Taking the Plunge: Secret Sud Charente wild swimming


We're very excited to announce that our wild swimming bible Wild Swimming France has a second edition coming out on 1 June. We've had a sneak preview and can report that our region is now well covered. Well it had to be, we invited them here and showed them around. It's much larger than the first edition and is the perfect antidote to a year locked within our own four walls.


Whilst a dip in your own pool is one of the reasons so many of us have moved to Sud Charente, there is nothing to beat a swim in a cool river or lake on a sweltering summer day.

In Sud Charente we are fortunate to be within reach of numerous watering holes: beaches, lakes, rivers and open air public swimming pools (piscines en plein air) as the family behind Wild Swimming France discovered.


Our main rivers, the Dronne and the Charente, both offer freshwater bathing points with sandy beaches as well as water sports. Aubeterre beach (plage) on the Dronne (pictured below) is exceedingly popular, where canoeing and kayaking can also be enjoyed. It's emptiest in the mornings and best avoided on Sundays in August. There's a simple cafe open in high season, and when the crowds have gone home you can sit with a glass of beer and a plate of chips and enjoy a view that the classiest restaurants in the world would die for.



South of Chalais in Chenaud is a dreamy spot of wide open river, weir and a rope swing. It's extremely popular with locals but off the tourist radar. Head North on the D105E2/D138 and just after the bridge take the track on the right and continue for half a kilometre. Then you can cross the stream to the island where you will find the weir and tree.




Just over the border in the Charente Maritime you will find Montguyon’s lac de Beauvallon or Montendre’s lac Baron de Desqueyroux. Or visit Dordogne’s Saint-Aulaye which also has a sandy beach (pictured below one summer evening) and another handy beachside bar and café.



Some other spots are:-

  • Jonzac’s base de loisirs d’Heurtebise

  • Chateauneuf sur Charente’s base de loisirs du Bain des Dames

  • Brossac’s Etang Vallier Resort

  • St. Vallier’s Lac Sensation Frisson

Wild Swimming France – second edition by Daniel Star is published on 1st June 2021, costs £18.99 and available to pre-order here: http://www.wildthingspublishing.com/product/wild-swimming-france-book-2021/ or on Amazon.fr France’s 1000 most beautiful rivers, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs & natural pools 336 pages, 850 photos, 22 maps, 210 x 170cm

A total of 20 open air swimming pools can be found in the Charente alone, which will be open from June. For more information on opening times and locations click here.

Sometimes a more exciting swim is required to keep everyone, especially children and thrill seeking adults, entertained. Try one of these ’centres aquatique’ whatever the weather:

In Sud Charente a day to a beach is also within reach. Highly recommended resorts are:-

  • Saint-Georges-de-Didonne (on the Gironde estuary)

  • Saint-Palais-sur-Mer (on the Atlantic Ocean)

  • Dune of Pilat at Pyla-sur-Mer in Arcachon Bay (pictured below)

  • Cap Ferret

Enjoyed this blog post? Would you like to share and post some of your own ‘cooling down’ places on our Secret Sud Charente Facebook page? Please feel free to do so. It would be appreciated to hear your own recommendations.


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