July 25, 2014

France has some of the largest and most beautiful lakes in Europe, making it the perfect place for a wild swimming enthusiast, like myself. Here, I take a look at what wild swimming actually is, and where the best spots in France can be found. So, with just a 35-minute journey to France on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, all you have to do is pack up your swimming gear and hit the road.

What is wild swimming?

With the popularity of sports such as Triathlons on the rise, wild swimming is now the choice for many swimmers. If you aren't familiar with wild swimming, then don't worry. Wild swimming is just swimming but in natural open waters, such as rivers, lakes and sometimes even the sea. With wild swimming, all you need to do is forget about the chlorine-filled indoor pools of back home, and revel in the picturesque surroundings of the lake and dive in.  

 Lakes-gorges-du-Verdon image

Gorges du Verdon

Lac d'Ilay

The stunning Lac d'Ilay is located in the Jura region of France, close to the Swiss border. It takes just over six hours to drive to Lac d'Ilay from the Calais terminal, but it is a truly beautiful drive that you're unlikely to forget in a hurry. The lake is relatively large, and with the water being slightly shallow and warm, it makes for perfect conditions for a long distance swim - plus, you won't have to worry about any unwanted cold shocks as you jump in.


Lac d'Ilay in autumn

The lake itself is surrounded by vast forestry and sandy shores, and makes for a great place to camp out overnight. If you're feeling peckish, then take the 15-minute drive to Saint-Laurent-en-Grandvaux to fuelup on yummy French delights from the café, Pastry Marconot.

Lac d'Annecy

The Lac d'Annecy is a deep pool of aqua-blue, surrounded by striking mountains and dense forest. The drive takes around seven-hours and a half to get there, so be sure to take the time to enjoy the scenic landscape on your way down.  It's also the third largest lake in France, making it the perfect place for a day of wild swimming in the summer sun.  The lake is surrounded by campsites, hotels and wooden lodges, so be sure to spend a night or two there to enjoy the atmospheric silence of the area at dawn.

Lakes-Annecy image

Lac d'Annecy

On top of swimming, the lake also caters to a number of other sport enthusiasts; so when you're taking a break from swimming, why not try something new, such as learning how to paraglide, snorkel or even wakeboard. If you're in need of some food or just want somewhere to explore, make the quick trip to Acacias Bellevue, where you can dine out with panoramic views of the lake.

Lac de Sainte-Croix

The Lac de Sainte-Croix is one of the most beautiful lakes in France, and with the Mediterranean climate of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, it's a great place to cool off during your summer holiday. It takes ten and a half hours to drive to Sainte-Croix from Calais, so make sure you take plenty of breaks - Dijon is around halfway, so why not enjoy a day or two of exploring the city's sights?

Known for its turquoise water and rugged white cliffs, Lac de St. Croix is a sublime pool to dip into when the Mediterranean heat of southern France becomes too much. If you're with your kids, how about giving the paddle boat a go? Alternatively, if you're feeling a little more daring, give kayaking a try along the lake's tail, towards the tumbling Verdon gorges.

Goggles? Check.  Swimming costume? Check. Ticket to France..?
With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle , a journey to France takes just 35-minutes, and with no limitations on luggage, you can carry as much swimming paraphernalia as you wish! So, pack your swim cap, hop into your car, and hit the road to your next wild swim.

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