Wild Swimming France – a book review

I have been asked to review a book called ‘Wild Swimming France’. Happily it was a pleasure.

Without spoiling the conclusion I can tell you straight away that is going to be an indispensable addition to the books I take with me when I go away, and you should rush out straightaway and buy it – it is an excellent book crammed with great ways to have a good time during your visit to France.

First a word of explanation for the uninitiated. Wild swimming doesn’t refer to a bunch of children splashing noisily in a swimming pool, but the chance to swim in some of the most beautiful natural environments to be found in France, even when the seaside is miles away.

Lakes, pools, gorges and river beaches can be found all over France – but many of them will remain unknown unless you know where to look!

The author, Daniel Start, has taken on the arduous task of visiting many of these beauty spots with his family and testing them out for us – rather bravely sometimes, where it involved jumping from a substantial height into a pool below.

The results of his adventures are now available in the book Wild Swimming France, along with detailed guides to how to found the many of the places and lots of lovely photos. The sites cover much of inland France (especially the southern half of the country and the Loire) so you are likely to find somewhere near your destination.

I have come across several of the most easily accessible sites featured in the book during my travels, but I am startled how often I have been within a few kilometres of beauty spots without being aware of it.

For example, anyone who has visited the Ardeche will have paddled under the (very picturesque) Pont d’Arc – but did you visit the pool under the Pont du Diable (Thueyts) or the Gouffre de L’Enfer (Burzet)?


Other photos in the book make me want to head off exploring again straight away – for example to see the pools and waterfall at Sillans-la-Cascade (Provence).

Hence why I plan to carry the book with me in future, and why you should do the same. The cost of the book is so far outweighed by the pleasure of a couple of days exploring and swimming in rivers and lakes that I can’t see how anyone could fail to find it useful and excellent value.

Even if you are not tempted to swim, many of the locations suggested are very picturesque and deserve a visit anyway.

You can – and should, before you forget about it – buy the book from here. There is also an app which will be useful when exploring – see here for details.

I was going to give away my review copy as a prize but have decided to keep it myself so you will have to buy your own, sorry!

Note: of course, I was not paid to write this review and will make no commissions etc from its sale. Photos above are copyright Daniel Start and may not be used without his express permission – see wild swimming photos for the flickr gallery.