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What could be more refreshing than slipping into the cool, clear waters of the Dordogne river on a hot summer's day? The beauty of the region's natural beaches and swimming opportunities always make for the perfect afternoon (with the added bonus of never being too far away from a great campsite, medieval castle or terraced café). Take a look at a few of our faves!
Many flock to France's southern coast in summer, but there are also tonnes of uncrowded beaches and fresh rivers waiting to be discovered in the Dordogne Valley.
For those who find loungers loathsome and beach bars boring, these little treasures are a welcoming alternative to the busy Mediterranean coast and often provide no more than a castle and limestone cliff for company (and the odd canoeist).
As the water levels drop in summer, the Dordogne river is awarded a fantastic array of untamed beaches where holiday-goers can enjoy a refreshing break from the hot climate and the chance to splash about in the warm, clear waters. With crescent-shaped pebble beaches offering out-of-the-way places to set up camp for the day, these pristine swimming hubs make great spots for lazy days out in the sun.
It's of course easier for canoeists to find a wild beach than drivers but many are accessible by road. Here are a few ideas about where to throw down your towel this summer!
Nestled on the Dordogne in Liourdes lies Magali Plage, a pretty little beach enveloped by woodlands with a guinguette-style restaurant. If you're feeling peckish, hop off your canoe and enjoy a good meal before hitting the beach for a snooze under the sun.
Canoe rental and a campsite are available nearby.
This idyllic hamlet, with its dinky market hall and fast running stream, sits in the lee of a rock where a fortified gate and parts of a stone wall are all that remain of a medieval château. A very appealing hotel-restaurant 'Auberge de l'Ile' straddles the stream in the village centre, whose shaded terrace is hard to resist. After lunch, park up at the Monuments aux Morts and follow the path along the stream down to the Dordogne. Here you'll find an immense pebble beach which is great for families as the water's deliciously clear, shallow on the edge and deep in the middle.
Situated between Lacave and Pinsac, Meyraguet boasts a sweeping pebble beach and a fantastically sunny location to top up your tan in the afternoon. Jammed between cliff-topping castles, prehistoric caves and scenic marked trails, this little piece of paradise is the ideal place to wind down between two visits or rest your tootsies after a long hike.
Lanzac offers canoeists, picnickers and beach bums a peaceful stretch of river and a small beach with award-winning views of the Château de Lanzac. Access is simple for vehicles as a road leads straight up to the beach.
If you're traveling by car and you've finished your sarnie, swing by the Aire du Bélvedère to check out your new found picnic area from above. If you're traveling by canoe, we'll meet you at the next beach...
Plage de Caudon, Vitrac
Not only is Vitrac the owner of a pretty medieval village, it also boasts a long sandy beach and comes complete with pretty islands, shady trees and a Gibraltar-shaped rock. After a quick photo session by the Château de Montfort, the kids can build sandcastles whilst you cavort in the shallows.
A 5* campsite and canoe rental can be found nearby.
Plage du Pont de Vicq
Situated in Le Buisson de Cadouin ,The Plage du Pont de Vicq is a popular river beach that offers enjoyable swims in the Dordogne as well as fabulous marked trails through the Bessède Forest.
A café for refreshments is available however bathing is unsupervised.
Note: None of these beaches are supervised and swimming is at your own risk. Please be careful as the current can be strong in some part of the river.