The Aude department in the South of France hides some magnificent natural pools. One of them is the plan d’eau Les Fargues in the village of Ribaute near Lagrasse. Crossing the bridge over the Orbieu river will bring you to an aquatic paradise of rocks, waterfalls and turquoise water. It’s the best place to cool down in a postcard-perfect setting!
The plan d’eau Les Fargues is a popular swimming spot during the summer, which has caused some nuisance and rubbish left by disrespectful people. That is why Ribaute’s municipality has undertaken action to preserve this unique landscape. One of the measures is a paid parking lot of 250 places (4 euros per day) during the summer months. It was April when I visited the site, and there weren’t many people around. So, I could easily park my car for free along the riverbank and walk a short distance to Ribaute past sprouting vines and lush nature.
Via the Rue de l’Orbieu, I crossed a beautiful stone bridge that brought me across to the other side of the river. I can imagine this is where most people lay their towels on the rocks in summertime. During my springtime visit, the water was running wildly through the Orbieu river, and it was too cold to swim. However, I did see several people dipping their feet in the refreshing water at the top part of the waterfalls.
It is not possible to swim in the waterfalls section for safety reasons, especially during spring and autumn when the water level is high and dangerous. I asked a local, and he told me that the water level is much lower in summer. During the high season, you can swim upstream of the rocky area, where the river is calm. There is supervised swimming every day in July and August from 15h00 to 19h00. You are not advised to swim outside the supervised area and times. Let’s hope that the municipality’s new measures help to protect this hidden treasure.