There are many locations for wild swimming in France like Pont du Diable, Gorges du Verdon, etc and these are among the many known spots for wild swimming enthusiasts. I want to know if there are any specific rules for wild swimming in general pertaining to…

  1. Dress code (whether you have to be in proper swimwear or you can jump in the water wearing whatever you want?)

  2. Rules related to safety wear (whether you allowed to wear life vests, googles, etc. and/or vest are compulsory for children?)

Any other rules that one should be aware of.

I am only asking for general rules covering all wild locations like rivers and lakes in the country. I think there will also be location specific rules but that can be left out. Or are there no particular rules in France for wild swimming in general?

  • If there are no particular rules it'd be an answer. The question can be a simple yes/no question as well as I said in the last line.
    – Gaurav
    Sep 28, 2015 at 10:49
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    One simple solution would be to remove any reference to Germany from this question, as there is already an accepted answer covering France and then ask another similar question solely about Germany.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 28, 2015 at 13:24
  • @Relaxed Fair point, have edited the question... Can ask for Germany in similar manner but it seems the answer is already clear from the comments that there are no general rules.
    – Gaurav
    Sep 28, 2015 at 13:31
  • I can add that the Netherlands (neighbour to Germany) also has not general rules. Like France, local powers set the rules for swimming water in their area. But unlike France, not every swimming option is regulated. Where there are no rules posted, you do not need follow clothing guidelines.
    – Willeke
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


In France, the law puts the mayor in charge of securing bathing areas so all rules are indeed local. However, it's mostly about deciding where bathing is allowed or not and not so much on clothing and other details.

While there are typically extensive rules for public swimming pools, I have never heard of similar rules for open-air swimming, whether they are under watch or not. At most, I imagine that some general “indecency” law could be invoked if you swim completely naked but beyond that you can wear pretty much whatever you want.

Similarly, safety equipment for children is neither forbidden (!) nor mandatory as far as I know but if something happens you could of course find yourself liable (criminally or civilly) if you did not take all necessary precautions. There are of course extensive rules regarding what you are allowed to do with a group of children you are in charge of professionally (summer camps, etc.) but I assume you are considering a trip with your own children.

Also note that dogs and other pets are frequently not allowed on beaches, again per municipal decision.

  • @Gaurav My answer is about France. But even there, there are rules, usually several pages of them, about motor boats, pets, opening times, where exactly people are allowed to bathe, who can enforce the rules, etc. Nothing at the national level and usually nothing about bathing suits or safety vests.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 28, 2015 at 10:14
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    @Gaurav: Some lakes may have an entrance fee, but those are not quite what I'd call "wild". As far as I can see, those lakes come with appropriate installations to make sure everyone pays the fee (e.g. an access-controlled beach), unlike lakes that you can find in the wild, in forests etc. Sep 28, 2015 at 11:01
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    I seem to recall that in France one of the main features of the signs put up to prohibit swimming was that they were entirely ignored by the locals.
    – abligh
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:17
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    Locals may do that, but its best for foreign tourists to avoid any trouble
    – Gaurav
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:22
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    @Gaurav Enforcement is not the main issue, incidentally, the signs often correspond to a dangerous area so you're right to be careful.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:26

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