Fancy a dive into azure Mediterranean waters? The Parc National des Calanques in Cassis, Parc National de Port-Cros and the Riviera promise some of the world’s most beautiful natural swimming spots. The hinterland and Alpine landscapes are also home to many gorgeous lakes, perfect for a refreshing dip.
The Îles d’Or and the Calanques fjords
The enchanting Provencal coast
There’s no doubt about it, the aptly-named Îles d’Or (Golden Islands) are genuine jewels of the Mediterranean. Situated off the coast of Hyères, the Île de Porquerolles and Île du Levant – appreciated by naturists – harbour a multitude of little coves and golden beaches lined with pine trees. Protected by a National Park, they offer an idyllic setting for bathers and sun-worshippers alike. Just a stone’s throw from Marseille and Cassis, the Parc National des Calanques is also a bather’s paradise. Forming a succession of little limestone fjords spanning a maximum of 1.5 km, the “Calanques” are lapped by turquoise waters where you can enjoy swimming, observing the sea beds with a mask and snorkel, or scuba diving
With your feet in the sand
Just a short hop from Saint-Tropez, in Ramatuelle, Plage de Pampelonne – a vast strip of white sand with uninterrupted views all the way to the horizon – is a dream place to chill and soak up the sun. Just a few kilometres down the road, in Saint-Raphaël, you can lay out your towel on the sand of Calanque du Port de Poussaï. This fjord’s sumptuous decor was the location for several scenes from Woody Allen’s film “Magic in the Moonlight”. Accessible by boat from Cannes, the bewitching island of Sainte-Marguerite is one of the two Îles de Lérins, where the mysterious Man In the Iron Mask was imprisoned under the reign of Louis XIV. Don’t miss Plage des Sablettes in Menton either: a genuine picture-postcard beach set at the foot of the town’s old quarter.
A ideal place to take a dip 💦
Just a few minutes from Digne-les-Bains town centre and accessible by public transport or bike (on the cycle path), Plan d’Eau des Férréols lake is the perfect place for supervised bathing in a verdant, mountainous setting. Located 40 kilometres to the West, Plan d’Eau des Marres de Sisteron, set down from the Citadel, is a 5,000 m² lake where swimmers love to frolic. Don’t miss Colomiers and Chantemerle too – these hamlets of Serre-Chevalier are home to two biotope lakes with water filtered naturally by plants.
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The Lac de Sainte-Croix
A majestic spot for swimming
Nestled in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional de Verdon, Lac de Sainte-Croix is a truly jaw-dropping sight. Formed when a dam was built on the Verdon river in the Seventies, this vast stretch of translucent, pure water (motor yachts are prohibited) is a swimmer’s paradise. Set clinging to the green mountain slopes, Salles-sur-Verdon, Bauduen and Sainte-Croix all offer artificial beaches. But if you take time to explore the banks of the lake, you’ll come across some delightfully-confidential little bathing spots.