Lac de Tolerme - © Cochise Ory
For a beautiful day beside the water, no need to head to the seaside, just saunter to one of the Dordogne Valley's many leisure lakes.
Boasting impressive scenery and a relaxed atmosphere far from the madding crowd, there's no arguing that the Dordogne is a specialist in matters of leisure lakes. An integral part of the landscape, these beautiful lakes contribute to the region's preserved beauty and natural heritage as well as immense wealth of outdoor activities.
With supervised swimming, fun water activities, peaceful fishing spots, calm walks and upbeat hikes for all to enjoy, they are some of the most sought after in France and are extremely popular amongst both locals and visitors. Along with the Dordogne river and a handful of tributaries, holiday-goers are promised a refreshing break from cultural visits and a chance to show off some moves on the water. These swimming hubs are great for a splash about and are a welcoming alternative to the busy Mediterranean beaches in Summer.
But not only are the Dordogne Valley's lakes lovely to look at, they are also some of the cleanest with many of them proudly carrying the title 'Pavillon Bleu' for their pristine beaches.
Most of these swimming lakes have designated fishing areas offering anglers a smooth expanse of water filled with trout, carp or zander just waiting to be caught... Fishing permits or ‘Permis de Pêche’ are usually sold in nearby tabacs, fishing shops or the Tourist Office and will allow visitors to fish like a local.
Located 45 miles north-east of Argentat and encircled by gorgeous hills and woodlands, Bort-les-Orgues Reservoir is hemmed in by some of the highest peaks in the Dordogne Valley and is easily worth the extra effort to get to.
Boasting the Dordogne's first ever dam and one of France's highest at 120m, the lake is a veritable inland sea with 26 miles of stunning riverbanks and beaches.
West of the reservoir, a giant wall of jagged columns formed by volcanic lava dominates the landscape and offers Michelin rated panoramas. In the middle of Bort-les-Orgues sits the 15th century Chateau de Val, a superb fairytale castle with a lakeside courtyard and chapel.
If you're looking for a supervised beach, children’s playground or canoe/pedalo hire, head to Les Aubazines, Sarroux or Val-Lanobre. If you want to push the boat out, swing by Plage de Val and try your hand at a bit of jet-skiing or windsurfing. You'll also find giant water inflatables and other activities for the kids here too.
Departing from Château de Val, two panoramic boat trips will take you on a fantastic excursion either through the gorges of the Dordogne or down to the dam. Bort-les-Orgues also offers miles of glorious marked walking trails to suit all levels as well as numerous fishing facilities for both the experienced and beginner angler.
Plan d'eau du Mas de Croux in Tauriac
In contrast to larger lakes and reservoirs like Bort-les-Orgues, Plan d'eau du Mas de Croix is a much cosier affair but with nearly just as many things to do. Nestled between river and fields, the lake's lush grassy-banks lined with shady trees and a supervised bathing area make it an ideal place to soak up some summer sun in the Dordogne.
The plan d'eau caters both to families looking to occupy the kids with its waterslide, playground and crazy golf as well as to those looking for adventure with its canoe rentals and fishing facilities. There's also a bar and restaurant on site for those feeling peckish as well as a campsite for those wishing to prolong the experience.
Etang du Moulin in Camps Saint Mathurin Léobazel
Etang du Moulin offers a quiet retreat for visitors looking to enjoy the Dordogne Valley's lush countryside with all the perks. In summer, water sport enthusiasts can skim along the placid lake on a pedalo, stand-up paddle or yoga-kayak whilst children enjoy the playground, skatepark and volley-ball ground.
The beach and swimming area is monitored by a lifeguard during the afternoon in peak season. At the entrance desk, visitors can find information about the lake's summer events, fishing and trout stocking as well as all the hiking trails and visits to do in the area.
Plan d'eau de Miel in Beynat
Perched on a plateau above the village of Beynat, the 30 acre Plan d'eau de Miel has been awarded the 'Pavillon Bleu d'Europe' and 'Handiplage' for its beach's cleanliess and excellent disabled facilities.
Despite the small entrance fee in July and August, the long sandy beach, water slides, diving boards, fitness trail and water sport rentals are definitely worth the few bob. The swimming area is supervised and various animations are organized during peak season.
Lac de Feyt in Servières le Château
Spend the day swimming, canoeing or admiring the radiant lake and verdant surroundings from the sandy beach at Lac de Feyt. A 110 acre playground for both canoe and kayak fanatics, other water sports like sailing are also a popular choice here.
Visitors that don't fancy getting their feet wet can pop their walking shoes on or jump on a bike and make use of the long trails that crisscross around the area. Anglers can enjoy some night fishing on the lake or at the Barrage du Chastang and try their luck at catching the ginormous carp.
Plan d'eau de Lamothe-Fénelon
Fringed with lawns and a sandy beach, Plan d'eau in Lamothe-Fénelon is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Brimming with delicious greens and blue, its sparkling waters provide a refreshing place to swim. Supervised swimming is available in July and August.
Lac de Tolerme in Sénaillac-Latronquière
After a beautiful drive through forests and rolling hills, getting to Lac de Tolerme is a real treat. Surrounded by nature and woodland, it is the largest lake in the area. Beautiful sandy beach, waterslides, hiking and biking tracks, restaurants, paddle boats...even small motor boats for hire ! Slightly off the beaten track, the Lac de Tolerme never gets too crowded. So whether you want to build sand castles with the kids, have a picnic in the shade, splash about or read your book in peace, this is the place to be !