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Year in, year out, the Dordogne Valley's rivers and leisure lakes promise visitors the chance to take a refreshing break from cultural visits and hit some of the finest beaches in South-West France. A welcoming alternative to the busy Mediterranean coast, its sweeping sandy beaches and pebble creeks provide out-of-the-way places to paddle, swim and dive under the supervision of a life guard. Whether it be on a secluded creek or a shady beach by a lake, there is a multitude of spots to put up your brollie without having to worry about the kiddies splashing around by the water's edge. Take a look at a few of the Dordogne's monitored beaches and swimming hubs to visit this summer!
Martel Nestled on a meander of the Dordogne, the beach in Gluges offers some of the most impressive sceneries in the region and comes complete with a lifeguard in peak season. Whilst bathers enjoy a dip in the river's pristine waters, picnickers can soak up the views of the towering cliffs from the pebbled beach or grassy banks. Those who've got itchy feet can follow the "sentier botanique" from Gluges to Martel and walk back via the GR46. The site is supervised by a lifeguard in the afternoons during peak season.
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
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 volleyball 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.
Lac de Feyt
Visitors looking to spend the day swimming, canoeing or admiring a turquoise lake and verdant surroundings from a sandy beach should swing by the Lac de Feyt. A 110 acre playground for both canoe and kayak fanatics, other water sports like sailing are also a popular choice here. The beach is supervised all day from Wednesday to Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
In another cliff-side location, locals and vacationers can enjoy a refreshing swim below the medieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. The site offers a sandy beach, grassy banks and designated swimming area as well as canoe and pedalo rentals. A campsite and snack bar can also be found nearby and bathing is supervised in the afternoons during July and August.
Le Buisson du Cadouin
With its 500m long beach and grassy banks, Le Buisson de Cadouin is a popular destination for swimmers with young children as the current is weak and there's a lifeguard service during summer. Shallow on the edge and deep in the middle, the water is ideal for both paddlers looking to cool down and swimmers who want to get in a few strokes. A car park and refreshments are available on site.