One of the things that we love to do when the day is hot and the sun is shining, is to head for the cool of a steep-sided gorge, with deep pools of cold water, and spend the day climbing the rocks and diving in.
Here is some information about a few of our favourite spots
(See the bottom of the page for a handy map to help you find these secret places…..)
1. The Plan d’eau at Rasigueres
Looking down at the tree-lined river from the road, it is hard to see where the good swimming spots are, so we didn’t discover this local favourite until this year – just up-river from Rasigueres, as you pass the signs that indicate you are leaving the village, there is a turning to the left. Follow the tarmac down to where it turns into a track, and park by the tall bamboos. On a sunny afternoon, there will likely be other cars there. Head through the gap in the bamboo to find a sandy beach, plenty of shade, and a long stretch of deep cool river with water up to 10ft deep. The perfect place to retire on a hot day!
2. The Clue de la Fou
After the Agly emerges from the Gorge de Galamus, rather than heading down to the sea following the obvious route through Maury, the river takes one look at the easy option, and plunges instead Southward through the cliffs, and past the villages of Ansignan and Caramany. Where it passes the cliffs just outside St Paul, it cuts a deep gorge, and makes for great swimming, albeit a little hard to access (turn right just over the bridge), and close to the road. There is also a very picturesque old Roman bridge.
3. Caune de l’Arago
Where the river spills out from a cleft in the rock as it descends from the Corbieres past Paziols, towards Tautavel. There’s plenty of parking here (which means it can get quite crowded in summer). There is a deep pool, a rope swing, and some rock faces frequented by climbers. A good spot for a BBQ if you don’t mind the crowds.
4. The ‘hydro-electric’
an isolated spot, likely to be deserted (but known to a few regulars), this requires a car with good clearance (or at least a hire car – they don’t often look underneath when you bring them back!). If you can find somewhere to park, you will need to walk past the buildings to the river, where there are pleasant gravelly beaches to sit on. The real joy of this spot, however, is only accessible to the swimmers in the party, who will find as they head upstream a small gorge, with steep sides, deep pools and small rapids.
5. The Maury pool
Not officially a swimming pool, but a section of the Maury river that has been dammed and concreted, so that, apart from the slippery bottom, it is pretty safe to swim. A pleasant decked area for sunbathing and a small cafe for snacks. Great for kids, and plenty of parking.
6. The Quarry
A secret spot, very near to our farmhouse, where the dragonflies flit over the surface of the limpid pool, and where, on a sunny day, the top foot of water can be ten degrees warmer than the green depths beneath.
7. The Agly Reservoir at Caramany
A few years ago, in a deal involving a lot of EU funding, the Dam across the Agly was built. The idea originally was to provide a regular supply of water to communes further south whose snowmelt run-off was irregular. The Dam was finished, but the pipeline was never even started, and now the Agly reservoir does precisely nothing other than attract fishermen and (mostly English) swimmers. It is a wonderful spot for a long swim, if it is not too windy.
8. The Gorges de Galamus pools
At the top of the spectacular Gorges de Galamus, there are a series of pools that are easily accessible from the road, several of which provide great swimming, and some scary leaping-from-a-great-height so beloved of young boys.
9. The Diving rock on Le Verbouble
A wonderful spot, only 100 metres from the road, where a deep (2-3m) pool sits in the shadow of an inclined rock that allows for jumps or dives up to 6-7 metres high
10. The ‘Lavoir’ – our place
We don’t have a swimming pool at our farmhouse, but we have reconditioned the old lavoir which we fill up with water from the well, and use as a good vantage point to survey everything that we haven’t managed to achieve in the garden. Often with a Gin and Tonic or a bottle of rosé