Top 5 Wild Swimming Spots in the Languedoc
Summers in the Languedoc are pretty much always hot and sunny with endless blue skies. So, you definitely need places to cool off. Of course, there is “ la grande bleue” as the French call the Mediterranean Sea. But inland, you will also find many gorgeous natural wild swimming spots. Rivers, rock pools, lakes, Languedoc-Roussillon has it all! Here are my top 5 wild swimming spots in the Languedoc:
Locally known as the Nice of Hérault, Roquebrun benefits from a microclimate and is one of the prettiest villages in Languedoc. Perched on the edge of the River Orb, you can avoid the crowds on the beaches and swim here in the summer. The river is slow-flowing and there is a little weir that you can slide down.
Bring your water shoes to protect your feet from all the pebbles. When arriving from Cessenon-sur-Orb, you can reach the pebble beach by turning right just before the bridge to Roquebrun. In summer you can park your car for 3 euros, and you can buy an ice cream and some drinks. On the left side of the bridge, at Canoe Roquebrun, you can rent out canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
There are some great options for lunch too!
The stunning Gorges d’Héric in the heart of the ‘Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc’ are well worth a visit. In winter the gorge is full of waterfalls; in summer these give way to little rock pools perfect for a dip. Only for the brave though, because the water is cold as ice, even in the summer! Some of the pools are deep enough for jumping in from the nearby rocks.
There are plenty of gorgeous spots here to spread your picnic blanket. Wild swimming in the Languedoc doesn’t get much better than this!
You can park your car at the bottom of the gorge (near the village of Mons-le-Trivalle) for 3 euros between April and September, and parking is free during the other months. In the parking lot, you will also find a bar – Le Snack Loulette – where you can have a drink or buy an ice cream. The bar closes in low season; please keep this in mind as there is nothing much to buy after this point.
You could combine your swim with a trip to Olargues, which is just down the road and is one of France’s most beautiful villages
The quaint village of Bize Minervois has a popular supervised swimming area in the summer months perfect for children but the river Cesse has so many more hidden charming little swimming spots if you head towards the neighbouring village of Agel.
Going up the course of the Cesse you can discover picturesque bathing areas such as the “Spicy Water Causeway” – this swimming area is very popular both for its waterfall and for its deep and clear water.
Further upstream is “the Oules”, with its source of temperate water in summer and winter.
There’s “the Twelve” with its rocks that look like they’ve been thrown into the middle of the river – a great spot for sunbathing.
Arriving at Agel you will once again be able to cool off in the pools of “the Boulidou” where the water is very cool because it is here that the river resurfaces from the bowels of the earth where it has been hidden and filtered for more than 30 kilometers.
Pont du Diable
Just below the lovely village of St Guilhem le Désert, the river Hérault has been partially dammed forming a small lake, spanned by the Pont du Diable – one of the oldest bridges of France. On one side of the bridge, you have a breathtaking view of the Gorges d’Hérault. The other side has a natural pool with a pebbled beach (so bring your water shoes). From the banks of the lake you can take out a canoe and paddle up the ravine under the Pont du Diable. You just need to be careful to avoid the crazy teenagers hurling themselves 30 foot down off the small road bridge into the river below.
In the last few years a lot of money has been spent developing the surrounding area, including providing a large car park (5 euros from April to October), a lovely visitor centre (where you can grab a cool beer and ice cream) and a life guard look out post. We like to get to the lake for mid-afternoon and then head up to St Guilhem for dinner in the village square. You could also combine it with a visit to the Grotte de Clamouse.
Lac de Jouarres
Lac de Jouarres is located near the village of Homps and the Canal du Midi. It is bordered by olive trees, vineyards and pines. On the north side, a pebbled beach has been set up for swimming and there is an area for inflatable games on the water and rental of canoes, stand-up paddleboards, pedalos, etc. You can also fish or simply go for a walk around the lake, a walk which is only 5 kilometres long.
A small road leads from the village of Homps to a (free) car park under the pines, very close to the beach of the Lac du Jouarres . It can also be reached on foot from the port of Homps on the banks of the Canal du Midi by following the yellow markings for the “Le tour du Lac de Jouarres” hike .
Swimming is supervised in July and August. The vast lawns are perfect for sunbathing. You can also install your deckchair in the shade under the pines and enjoy the setting or make the most of the barbecue and picnic area.
A bar-restaurant, La Guinguette du Lac allows you to eat or buy some snacks (ice cream, drinks, etc.).
Dogs are prohibited in the bathing area
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