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Lake Sainte Croix

Regional Natural Park Verdon, Var and Alpes de Haute Provence

43°45'49"N 6°11'2"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: March 2011
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++++The visit

The biggest lake of the Regional Natural Park Verdon is a summer Lac Sainte Croix destination, almost as popular as the sea. Its huge surface (12 km long and 2 to 4 km wide) offers endless opportunities for bathing, diving and water-sports. Lake St. Croix is famous for exceptional turquoise colour of its waters.

On the lakeside you will find three villages: old villages of Bouduen and Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon and Salles-sur-Verdon – a replica of the ancient village, inundated during the construction of the dam. You will find the best beaches on the south-eastern side (department Var), while mountainous north-western coast (department Alpes de Haute Provence) is perfect for hiking.

Lac Sainte Croix The lake offers endless activities: on the water you can rent a pedal boat, a sailboat or an electric motor-boat (petrol engines are prohibited on the lake), practice water-ski or canoeing. You can even sail down to the Galetas bridge (Pont de Galetas), where turbulent river Verdon falls into the lake.

If you choose to spend several days or even weeks in the surroundings of the lake, you will not be disappointed. On the north-western coast (Alpes de Haute Provence) take a tour of the plateau of Valensole – one the biggest lavender-producing area in Provence (choose june-july to see lavender fields in bloom). Visit the villages of Verdon: Moustiers-Ste. Marie, Aiguines, Roumoules, Regusse en Provence, Baudinard-sur-Verdon and others. A little further from the lake you can visit famous sites of the Regional Natural Park of Verdon : Riez-la-Romaine, Castellane, Valensole, Sillans-la-Cascade, Greoux-les-Bains and many others (46 villages and towns are situated on the territory of the park).


The construction of the dam Sainte-Croix in 1975 gave birth to the third largest lake of France. Unfortunately, some precious monuments were sacrificed to the creation of the lake. Caves of Paleolithic era, the freshwater source Fountaine l’Evèque and medieval bridge of Aiguines disappeared in the depth of the lake. The village of Salles-sur-Verdon was rebuilt on the lakeside with its church and its fountain, while the old village was completely inundated.

++++Practical information

By car: Lake St. Croix is accessible by small departmental roads. The fastest way will be to take the autoroute A51 that crosses Provence from south (Marseille) to north (Gap), exit the autoroute to take D952 (at Cadarache) and continue through Greoux-les-Bains and Riez. Changing to D11 at Riez will take you to the southern side of the lake(Sainte-Croix-sur-Verdon), ideal for bathing; staying on D952 will bring you to magic village Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and plateau of Valensole.

You can also exit the autoroute A8 that crosses Provence west to east to take D10 that will take you to Lorgues and then Aups (D557), then continue on D957 to the eastern side of the lake.

As the lake is situated in the middle of the natural park, so the only feasible way to access it is by car or a tourist bus. Although the area is filled with campings and hotels, we advise you to reserve your summer vacation on the lake well in advance.
The accommodation prices are quite reasonable; however remember that in high season (july-august) some hosts raise their prices for up to 30 percent. We recommend June and September as the best months for your holidays.

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