Lac de Sainte Croix, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur, France

Lake Locations:

France - Southern France - Provence-Alps-Cote d'Azur -

Also known as:  Lac de Ste Croix, Saint Croix Lake

With its seemingly endless expanse of spectacular turquoise waters and pristine white sand beaches, Lac de Sainte Croix is one of the most beautiful lakes in southern France. It is known for its unbelievable shades of blue, so intense and arresting that people come from far and wide to experience its aesthetic beauty.

Lac de Sainte Croix is the largest of the four “Verdon Lakes,” all connected by the Verdon River in the Provence region of southeastern France. The other three lakes are Lac d’Esparron de Verdon, Lac de Quinson, and Lac de Castillon. The Verdon River flows into Lake Saint Croix at the gorgeous Galetas bridge (Pont de Galetas), where daredevils can try their luck at bungee jumping.

The third largest lake in the country, Lac de Sainte Croix boasts 5,436 acres of surface area and a maximum depth of about 305 feet. Situated 1,558 feet above sea level, the body of water is nine miles long and 2.5 miles wide at its widest point. Saint Croix Lake’s most relaxing beaches can be found along its southeastern side, while the best hiking trails can be explored in the northwest.

Water levels at Lac de Sainte Croix are controlled by the Barrage de Sainte Croix, a thin-arch hydroelectric construction located at the Baudinard Gorge. The dam was completed in 1975 by Electricite de France, and since then has supplied nearby towns with electricity and water. During Lac de Sainte Croix’s dam’s construction, most of the town of Les Salles-sur-Verdon was sunk 130 feet underwater while the rest was moved to higher ground.

Although no motor boats are permitted on Lac de Sainte Croix, electric vessels are allowed. Swimming, sailing, boating and windsurfing are extremely popular here; kayaking, pedal boating and catamaran tours are also available. Facilities at Saint Croix Lake include picnic areas, public beaches, life guards and an equestrian center on the northwest shore. Boating centers can be found at Les Salles sur Verdon, Sainte Croix du Verdon and Bauduen.

Anglers find great success fishing for trout, zander, pike, black bass, perch, carp and white fish at Saint Croix Lake. The best place to cast is around the lake’s large island. Guests should note that fishing after dark is prohibited, as is visiting the lake at night.

The Observatoire Astronomique de Bauden is also located on the southern end of Lac de Ste Croix, an observatory perfect for exploring the solar system. Night classes are offered for interested stargazers. Various horseback riding trails in the region are ideal for equine lovers, and camping amenities are available nearby for overnight stays.

Lac de Sainte Croix is nestled in the middle of the Verdon Regional National Park, which encompasses five artificial lakes and the Verdon Canyons. The 444,790-acre park is home to over 1/3 of France’s plant species, as well as animals such as griffon vultures, bats, chamois, and deer. Only 21,857 people live in the park, making the population density about 11 people per square kilometer. Real estate properties and vacation rentals are available.

Rock climbing at Le Verdon, just a short distance from Lac du Sainte Croix, is great for an intense workout. Here you’ll find more than 900 routes, including the 1,000-foot challenge known as “la falaise de l’escales.” While there are trails available for all skill levels, beginners should never set off without a guide. Quinson, Moustiers Ste. Marie, Castellane and the Gorges du Verdon are positively stunning.

Lac de Sainte Croix features numerous attractions nearby, just perfect for daytrips. Geologists will be fascinated by the calcareous rock cliffs formed by erosion at the Verdon Canyons. Here you can enjoy tubing, kayaking, paragliding and rock climbing. Canyoning into valleys up to 2,300 feet deep can be done between May and the end of November (and year round in dry gorges). Whitewater rafting is best between April and June, when the snow melts and raises water levels. Haut Verdon and Moyen Verdon can also be navigated with a knowledgeable guide.

Archeological buffs shouldn’t miss the Museum of Prehistory of the Gorges du Verdon in Quinson, inside the Regional Natural Park of Verdon and close to Lac de Sainte Croix. It exhibits at least 400,000 artifacts that were excavated from 60 sites in the Verdon Canyon. Displays showcase over one million years of human progress in the area.

Also nearby is the village of Aiguines, a beautiful area known for its phenomenal vistas of Lac de Sainte Croix and the Plateau de Valensole. On the western side of the city you’ll find a Rennaisance-style castle from the 1600s, along with a beautiful bell tower and sundial from 1785. Just northwest of Lake Saint Croix, the Plateau of Valensole turns into a sea of lavender during June and July.

Lake Saint Croix is sure to provide an unforgettable vacation for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Its convenient location and irresistible charm make it the perfect headquarters for day trips throughout southern France.

Things to do at Lac de Sainte Croix

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lac de Sainte Croix

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Carp
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Zander

Lac de Sainte Croix Photo Gallery

    Lac de Sainte Croix Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Electricité de France

    Surface Area: 5,436 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,558 feet

    Maximum Depth: 305 feet

    Water Volume: 616,142 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1975

    Drainage Area: 614 sq. miles

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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