Whilst some may flock to the south coast in summer, there are literally hundreds of uncrowded beaches and fresh rivers in the Dordogne offering a welcome alternative to the busy Mediterranean coast. The cool, clear waters of the Dordogne river, or indeed one of the other rivers in the department on a hot summer's day cannot be beaten.
The Ministry of Health in France is keen that bathers to take note of the water quality on their favourite beaches, rivers and watering holes, and provide up-to-date information regarding the cleanliness of France's beaches and rivers. This interactive map (which is available in English) allows you to zoom in on the areas of interest and to review recent test results. The beaches and rivers are ranked from excellent (blue) to prohibited (pink).
Thankfully the rivers and natural swimming spots around Dordogne are mainly blue, so we can swim, kayak, canoe and dive happily in the knowledge that the waters are clean and healthy.
Our favourite spots for a dip include:
- Magali Plage: On the Dordogne river in Liourdes, a pretty beach with a little restaurant, canoe rental and a campsite nearby.
- Creysse: An idyllic hamlet where a fortified gate and parts of a stone wall is all that remain of a medieval château. Water is clear, shallow at the edge and deep in the middle, and the immense pebble beach is great for families.
- Meyraguet: Situated between Lacave and Pinsac, a pebble beach and sunny location sits within castles on cliff-tops, prehistoric caves and marked trails.
- Lanzac: A peaceful stretch of river with easy access to the small beach with award-winning views of the Château de Lanzac.
- Plage de Caudon, Vitrac: A long sandy beach complete with pretty islands and shady trees by a pretty medieval village. A campsite and canoe rental is nearby.
- Plage du Pont de Vicq: In Le Buisson de Cadouin, a popular river beach where you can enjoy swims in the Dordogne as well as marked trails through the Bessède Forest. There is a small café for refreshments.
- Limeuil: One of the "most beautiful villages in France" has a popular river beach that is quite large, and the water is shallow making it suitable for little ones to play and paddle near the edges.
- Martel: One of the prettiest river beaches is Gluges in the Lot department close to the Dordogne border.
- Vitrac: Another popular river beach with locals and tourists heading for the Plage de Caudun for a cool down. There's a campsite, snack bar and canoe hire.
Please note: Often these river beaches are unsupervised and swimming is at your own risk. You should be aware that the current can be strong in some parts of the river.