Lac de Serre-Poncon, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur, France

Lake Locations:

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

Lac de Serre-Poncon in the Provence Region of France proves that mankind can create a treasure of nature while solving a problem. Building a dam across the Durance River created one of Europe’s largest reservoirs. In the process, a hydroelectric generation station was created, irrigation and drinking water secured, and devastating flooding contained. The dam was originally planned in 1856, but unstable soils forced delays until new technology was developed in 1955 to make the project feasible. Several small villages were forced to relocate. A small chapel, established in 1020 AD, survived the filling of the lake on a tiny island. Although the cemetery and a walled chapel were lost under the water, the Saint-Michel Chapel still stands and has become one of the most photographed views in the Hautes-Alps Region. The new lake lies inland from the heavily-touristed French Riviera near the many ski resorts of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, making Lac de Serre-Poncon a highly desirable holiday destination. The climate is mild, and the region receives about 300 days of sunshine each year.

Covering almost 7,000 acres, Lac de Serre-Poncon stretches 13 miles upriver from the new dam. The rugged terrain created many bays and arms, increasing the shoreline length to 50 miles. Although the lake is deep, hot springs bring the temperature of the water up to an average of 73 degrees – perfect for swimming and water sports. The enterprising local people quickly developed a tourist industry around their new water feature. Holiday-makers enjoy sailing, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, kite surfing, canoeing and kayaking on the lake. Water skiing and wakeboard centers are located at Crots, Chorges and Savines-le-Lac.

Below the dam, rafting and canyoning expeditions have developed on the Durance River. The entire region is supplied with bicycle paths; bicycle expeditions lead riders on guided excursions of several days, with their luggage transported ahead to campsites. Both the lake and the river are favorites for anglers, who find a variety of fish due to the diversity of water bodies. Either on Lac de Serre-Poncon, its tributary streams, or the river below the dam, fishermen can catch pike, arctic char, carp, perch, grayling, cristivomer, tench, brook trout, whitefish, roach and bleak. Rumor has it that pike are sometimes caught here that are over a meter long. Motor boats are allowed on Lac de Serre-Poncon with proper license, but only canoes and electric boats are available for rent.

Gites (holiday lodgings) are available in several places around Lac de Serre-Poncon. Resort hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, private villas and summer holiday apartments are plentiful enough that visitors should have no trouble arranging reservations. Popular with younger adults, camping and caravan grounds are located both on the lakefront and a short distance away. Necessary amenities are available in the towns along the lake. Saint-Vincent-les-Forts overlooks the lake from its perch on the nearby mountain slope. Surrounded by an almost 7,000-acre larch forest, the town was once the stronghold for the Ubaye Valley. A major hang gliding and paragliding launch site here has hosted the World Paragliding Championships. Favorite attractions are the forest, the old fort, and the swimming beach and yacht basin. Miles of cross-country skiing trails line the forest during the winter. A sailing school at Savines-le-Lac draws budding sailors to its shores. Near the dam, the Museoscope du Lac shows videos of the building of the dam, the history of the area, the old villages and the river.

If activities at Lac de Serre-Poncon aren’t enough to keep the holiday-maker busy, the historic region is filled with side trips and day excursions, either walking or cycling, to see ruins, historic spots and geological formations. Remollon is located on the right bank of the Durance River, 12 miles from the city of Gap. Even though set at an altitude of 2,200 feet, the area has long been known for its excellent vineyards and fine orchards, due to the abundant sunshine this area receives. The 17th century bell tower, the chapel of Saint-Roch, the old village and its old town houses (with doors from the 17th century), fountains, the waterfall at its mill and petrifying spring are all of great interest to the history buff. Nearby the ancient town of Theus holds the ruins of a 14th century castle and a church that was rebuilt in the 18th century. The trail up the mountain out of the village leads to the Demoiselles Coiffees – crumbling stone columns supporting granite rocks. According to legend, “Les Demoiselles de Theus,” as the columns are called, were known in ancient history for their beauty. They indulged in a last dance, wearing large flat hats on their heads. But, when the twelfth stroke of midnight struck at the Church of Theus, they turned forever to stone.

Located only 15 miles southeast of the city of Gap, Lac de Serre-Poncon is the perfect holiday destination for a long weekend or a complete summer vacation. In the winter, the gites in the area are perfect for ski trips into the nearby mountains. Only 125 miles inland from Nice, vacation rentals at Lac de Serre-Poncon are a complete change of pace from the more heavily populated Cote d’Azur. Finding real estate for purchase in the area may be possible, but self-catering holiday rentals are always available. So there’s no reason to wait any longer. Pack the outdoor gear and the sunscreen and come to Lac de Serre-Poncon. It will quickly become your favorite corner of the world.

Things to do at Lac de Serre-Poncon

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Kite Surfing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Waterfall
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lac de Serre-Poncon

  • Brook Trout
  • Carp
  • Char
  • Grayling
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Tench
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Lac de Serre-Poncon Photo Gallery

Lac de Serre-Poncon Statistics & Helpful Links

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Water Level Control: Electricite de France

Surface Area: 6,919 acres

Shoreline Length: 50 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 2,368 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 2,559 feet

Maximum Depth: 295 feet

Water Volume: 1,053,927 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1961

Water Residence Time: 6 months

Drainage Area: 1,390 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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