Summer’s finally here and temperatures are rising. We at Frenchly are thinking about a summer of swimming because experts are predicting that this summer will be extra hot so we’ve put together a list of the best places to take a refreshing respite. With such varied landscapes, France offers an array of distinct places to take enjoy a dip in the water and spend an afternoon au soleil. From the seaside to lakes, rivers, and more, France has a collection of stunning watering holes. Pack your crème solaire, grab a maillot de bain and dive in!
We love the Seine for summer picnicking and a trip on the vedettes, but we often forget that it’s also a swimmable river (in some parts.) Every summer, the banks of the Seine and the Bassin de la Villette are transformed into seaside resorts. Paris Plages offers free relaxation and leisure areas to Parisians and visitors during the heat of summer. Fresh lawns, parasols, deckchairs, palm trees, cultural and sporting activities, but also swimming: everything is there to cool off and enjoy sunny days. And don’t forget that in the heat of the summer the Canal Saint-Martin turns into a swimming hole and those who are the bravest jump off the bridge into the water below.
Annecy, located in Haute-Savoie, might be France’s most athletic city, and water sports are a huge hit. Lac d’Annecy is a beautiful, crystalline mountain lake with designated ‘beach’ areas as well as rentals including boats, water skis, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, and more. Take your pick and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
The Dordogne is a river in south-central and southwest France. Take a kayak or canoe out onto the river and enjoy the views of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The ride is accompanied by breathtaking scenery on the banks of the river including the picturesque villages like Beynac, La Roque Gageac and Domme as well as local flora and fauna near Bergerac. But if you’re not much into active water sports, some parts of the river also welcome river cruises.
Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon is a great spot for wild swimming. The Canyon is about 25 kilometers long and up to 700 meters deep. You can rent a canoe and paddle along the River Verdon to find a secluded river beach or cove just for yourself. Its turquoise blue waters are truly amazing.
The Tarn is a 380.2-kilometer-long river in the region of Occitania in southern France, near Toulouse. The river has created an array of beautiful canyons with towering bridges, hills, and Gothic architecture. Take up a paddleboard on the calm river and enjoy the views. You can also spread out your beach towel at the foot of Sainte-Enimie or Saint-Chély-du-Tarn and indulge in a leisurely swim at the rim of the river.
Château des Arpentis
This French castle features a sprawling pool for those looking to get away from their royal duties. The Château des Arpentis is built in the village of Saint-Regle, an old fief of Château d’Amboise. It is surrounded by a moat from the 17th century and is erected at the bottom of a hill, not far from the Lamasse stream. This is the perfect place for a giant pool party with all of your friends and family.
Dune du Pilat
Europe’s tallest sand dune is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and an enormous pine forest on the Arcachon Bay. While the Dune is already a huge attraction of its own, the ocean that washes up upon its shores has perfectly refreshing waves. Find a warm spot on the sand and check out the paragliders taking off from the dunes.
Cascades du Sautadet
The Cascades du Sautadet are a series of spectacular waterfalls formed by the Ceze river that you can swim in near Avignon in Southern France. It’s a great stop for a day trip, away from the bustling hot cities. The expanse offers no shade from sunlight, so bring plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
The Massif des Calanques is a wild and rugged terrain in a national park stretching from Marseille to Cassis. There are about 26 calanques, or inlets, of varying sizes that visitors can access via land and/or sea. These are usually best explored via a boat tour that will make several stops for those who want to take a plunge. Some of the calanques are also best accessed by kayaks.
Looking to feel like you’re in Los Angeles instead of France? Head out to Soorts-Hossegor, a commune in the Landes department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France, 20 km north of Biarritz. It is a well known seaside resort that is renowned for its surfing with excellent waves and relaxed surfer vibes on the beachside.
Les Plages de Côte d’Azur
We can’t pick favorites when it comes to the beaches on the French Riviera. Some of the most famous include: Plage de l’Espiguette in Montpellier; Plage Paloma in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat; Grande Plage in Biarritz; Plage de Porticcio in Ajaccio; Plage de Pampelonne in St-Tropez, and the entire beach at the Île de Porquerolles in Hyères.
Hôtel Les Roches Rouges
There isn’t much that can compete with a glamorous pool perched over the Mediterranean in the South of France. Hôtel Les Roches Rouges is a stylish accomodation that nods back at the heyday of the French Riviera with its chic poolside. You might even think that Brigitte Bardot will pop by at any moment.
Pont du Diable
The Devil’s Bridge, as translated, is located on the Hérault river. It is a true favorite for swimmers and will get crowded in the summer. You can swim right below the arched bridge, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding cliffs and wide-open skies. During the high season, there is also a supervised beach on the banks. Bathing in other parts of the Hérault gorges, however, is not supervised and presents risks. Keep in mind that jumping or diving from the bridge is strictly forbidden and is extremely dangerous.
Located in Provence, in the South of France, the Clue d’Aiglun is an impressive canyon at the heart of a karstic massif. While many people choose to slide in to swim in the mini lake, many also come here for cliff jumping that ranges from three to seven meters in height. It is also a fun spot to go canoeing with experts like the guides from Couleur Canyons.
Plage de Palombaggia
When choosing the best places to swim, we can’t leave out Corsica and its absolutely perfect beaches. This beach in Porto-Vecchio looks heavenly with its transparent blue waters and white-sand beaches and wonderful rocks. There isn’t much else to say, it is in of itself the sole reason to visit Corsica.