For members


Six ‘Blue Flag’ outdoor swimming spots within easy reach of Paris

Summer has very definitely arrived in France and if you are looking to swim outdoors there are some great spots within easy reach of Paris that have the official "Blue Flag" award.

Six 'Blue Flag' outdoor swimming spots within easy reach of Paris
(Photo: Eric Cabanis / AFP)

It’s the sort of weather that brings out the desire to leave the city behind, head somewhere green where – maybe – there’s a lake to while away a lazy few hours swimming, sunbathing and recharging those batteries before returning to the hustle and bustle of the capital.

The Blue Flag 2022 label has been awarded to 536 sites in France, including 419 beaches across 197 municipalities and 117 marinas.

In order to qualify for a Blue Flag, stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained. The flag guarantees clean beaches and marinas, excellent quality bathing water, and demonstrable efforts towards sustainable tourism and environmental awareness actions.

In the beach category, the label was awarded to the Base de Loisirs de Souppes-sur-Loing, in the south of Seine-et-Marne, which has consistently been awarded Blue Flag status since 2003.

The site offers a bathing area equipped with toilets, games for children, a nautical technical site and scuba diving training. About 38,000 people visit the leisure base each year, during the summer season.

Port de plaisance de Port de l’Ilon and port de plaisance de l’Isle Adam have also been awarded Blue Flag status this year.

Here are five other outdoor swimming venues within day-trip travel of Paris.

 Ile de loisirs de Jablines-Annet, Seine-et-Marne

The lake at Jablines-Annet has two white sand beaches where swimming is supervised on the last two weekends of May and Ascension Thursday, and daily from June 1st to August 31st. Pedalos are available to hire, and water-skiing and a sailing school is open. On-land activities include mountain biking, mini-golf, archery, and tennis. 

l’Île de Loisirs de Vaires-Torcy, Seine-et-Marne

Just 30 minutes from Paris in a car, the île de Loisirs de Vaires-Torcy offers numerous activities, including swimming, rowing, catamaran, canoeing, and paddleboarding. There is, for example, a nine-hole golf course; tennis, squash, and badminton courts; pony trekking. 

Entry to the beach, between 10am and 7pm, costs €5.50 for adults, and €3.60 for children aged 3-11.  Entry to the aquapark is extra.

Île de loisirs de Cergy-Pontoise, Val d’Oise

A lake, an aquapark, rafting and waterskiing, kayak and paddleboarding, an accrobranche, archery and a whole host of outdoor activities on offer on the border of Val d’Oise and Yvelines.

Les étangs de Hollande, Yvelines

In the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Nature Park, the étangs de Hollande, are a series of artificial ponds created on the orders of Louis XIV to supply the fountains of the Palace of Versailles. Today, it is the ideal setting for relaxing and enjoying a getaway surrounded by nature. About an hour from Paris by car, there’s a beach with supervised swimming, mini golf, beach-volley, picnic areas, pedalo, canoe and boat rental. Open Wednesdays and weekends in May, daily from June 1 to September 5. Entry starts at €5.20 for adults and €3.60 for children, with activities extra.

 l’Ile de loisirs de Bois-le-Roi, Seine-et-Marne

Some 50km south of the capital, the île de loisirs de Bois-le-Roi on the fringes of the forêt de Fontainebleau has the advantage of being free to enter – and is open year round between 9am and 9pm. There’s also no charge for anyone wanting to swim, while visitors can also enjoy golf, tennis and a number of other activities, for a fee.

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VIDEO: 7 of the most beautiful train journeys in France

From Alpine valleys to the Mediterranean coastline via viaducts, gorges and vineyards - France boasts plenty of stunningly beautiful train journeys. Here's our pick of some of the most spectacular.

VIDEO: 7 of the most beautiful train journeys in France

There’s no doubt that train travel is having a bit of a moment, as travellers shun planes for the greener and more relaxing alternative of the railways – French rail operator SNCF has added an extra 500,000 seats to cope with soaring demand this summer.

With its high-speed TGV network, France is particularly good at train travel. But as well as being better for both the planet and your sense of adventure, railways have one extra advantage – great views.

Here’s our pick of seven breathtaking rail journeys in France that will show you way train travel is still the best travel.

The Côte d’Azur

A – very affordable – train journey along the coast of the Côte d’Azur is one of the great French travel experiences – the train hugs the cliffs on one side, as the sea laps against the coast on the other. 

Head from Marseille to Nice – and perhaps on to Monaco, Menton and Italy – on the Marseille-Ventimiglia line – passing through the glamorous Riviera resorts of Cannes and Antibes, as well as Juan-les-Pins, and Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cap d’Ail if you opt to head towards the Italian border.

La Ligne des Hirondelles

This two-and-a-half hour, 123 km journey between Dole and Saint-Claude in eastern France on a typically comfortable TER train passes far too quickly.

It goes through the forest of Chaux, the Jura vineyards, the valley of Grandvaux, the Valley of Bienne… not to mention crossing 36 tunnels and 18 viaducts.

A joy from start to finish.

La Ligne de Cerdagne

If you haven’t heard of the train jaune, you’re in for a thoroughly pleasant surprise.

A true emblem of the south west, the yellow train travels the heights of the Pyrénées-Orientales through forests, chasms, gorges, viaducts, past old fortresses and a precariously perched monastery on a 63k m picture-postcard journey between Villefranche-de-Conflent and Latour-de-Carol, nearly 1,600m above sea level.

Two types of trains operate on this route, a modern enclosed train as well as an older historic train that sometimes runs with open carriages when mountain weather allows.

Le train de Montenvers

Not to be outdone by those upstarts in the Pyrenees, the Alps has the bright red train de Montenvers, which climbs from the Chamonix valley around Mont Blanc, before stopping at the Mer de Glaces all year round.

In winter, you can watch skiers doing their thing on the slopes. In summer, the stunning scenery will just have to do…

La Ligne des Cévennes

The 304 km journey from Clermont-Ferrand to Nîmes never looked so good, passing through astonishing landscape including the spectacular Gorges de l’Allier and the peaceful Cévennes national park.

The train route also crosses numerous equally astonishing 19th-century bridges and viaducts – including the twin curved 433m Chapeauroux Viaduct, and the 409m Chamborigaud Viaduct.

Le Mastrou

The age of steam still has the power to get rail travel lovers all emotional.

The 130-year-old Le Mastrou train travels from Tournon-Saint Jean through the stunning Ardèche landscape, crosses the Gorges du Doux for a relaxing lunch in the picturesque town of Lamastre in the mountains. 


One for cyclists – the link between Orléans and Le Croisic, on the Atlantic coast, cuts through the painfully pretty Loire Valley and passes through Nantes and Angers, following the Loire à Vélo path. In summer, cycles can be safely stored for the journey in a dedicated wagon.