What is the Difference between a French Beach and a French Lake?

When it comes to kids, what is the difference between a beach and a lake? The answer: waves. A lot of beaches have waves that make them unsuitable for little kids, like this beach at Biarritz:


The beach at Biarritz


Those waves would eat up my kids. Even with little waves it is hard to relax at a beach when you have younger children running around.

Lakes are too small to have waves of any significant size, but the muddy foreshore is a pain. In Le Gers they have a solution. They built a concrete ramp into a reservoir then covered that ramp in truckloads of sand. Voila! An instant inland beach:


The Lake at St Blancard


It is surprisingly good; it even has a hunky lifesaver. The main advantage of the lake is that it is here in the Midi and you don’t have to drive two hours to get to the beach.

Part of me says that it isn’t “the beach” and never will be, and that emotional thinking isn’t wrong. But generations of Americans have built a culture around the lakes of the Midwest and that works just fine for me in France. When we saw it for the first time we wondered where the jet skis were, and why it wasn’t ringed with lakefront homes, although there is a village nearby:


lake w village


The is one drawback. As the summer progresses and the Gers uses up its water stores the level of the lake drops and the concrete ramp under the beach begins to show through.

As a day out for the kids, it is amazing. There’s a little shop where you can get ice creams and coffee, there are barbecues where people leave unused wood around for the next folk. I don’t think there’s a gain for the kids in going to the beach over the lake, at least nothing worth a five hour round trip.

Here is the lake itself, click on the picture to locate it with Google Maps.




In short, I’m loving the lake. It isn’t sexy, it isn’t cool or fashionable but it is a lot of fun.

One thought on “What is the Difference between a French Beach and a French Lake?

  1. Susan Lea says:

    Great! I love it! On our little Alabama farm we have about a 2-acre “lake” that filled in after strip mining many, many years ago. We have kayaks and a canoe there. No waves at all, but fishing, swimming and boating all in one place–and it’s private! Of course, most farm ponds wouldn’t be nice to swim in if the cattle get to use them, too, but this farm is only used for hay, so no cow manure to contend with.

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