Tag Archive for: wild swimming

Walking in Cathar country

On a gloriously warm, early Spring day, leave the car and walk from the door of our holiday cottage in southern France. Reasonable fitness is required for this circular hike from Camon to Belloc. Take the Voie Verte, green way to Camon, the roses offer a beautiful, fragrant display against the mellow walls of this ancient bastide.

Fetes des Roses, beautiful, ancient Camon

Fetes des Roses, beautiful, ancient Camon

 

Ancient bastide of Camon in Spring

Ancient bastide of Camon in Spring

A left turn in the village follows a steep road to some lovely forest tracks, deep in Cathar country. The dappled shade affording some welcome protection from the heat of the sun, even in Spring. There is a choice of well marked routes to the pretty hamlet of Belloc. We followed the river until it was apparent that the “footbridge” shown on the map was a tenuous looking zip wire with a bit of frayed rope hanging loose.

So called footbridge, not for the faint hearted

So called footbridge, not for the faint hearted

In summer you could probably wade across quite safely but today the river ran fast and deep so we made our own path through some dense forest, eventually reaching grassy meadows and an alternative return route to Camon. A number of private spots along the river bank committed to memory for picnics and “wild” swimming in a few weeks time.

Wild Swimming in southern France

If you feel like something more adventurous than a chlorine soaked pool next summer, then “wild” swimming close to our holiday home in southern France may appeal.

Wild and beautiful Lac Montbel

Wild and beautiful Lac Montbel

Lac Montbel (5kms) is a huge expanse of shimmering, emerald green waters, busy only in July and August, even then it’s possible to find secret places along its shores off the [beaten] track.

Lac Montbel, lots of wild, secret places for a private dip

Lac Montbel, lots of wild, secret places for a private dip

We have walked the perimeter (16kms) in just a few hours. There are a couple of cafes and picnic areas, however, better to find a bit of sandy shore all to yourself for a lunch (or supper?) of local bread, cheese and wine purchased that morning at Mirepoix market.

Puivert Chateau, listen to jazz by the lake in summer

Puivert Chateau, listen to jazz by the lake in summer

Lac Puivert is 11kms from our holiday home and is much smaller, the medieval Cathar chateau provides a magnificent backdrop. A gently sloping shore and calm waters make for safe swimming. Early or late in the day outside July and August you may have it to yourself. Night markets each Wednesday in summer sell food that you can enjoy on the trestle tables set out by the lake, or bring food for a barbeque. The Fete du Lac in July ends with spectacular fireworks, exploding across the lake.

Carcassonne Plage, combine with a visit to La Cité

Carcassonne Plage, combine with a visit to La Cité

Carcassone Plage is a bit further, perfect when combined with a day out to the medieval Cité. Only a few minutes from Carcassonne, the lake, its sandy beaches and palm trees are a great alternative to the coast. There is an adventure park in the forest, bits of rope were hanging scarily across the lake and lots of things seemed to be going on very high up (age 4+, March – October).

At the foot of wooded slopes, spend all day

At the foot of wooded slopes, spend all day

The mighty Hers flows past the village. 3kms drive or cycle along the road brings you to a rough track through the woods leading to a great spot by the river. A tiny pebble beach, shady meadows, a deep pool for a decent swim, and flat rocks where the kids love to scramble to catch those pesky crayfish, a perfect summer’s day.