Discover the story
France’s biggest emerald: Lake Sainte Croix

It was Georges Clémenceau, in 1902, who first put forward the idea of an artificial lake on the site of today’s Lac de Ste Croix. The idea has been revived and abandoned throughout history. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the project got underway under the leadership of EDF. But the project caused an uproar among the local population, as it meant the disappearance of three villages in the vicinity of the future lake: Bauduen, Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon and Les Salles-sur-Verdon. The project was then redesigned so that only the latter was swallowed up, thus preserving as much of these beautiful Provencal villages as possible. Construction of the dam was completed in 1973, and the lake was finally impounded on November 15 of that year.

The Sainte-Croix dam, built in 1974, led to the disappearance of the valley and swallowed up the Fontaine l’évêque spring, which continues to flow at the bottom of the lake, along with the surrounding fields, farm and businesses. This new landscape also separated the riverside villages, once linked by four bridges. These include the Roman bridge south of Sainte-Croix on the Fréjus-Riez Roman road, and the medieval bridge at Aiguines to the north.
Lac de Sainte-Croix is first and foremost a water tower, providing water for many of the inhabitants of Provence. At the heart of a beautiful, unspoilt landscape, water sports activities can be enjoyed year-round. Lac de Sainte-Croix is now the 4th largest artificial reservoir (i.e. a body of water fed by runoff and/or rivers) in France, with over 767 million cubic meters of water spread over a surface area of 22 km2, 11 km long and 5 km wide, enabling the dam to generate 142 GWH per year.

A frame

Visitors and locals alike agree that Lac de Sainte Croix is one of the most beautiful spots in the Alpes de Haute Provence region. At the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional and at the entrance to the Basses Gorges du Verdon, this is a veritable little corner of paradise where, thanks to the clay beds lining the lake, you can admire turquoise water stretching as far as the eye can see. The lake is also praised for its soothing calm. In fact, gasoline-powered boats have been banned from navigation, to be replaced by rowing, sailing and hydroelectric craft. The only petrol-powered aircraft allowed near the lake are Canadairs, which land on the water to refuel, the water point also being a useful reserve in case of fire.

Where to swim
at Lac de Ste Croix?

No need to go too far (5 minutes from the campsite), the most beautiful beaches are to be found in Bauduen: the village beach to watch out for, the beaches before the village, the beaches of the Garuby track and the beaches of Sulagan offering a view of the village and the Grand Margès mountains.

You can also take a dip right at the entrance to the Grand Canyon before setting off to explore the gorge in the boat of your choice. Head for the Pont du Galetas beach, where we recommend an early-morning visit, especially during the busy July-August period. a 20-minute drive from our campsite.

How to navigate
on Lac de Sainte Croix?

Whatever your desire for adventure in terms of water activities, you can be sure that it will be satisfied at Lac de Ste Croix. In fact, the various clubs around the lake offer a wide range of possible water-based activities: canoeing, kayaking, paddling, pedal-boating and more.

Choose your boat and set off to discover this great emerald expanse.

To Bauduen for a ride on the lake

Playa Location : pedalo – kayak – paddle : Tel 06 82 34 14 11
The Beach : Surfbikes – Barracudas – Canoes : Tél 06 88 80 37 20
Alizé Électronique Rental: Electric boats, no permit required: Tel 04 92 75 44 69

At the Pont du Galetas, go up the gorge for 2km.

Pedalos Chez Nounet : pedal boats – Kayaks – Paddle : Tel 06 82 34 14 11
Base de l’Etoile : Surfbikes – Barracudas – Canoes : Tél 06 88 80 37 20

Can you fish
on Lac de Sainte-Croix?

Fishing is permitted all year round. The lake is considered to be a second-category fishing lake.

Each angler may have up to 4 lines and must respect the following quotas:
Salmonid quota: 6 trout per angler per day, including a maximum of 3 fario trout
Carnivorous quota: 3 fish per day per angler, including a maximum of 2 pike
While pike fishing is closed, the use of livebait, dead or artificial fish and lures likely to catch this fish non-accidentally is prohibited.

Please note: classified as a “large inland lake”, fishing is regulated by a prefectoral decree specific to the Verdon lakes.

around Lac de Sainte-Croix

If you’d like to explore the area around the lake on foot, we recommend the Bauduen trail, which takes you under shady pines and offers a superb view of the lake. If you’re more of an experienced climber, we recommend tackling the 1577-metre Montée du Grand Margès, which offers breathtaking views over the lake and the Gorges.

And for those who still want more, a new GR trail has just been mapped out around the lake on foot!