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I love this book so much!
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