Review of Wild Swimming France by Daniel Start

Nov 12, 2019 BY Mark Pawlak

We don’t do very many book reviews at AWE365 – we’re too busy in the water or on the mountain. But we made an exception for this review of Wild Swimming France by Daniel Start.

There are not many activities more invigorating than wild swimming. Either after a long day trekking or simply for the fun of it, cool waters always tempt you in.

It’s an activity I enjoy more than most so I was pleased to be sent this book on wild swimming in France. I was intrigued to find out if its author, Daniel Start, was able to communicate the experience in words and pictures.

Front cover of Wild Swimming France by  ©Daniel Start

Review of Wild Swimming France

And he has. There is some useful geo info and a region-by-region review of the best spots. But most importantly there are images that remind you just what a special feeling it is to be swimming free.

Lakes and rivers smell. It’s a distinctive, natural odour that pervades – a bit like that found in any sea or ocean. Personally it reminds me of summers past…

Still, to get to the best spots you often need to rock-hop your way across, or trek a short way from the road. Over 250 pages Daniel’s compiled all the practical info (grid references, road maps, entry points and nearby campsites) you’ll ever need.

Each of the 14 provinces included get covered in detail. That said, most of the swimming spots shown are in the South of France.

There are in-depth dip reviews and quality photography throughout, documenting the waterfalls of Jura and the Central Alps as well as the south coast and Corsica.

Review of Wild Swimming France by Daniel Start ©Daniel Start

Best wild swims in France

The ‘Swims at a Glance’ section helps you find safe spots to jump in. Plus it looks at lakes and rivers where there’s no need to worry about loosing your shorts or bikini – or even wearing them in the first place!

I’ve sat in the rock pools of Rennes-les-Bains and can recommend them as a therapeutic soak. Although, if you are after more adventurous immersions, be sure to pack a copy of this book and seek out wilder challenges.

My pick for the more adventurous are the lakes beneath the high Pic du Midi d’Ossau in Pyrenees-Atlantiques. And for the more meditative, the Gorges de Baudinard below Lac de Ste-Croix.

All images ©Daniel Start

This review of Wild Swimming France by Daniel Start was originally published in 2012 not long after the book was released. It is still a popular read you can pick up a copy of it here:

Alps, Corsica, Europe, France, French Alps, Jura Mountain, Pic du Midi, Pyrenees Mountains
Multi Activity
Swimming, Wild Swimming

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