow road to the gorge, with tunnels and overhanging rocks, can get very busy. There is a shuttle bus from Parking no 1 to Parking No 2 if you don’t want to drive the narrow road.

Galamus is a great place for canyoning, offered here in guided organized groups. It’s suitable for those with no experience and so much fun! Local companies offering canyoning trips include Nature Aventure and Oxygen Aventure.

There is also an abundance of hiking in the surrounding area, and the Ermitage Saint-Antoine de Galamus to visit.

RELATED POST: South of France Road Trip: Route, Highlights & Tips

emerald pool surrounded by rocks with people wearing wetsuits and helmets

Gorges d’Heric, Mons, Hérault

  • Facilities: Café, bar, and toilet in the car park.
  • Swimming: More lounging in potholes and pools along the gorge!
  • Parking: There is a large car park which costs €3.50 Motorhomes and campervans are allowed to stay overnight for €10 and there is a dump station and fresh water tap available.
  • Ease of Access: Easy to access, the road along the gorge is paved. Once you step off the road, you’ll be negotiating small slopes, boulders, and sand.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

In the Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Langeudoc is the stunning Gorge d’Heric. Here the Héric River rises to about 1,000 meters in altitude in the Espinousse mountain, part of the Massif du Caroux, to eventually plunge into the Orb River, creating the Gorge d’Heric as it goes. 

From the car park, it’s a 10 minute walk along the impressive gorge on a paved road until you reach the area with swimming spots, pools, waterfalls, and slides with the occasional small sandy beach.  

The water is clear and cool, but in some places, the water will warm nicely on a hot day.  No matter how busy the gorge is, you will be able to find somewhere private for your swim.  

You can also walk along the gorge for around 5km to reach the Pont d’Heric and the village of Heric. There are wild swimming opportunities along the whole route, some very secluded, meaning a bit of skinny dipping might be in order! In the village is a small café where you can get a cold drink and baguette for lunch.

From the car park, you can also hike the Sentier des Gardes to Col de Bartouyre on the western slope of Caroux. From the car park, you can also hike the Sentier des Gardes to Col de Bartouyre on the western slope of Caroux. It’s a challenging route but well worth the views of vast areas of unspoilt French countryside from the top.

RELATED POST: Off The Beaten Path France – 8 Unique Places

woman in a red bikini in a small natural pool surrouned by boulders and trees
Man in a t-shirt and shorts looking over a landscape of mountains and forests

Pont du Diable, Hérault

  • Facilities: Café, bar, shop, and toilet by the car park.
  • Swimming: Swimming from the beach is supervised every day between 11am and 7pm, from 1st July 1 to 31st August every year.
  • Parking: The Devil’s Bridge parking lot in Aniane costs €8 in high season and €4 in low season. There is a motorhome aire here with full services (not EHU) which costs €20 per day.
  • Ease of Access: Easy to access, the track from the car park to the beach, from where you can access the gorge, is well maintained.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

As the River Hérault comes rushing through its rocky narrow gorge and under the Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge) it slows and forms a small lake before moving on to the flat plains of Occitanie and eventually joining the Mediterranean Sea.   

There is a well-maintained river beach where there are kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and canoe rentals from Canoës du Pont du Diable, based on the beach, or just swim.  

Local youths throw themselves from the bridge (although this is strictly forbidden)and from rocks around the bridge. After watching for a bit, we scrambled up the rocks and did the same! The water is clear and cool …this is the perfect spot for wild swimming in France.

Local youths throw themselves from the bridge (although this is strictly forbidden)and from rocks around the bridge. After watching for a bit, we scrambled up the rocks and did the same! The water is clear and cool …this is the perfect spot for wild swimming in France.

man on a paddle board underneath an arched stone bridge

Other French Travel Ideas

Pont d’Arc, Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, Ardeche

  • Facilities: First Aid Post, toilets, and kayak hire in summer. There are also toilets and a restaurant by the car park.
  • Swimming: Supervised swimming in July and August from 12.30pm to 6.30pm every day on the upstream beach.
  • Parking: Dedicated parking at Pont d’Arc Meandre car park. It costs €10 for 3 hours during July and August, and payment is by coin or card at a machine. There is a height restriction of 1.9m in place. Or, park in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc and use the free shuttle bus.
  • Ease of Access: Easy to access, the track from the car park to the river beach is flat and graveled.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

Flowing through the picturesque Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the Ardèche River is a popular wild swimming spot. Renowned for clear waters fed by natural springs there are plenty of tranquil river beaches of the Ardèche, but Pont d’Arc is arguably the most famous.

Notable for the giant prehistoric arch that bridges the river, which also provides welcome shade on a sunny day and high canyon walls, this is a picture perfect place for wild swimming.

You can also hire kayaks on the beach (or bring your own) and paddle up or down river to find quieter spots.

If this spot is too busy for you, there are plenty of others along the river, including the Cirque de Gens in the Ardeche Gorges, the Labeaume Gorges, and the Chassezac Gorges.

Natural rocky arch over a shallow river flanked by beaches with people and river craft on them

Pont du Gard, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, Gard

  • Facilities: Toilets in both car parks and various restaurants, cafés, and bars around the site.
  • Swimming: Swimming from the beach is supervised every day between 11am and 7pm, from 1st July 1 to 31st August every year.
  • Parking: There is dedicated parking; Parking Rive Droit (the south) and Parking Rive Gauche (the north) plus roadside parking out of high season on the south side.
  • Ease of Access: Easy to access, the tracks from the car parks to the beach are well maintained.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends and school holidays. The best time to go on those days is after 5pm for an evening cool off.

Just beneath the iconic Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge near Uzes, lie a few rocky and sandy beaches bordered by the gentle flow of the cool River Gardon.

The Pont du Gard is a favored destination for wild swimming enthusiasts. The river offers a shallow depth, and during summer, its waters are a lovely temperature for a refreshing dip.

Against the breathtaking backdrop, one can effortlessly float toward the river’s center, marveling at the colossal Roman engineering masterpiece towering above as it reaches 50 meters over the River Gardon.

You’ll need to buy a ticket to access the beaches around the bridge as the whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It would be a shame not to visit the bridge after your swim!

multi-arched bridge over a clear pebbly river surrouned by vegetation

River Cèze, Montclus, Gard

  • Facilities: No facilities but there are cafés and toilets in the village.
  • Swimming: No supervision, make sure water levels aren’t too high before you enter the water.
  • Parking: There is dedicated parking for the village on the banks of the river. There is a small fee to pay, no more than a few euros.
  • Ease of Access: Easy to access and very close to the car park.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends during the summer months when the parking will be busy.

Deep in Languedoc-Roussillon, Montclus is a beautiful spot, one of France’s Plus Beau Villages. Surrounded by vineyards and lavender fields, the village and its river are a tranquil place to spend the day.

The River Cèze passes the village as it burbles over rocks and through deep pools, clear and inviting. There are a number of small pebbled river beaches from which you can swim, dip, and cool off on a hot day.  

Exploring Montclus won’t take too long! The village centre is made up of steep cobbled alleys lined with traditional stone houses and pretty views out across the countryside and river valley. In the centre is a 13th century castle with a square keep and high stone walls that’s well worth visiting.

historic stone village with a river flowing past it

Lac de St Croix, Var & Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

  • Facilities: There are cafés and toilets in and around the car park and also in the village.
  • Swimming: Simmer time supervision village of St Croix beaches only.
  • Parking: There is dedicated parking for the village beaches. For the Galetas Bridge beach, park a few hundred meters away in the bridge car park.
  • Ease of Access: The village beaches are easy to access and very close to their car parks. Galetas requires a little more effort.
  • Best Time to Visit: Avoid weekends during the summer months when the parking will be busy.

France has many artificial lakes, to store water and generate electricity and the Lac de St Croix in Provence is one of its largest. 

Head for the village of St Croix and follow the signs to the lake. There are a few river beaches and places for launching your kayak or SUP below the village. Another popular spot is Les Salles sur Verdon on the opposite side of the lake, or to get closer to the gorge, head for the beach at the foot of Galetas Bridge.

For a quieter experience, Bauduen Plage is on the lake’s southeast shore and has some good boulders for jumping and a good beach.

If you want to get into the Gorge du Verdon, which hosts the Verdon River, you’ll need to hire a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or day boat. Once in the gorge, with its steep-sided walls, you can take a dip from your craft.

Wherever you look, the scenery is simply stunning, and the water is a sparkling turquoise, warm and welcoming.

clear emerald lake with a windsurf and pebbly beach

Lac de Gaube, Cauterets, Hautes-Pyrenees

  • Facilities: There is a small hotel and a very dubious toilet at the end of the trail as you reach the lake.
  • Swimming: There is no supervision. People do ask if swimming is allowed in Gaube Lake, but there are no signs forbidding it. But, you are in a remote spot, so don’t take any risks if you’re not a confident swimmer.
  • Parking: There is parking at the trailhead at Pont d’Espagne, where the cable car also departs and arrives.
  • Ease of Access: The hike is moderately easy and the cable car and chair lift will take you a 15 minute walk from the lake.
  • Best Time to Visit: Go any time, Lac de Gaube is huge and although you’ll meet people there in the summer, it never feels crowded.

The distinctive Lac de Gaube in the Parc National des Pyrenees is one of the most beautiful lakes in France, surrounded by towering mountains and alpine meadows.

It is hikeable or accessible by cable car and chairlift and has plenty of great places where you can get in for a dip. The lake is gorgeous shades of emerald and turquoise, with the rocks visible well into the deep. But be warned, it’s cold even in summer – you are at 1725m above sea level!

RELATED POST: Lac de Gaube – A Breathtaking French Pyrenees Hike

mountain lake surrounded by forested peaks

Lac d’Ilay, La Chaux-du-Dombief, Jura

  • Facilities: There are no facilities at the lake. There are toilets and cafés in both Dombief and Le Frasnois.
  • Swimming: There is no supervision here.
  • Parking: Head for Parking Nord du lac d’Ilay, a free car park where you can also stay overnight in a campervan.
  • Ease of Access: Easy access, it’s a few minutes walk along a flat track.
  • Best Time to Visit: Go any time, Lac de Gaube is huge and although you’ll meet people there in the summer, it never feels crowded.

Well off the beaten track in the Jura region lies a chain of glittering azure lakes. Hidden gems in their own right, they offer serene settings ideal for a refreshing swim.

Lac d’Ilay is the largest and shallowest, boasting warm waters and a grassy shore leading to a sandy beach. Adjacent, Lac de Narlay has a lakeside campsite and a secluded cliff spot perfect for daring jumps and dives.

We would recommend the northern end of the lake as a good spot, where you can park and take a short walk along a track to a chain of small beaches that line this end of the lake. Many of the spots are just big enough for a few people, so get there early if you’re planning on spending the day.

RELATED POST: France Road Trip – 13 Amazing Itineraries/#route-des-lacs

Pale turquoise lake with wooded hills and green fishing boat

Lac d’Annecy, Annecy, Haute-Savoie

  • Facilities: Many of Annecy’s beaches have great facilities, but all are different so check first.
  • Swimming: Some beaches have supervised swimming in summer, check first if this is important.
  • Parking: There is good parking all around the lake and near lakeside beaches.
  • Ease of Access: Usually access to Lac d’Annecy beaches is easy.
  • Best Time to Visit: Go in summer for the best water temperatures. Outside of the summer months, you may need a wetsuit.

Lake Annecy, the second largest lake in France, has a reputation as being the cleanest lake in Europe which makes it a great spot for wild swimming.

During the peak summer months of July and August, the water temperature of Lake Annecy can reach around 24° Celcius | 75° Fahrenheit, and the water stays warm well into September and October.

There are too many beaches around Lake Annecy to list here, but suffice to say, whatever your needs there’s a beach here that’s perfect for you!

wooden pier into a clear lake with mountains in the background

River Tarn, Cevennes

  • Facilities: Most of Tarn’s river beaches have no facilities, relying on local towns and villages for services.
  • Swimming: These beaches are not supervised.
  • Parking: There is usually parking in the nearby village or along the roadside nearby.
  • Ease of Access: If you’re using a village beach, access is usually good, but some of the more remote beaches may require a hike and trails may not be well maintained.
  • Best Time to Visit: Go in summer for the best water temperatures and seek out peaceful places away from the drowds.

In the mountains of the Cévennes, you are in the wild heart of Southern France. The Tarn River flows through breathtaking gorges and around river beach bends providing many opportunities for wild swimming.  There are an abundance of good places to get your toes into the water, but these are our favorites:

Castelbouc: Perched precariously against the cliffside of the Tarn gorge, this quaint village offers proximity to the river beach.

Cocurès: A stunning stretch of deep water river gorge awaits, complete with opportunities for exhilarating jumps and flat rocks perfect for sunbathing.

Cascade de Runes: Nestled in a beautiful setting along the upper Tarn, this picturesque double waterfall cascades into inviting pools, creating a serene retreat.

Le-Pont-de-Montvert: Near the heart of the village lies a gouffre, or chasm, brimming with emerald waters, beckoning visitors to its tranquil depths.

Les Détroits: Within this narrower section of the gorge, towering cliffs cast shadows over deep waters, providing a dramatic backdrop to your swimming session.

Cascade de Tapoul: Tucked away, this remote waterfall unveils its beauty through deep plunge pools, offering a peaceful spot for a wild swim.

Bonheur Pools: Emerging from underground caves, the deep-blue waters of these polished granite pools provide a refreshing oasis on a hot day.

winding river through a gorge past a small village

If you’re looking for more wild swimming spots in France, the second edition of Wild Swimming France: 1000 Most Beautiful Rivers, Lakes, Waterfalls, Hot Springs and Natural Pools of France by Tania Pascoe and Daniel Start is a brilliant buy!


Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these top posts…

things to do in Spain

Fall in Love with Spain: 20 of Our Favorite Things to See & Do

Looking for the best things to do in Spain? There is so much to do and see in this amazing country beyond going to the beach and sipping cheap cocktails. With dramatic mountains, charming old towns, and an endless list of UNESCO-sites worth visiting, you could spend a lifetime exploring this intriguing country. These are our personal favorite things to do in Spain – places to see, activities to experience and a few adventures too!…
Read More Fall in Love with Spain: 20 of Our Favorite Things to See & Do
things to do in Belgium

Road Trip Belgium: Fall In Love With Europe’s Hidden Gem

Belgium is a fantastic destination for a road trip, offering plenty of historic, culinary, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in exploring medieval cities, savoring delicious food, or visiting ancient castles, Belgium has something for everyone. Our Belgium road trip guide has info on top destinations and activities, plus a few hidden gems too. Plan your perfect Belgium road trip itinerary and fall in love with this small country that has so much to see and do!
Read More Road Trip Belgium: Fall In Love With Europe’s Hidden Gem
driving in Albania

Driving in Albania: Essential Tips for an Amazing Trip

Albania, with its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is an increasingly popular destination for adventurous travelers. A road trip in Albania offers a unique way to explore the country’s breathtaking coastlines, charming villages, and rugged mountains at your own pace. However, navigating the roads here can be quite different from what you might be used to. To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable journey, our guide for driving in Albania has all the…
Read More Driving in Albania: Essential Tips for an Amazing Trip
things to do in Nafplio

One Perfect Day in Nafplio: Top Attractions & Hidden Gems

Tucked away on Greece’s mainland but close enough to Athens to be worth a road trip, beautiful Nafplio is a historic Greek city in the northeast Peloponnese. What really draws people to Nafplio is the array of interesting things to do. We’ve put together some of the best things to do in Nafplio, along with some amazing day trips. Use it as your base for exploring the Greek mainland, or pop here for a day…
Read More One Perfect Day in Nafplio: Top Attractions & Hidden Gems

Love it? Pin it!

France wild swimming guide
wild swimming in France guide
Scroll to Top