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Lake Serre-Ponçon

44°31'0"N 6°20'60"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: March 2011
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++++The visit

The largest lake of the Alps, situated on the altitude of 780 meters, is the favorite destination for the lovers of mountains, wild nature and water-sports. If for your vacation you choose Southern Alps, you can plan to spend your whole vacation on the lake, or visit it on one-day trip.

Lac Serre-Ponçon If you visit the lake on one day trip:

On the western side of the lake visit the dam Serre-Ponçon and its museum, explaining the stages of creation of artificial lake. Take a tour of the lake (we suggest you to move north from the dam and cross the lake by the bridge that will take you to Savines-le-Lac), stopping on your way to look at ever-changing views of the lake. Some of the panoramic points will give you an excellent view on chapel St. Michele. This little XII century chapel in the middle of the lake used to be a revered place of pilgrimage. During construction of the dam it was planned to destroy the chapel, however the calculations showed that the chapel (initially built on the hill and surrounded by a cemetery) will find itself above the water. Nowadays the chapel is accessible in low-water season, but rests closed all-year long.

Around the village Pontis take time to see rare geological curiosity – Lac Serre-Ponçon Les Demoiselles Coiffées (otherwise called hoodoos or fairy chimneys). These are tall thin columns of a soft sedimentary rock, supporting a larger and harder stone that protects each spire from erosion due to rain. Their strange forms drew people to believing in their miraculous qualities. Just a little further the village Le Sauze du Lac offers another breathtaking view on the lake.

If you consider the lake for your vacation:

Sixteen villages around 28 km2 of the lake offer accommodation and leisure centers for all budget sizes.
The villages:
Chorges, Prunières, Réallon, Puy Sanières, Embrun, Crèvoux, Les Orres, Barratier, Crots, Savines, Pontis, Le Sauze du Lac, Lauzet Ubaye, St.Vincent les Forts, La Breole, Rousset

Depending on the season you can try yourself in almost any kind of sport:
Lac Serre-Ponçon Whitewater rafting – choose the valley of Ubaye and its villages from May till October.

Canoeing, water ski, Jet Ski, kite surfing and wind surfing – can be practiced on the lake during the whole summer season. You can rent a yacht or electric boat (fuel engines are prohibited on the lake).

Paragliding – the school of paragliding of Montclar offers courses of paragliding and flights for people of any age (from 3 years old) and physical condition. See more on the website: http://www.ecole-parapente.com.

Hiking – all around the lake you will see numerous hiking trails of different difficulty. For the willing there are organized hiking and walking tours with local guides.

Biking – there are 19 VTT biking trails of different difficulty levels around the lake.

There are several beaches on the lake (consider, however, that at over 700 m of altitude the water stays fresh even in the hottest summer): near Rousset, St. Vincent les Forts and Savines le Lac.


The project of building the dam on the crossing of Durance and Ubaye rivers was circulating since the disastrous floods of 1843 and 1856. However, the work started only in 1955. Finished in 1961, the 600 meter long and 123 meter high dam gave birth to the second largest artificial mountain lake in Europe. Lake Serre-Ponçon has flooded three villages – Savines, Ubaye and Rousset; 1500 inhabitants have been relocated to other villages in the area, the village Savines was reconstructed on the board of lake receiving the name Savines-le-Lac.

++++Practical information

The lake is accessible by car: take direction Gap and from it direction Bercelonnette via Lac Serre-Ponçon.

The closest train station is Gap (30 minute drive).

Airport of Marseille-Provence and Airport of Nice have shuttle bus to Gap.
You can also access the lake by regional bus lines: Gap-Barcelonnette, Gap-Digne les Bains and Marseille-Briançon.

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