If you are heading for inland France then if you want a swim then this book is a must for you. The book is perhaps even more valuable for those visiting the south of France in high summer when the beaches get crowded and places like the Lac du Verdon come into their own. I have mixed feelings that some swims that I was convinced I was the only Briton that knew about them have (as if!?) been discovered eg the River Argens or Cirque de Navacelles but there are loads in here that I was not aware of and I look forward to investigating them. There are still a few wild swims I am aware of in the Auvergne and Jura for example that aren't in this book so considering the size of France I reckon there is enough material for another volume and I for one will eagerly buy it.
on 23 April 2012
Sitting in my rocking chair looking out through driving rain over a chilly grey Dartmoor landscape, I opened Daniel Start's latest book: Wild Swimming France. I was immediately entranced and transported to a dream-world of sun and turquoise water cascading into fairytale pools. Each new page elicited gasps and little excited dances, to the point that my neighbours must have wondered what I was doing. This book is pure wild swimming porn.
I have two of Daniel's other, British-based books, Wild Swimming; and Wild Swimming Coast which have proved invaluable in my explorations of local swimming spots and so I fully expected Wild Swimming France to contain similarly wonderful photos and useful information. I wasn't prepared for the range and beauty of the watery environments across central and southern France, which Daniel has spent three years discovering and swimming in.
The book covers every type of inland waterworld a wild swimmer could wish for: voluptious, turquoise Corsican river pools nestling in white rock; wide, leaf-shaded Loire tributaries overlooked by Chateaux; cascades falling straight from heaven into deep, dark basins in the land of the Cathars; aquamarine Pyrenean tarns surrounded by mountains; and a host of other rivers, lakes, watery caves and canyons to explore.
Daniel incorporates a wealth of practical information which includes lat and long coordinates for each spot together with directions and ease of access. Safety is discussed comprehensively with sensible warnings and suggestions on how to mitigate any risks, plus translations of French signs relating to swimming. There are also summaries of popular water-based activities like canyoning and canoeing, hints on where to look for your own wild swimming spots, basic maps, and details of campsites and restaurants.
As a keen wild swimmer, this book will certainly inform my next foreign holiday; it would also be fantastic for anyone visiting France who fancied making a leap into some safe or more challenging water-based activities as a part of a family holiday.
A book to give you sparkling, watery daydreams, and which will help to make your wild swimming dreams come true.
I received a free copy of this book to review.
on 18 July 2013
I won a copy of Wild Swim France (WSF) last year and promised that I would write a review after I'd tested it out on holiday in France. Well, two French holidays later, all I can say is that this book is the holy grail for anyone that loves swimming outdoors.
I chose both holiday locations on the basis of the reviews in WSF. Last year was camping at the Cascades du Sautadet on the Ceze River (just south of the Ardeche in the Rhone Valley), and this year was spent in the Ardeche at a brilliant campsite on the Chassezac River, and also in the Auvergne.
Me and my other half spent most of both holidays swimming in the places recommended in the book. Last year the Cascades were utterly fantastic except at weekends when they were packed. Having the book meant that we were able to go further upstream to a great little isolated spot where the only other people were nudists all wanting quiet and privacy. We also swam in the Gard on the book's recommendation.
This year we swam in the Ardeche including swimming through Pont d'Arc which was a great thing to do even on a cloudy day, and swam in a couple of tributaries including the Chassezac and the Beaume. We also went upstream on the Ardeche to where the geology changes from limestone to volcanic and swam in the most amazing (and intimidating!) columnar basalt cauldrons which were suggested in WSF. The best swim of all though was in a perfectly circular volcanic crater lake in Puy de Dome near Clermont Ferrand called Lac Serviere. It was so beautiful, perfectly blue with the sun shining through the water, I will look back on it as one of the most perfect swims of my life.
The instructions to find the swims are generally pretty good and easy to follow, although some of the parking spots are actually too hairy to stop at due to fast/narrow roads. We missed the Cirque du Gens because of this. However managed to swim there on a descent of the Upper Ardeche in a kayak on another day.
We were quite smug that we'd actually swum in a couple of places mentioned in the book before the book came out! All in all, this is a completely indispensable handbook for anyone who wants to find amazing swims in France, and it's also a good book to pull out in the middle of winter when everything is cold and dark and you need a mental lift. I'm already planning my next French swimming holiday, this time I think we'll head for the Clues in south-eastern France. Thanks for writing this book Daniel Start
on 25 April 2012
This guide is both beautifully presented and easy and efficient to use. For each region of south / central France there is a tightly worded, yet descriptive overview and a very clear map, followed by concise, individual annotations for each wild swimming location. The swimming sites are also categorised under functional headings, eg canoeing, waterfalls, camping. The whole is diffused with the most gorgeous photographs, taken by the author, which make the guide a joy to use.
on 1 May 2012
Hey Daniel Start, you clever boie,
So now it's France, that pays de joie -
Plunge pool and boulders of Roanne,
Falls of the Gorges du Loup, near Cannes,
A jump from Jaujac's rocky height,
The gorgeous Ayous lakes by night!
Just like 'Wild Swimming' and 'Swim Coast',
This book will prove your proudest boast.
We cannot wait to get stuck in
With snorkel, trunks and froggy fin,
Or, like your saucier photo-shoots,
Go swimming in our birthday suits.
Dear Dan, you've pointed all of us
To swimming without fear or fuss;
Our humdrum lives we'll now enhance,
And through new waters freely prance,
The next time that we get the chance
To wallow with 'Wild Swimming France'.
on 4 October 2012
I went campervanning round France this summer. I'd wanted to explore France for ages but never had the chance. Suddenly I had the opportunity - an invitation to Provence and the use of a friend's van. But how to know where to stop off on the way to and fro?!
None of the camping books I came across were much good, but when a friend suggested this it all fell into place! We stayed at four or so of the camping locations listed here - everyone of them glorious spots by glorious rivers.
Once I'd got my head around the layout of the book (which took a while) the abundance of amazing swimming spots, particularly in southern France, became clear - we could have spent many more weeks exploring the clear waters and warm stone of France's rivers laid out in the book. There will be a next time!
It's so handy to have an instant way into the special locations that only local knowledge would usually allow. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
on 28 July 2016
This should be called Wild swimming in half of France. When it says that the majority of sites are in the South, what it should say are "almost all of the sites are in the South."
The map that appears in the front of the book doesn't appear anywhere on their site and is artfully removed from the taster that they offer. It shows how limited the book is and I think it is really quite disingenuous of Wild Swimming to not include it in the information.
The only section that creeps into the North is the section on Normandy and Loire. Online it boasts the highlights of the area but in fact these 6 spots are the only places in the combined areas of Loire and Normandy! I hope it is just coincidence that the embeded google map for that section online highlights a part of Africa!
So check the contents page carefully and even then do not assume that the coverage is accurately portrayed.
Basically, if you are staying anywhere north of the Tours / Dijon line, then you only have 3 places to choose from and that should be said more clearly!
on 4 September 2016
Not great. Firstly the maps in it are poor - similar to hand drawn maps really, so not easily followed. Secondly the lay out of the whole book is confusing and they way that different spots are highlighted and numbered - when it could be so simple. Thirdly - as another reviewer did say - it is quite limited, - it mainly focuses on the south of the country. Finally and what I found most disappointing was the photos of the lakes - or lack of them. There would be sometimes 2 or 3 photos of the same lake, and then often none of others. This together with the sometimes extremely poor directions makes me wonder if the author actually visited every swimming spot himself, or just a few of them and gathered information on the others. One of the spots that I was heading to, swimming independently would have been dangerous as it was a gorge, but I went canyoning with a guide so did manage to get in to at but it was 60 Euro. Great idea, but poorly done.
on 1 May 2012
This book somehow manages to make wild swimming look as good as it feels, capturing the physical sensation with its tantalising pictures and accessible descriptions. If you have enjoyed either of the author's other two books - or have been put off thus far by Britain's colder waters - this takes the subject to a new level.
There is a lot of variety in the sites chosen, from safe sandy lake shores to exhilarating gorges and plunging waterfalls - something for swimmers of every level in other words. The directions are very clear, and even better are the GPS co-ordinates, so you can preview any location from the comfort of Google Earth.
It's hard to find fault with such a perfectly executed photo guide. Nearly all the sites are in the south of France, the most northerly being near Le Mans, but of course the south is also where most people go on holiday anyway.
A few more skinny dipping recommendations and pictures would add to the appeal, but there are enough (16 listings) for those who prefer to bare all - and it's obvious from the text and pictures which other sites are likely to be sufficiently secluded.
Apart from this book and a towel, I can't think of anything more I need for summer 2012's holiday.
on 7 May 2012
I was a massive fan of the last Wild Swimming book (I have used it a lot!) and I was really excited to see that a Wild Swimming France edition was to be released. I won a competition to receive a copy before it was published (yes!), but I would have definitely brought it anyway, based on the quality of the last book.
This book is packed full of great pictures and well-researched information on some of the most beautiful-looking and unusual wild swimming sites in France. It is a lovely book just to flick through and read, however I can't wait to take a road trip and try out some of the swimming spots for myself! As with the last book, there are clear maps for each area, with a key system (each picture has a number on it) - this should make it nice and easy to find each place that is depicted.
One of the best things about the book is that most of the pictures have people actually swimming in them, so you can really imagine plunging in and enjoying yourself in the water.