Lake Aiguebelette, Rhone-Alps, France

Lake Locations:

France - Southern France - Rhone-Alps -

Also known as:  Lac d'Aiguebelette

Nestled in the heart of the Rhone-Alps region of France, Lake Aiguebelette has a well-deserved reputation as a natural treasure. The lake is privately-owned and protected as a wildlife preservation area. The main inflowing river is the Leysse de Novalaise, and the Tiers River flows out. Careful management assures the lake can still delight thousands of holiday-makers each year while remaining a sanctuary of solitude and relaxation. Motor boats are forbidden on the lake, maintaining an air of silence to the calm waters. Lac d’Aiguebelette is surrounded by the mountain ridge of Col de l’Epine (meaning ‘The Spine’) on the north and Le Mont Grelle along the eastern side. Because the lake holds several hot springs and is sheltered from the wind, the water stays delightfully warm for swimming. Holiday-makers flock to the seven sandy beaches, most with lifeguards, to swim and sunbathe. Sailing, paddle-boats, row boats, canoes and kayaks glide silently across the smooth-as-glass surface and provide little disturbance to the myriad water birds that make their homes in the reed beds rimming the turquoise lake. Lac d’Aiguebelette means “beautiful little waters” and is certainly an appropriate name for this special lake. The pristine lake supplies drinking water for 14 nearby towns.

Several towns are nestled along the shore of Lake Aiguebelette: Aiguebelette-le-Lac, Lepin-le-Lac, Saint-Alban-de-Montbel, Novalaise, and Nances. The lake itself is jointly owned by the owner of Castle Lepin overlooking the lake and EDF (Electricite de France), who have entrusted its management to local communities. All of the towns contain vacation rentals that are used by visitors to the region. Several campgrounds also provide space for caravans and campers. The entire area is supplied with well-marked cycling and hiking paths. The mountains are especially favored by hikers and climbers. A paragliding location on the overlooking mountain is extremely popular. In fact, paragliding competitions are often held there. Competitive rowing teams hold regattas most summers, and bicycle races occur here regularly.

Resorts and guest hotels provide every convenience for visitors, making the lake a favored getaway for the well-to-do. Many areas of the shoreline are occupied by traditional boatsheds, some still used by local fishermen. A few old wooden warehouses give testament to the days when the lake was used to transport people, livestock and goods. Lake Aiguebelette is an ideal place for fishing: it is filled with whitefish, roach, bleak, tench, carp, bream, perch, pike, burbot, char and trout. The local fishing society, the AAPPMA, maintains a fish-rearing facility near Lepin and stocks the lake regularly with thousands of fingerlings. Boats and paddle-boats are available for rental as are bicycles and ATVs. Off the water, there are a large number of activities to keep any visitor happy, such as mini-golf, badminton, tennis and volleyball. Regular festivals attract visitors as do craft shows, flea markets and fairs. A small museum, Musee Lac & Nature, holds exhibits dedicated to lake ecology, fauna and flora. Several 18th-century churches around the lake hold notable works of religious art and history. The mansions of rich Parisians who lived here seasonally around the turn of the last century can still be seen in the town of Saint-Alban-de-Montbel.

Two small islands lie close together near the southeast shore of Lake Aiguebelette – Le Grand Ile and Le Petit Ile. Divers have found the remnants of a causeway and flagstone path underwater leading to the islands. The larger island holds a small chapel built on the ruins of a pagan temple. There is, of course, a local legend telling of how the islands came to be separated from the mainland. The legend, found in many places throughout the world with local variation, states that Christ, disguised as a beggar, begged the people of a then-thriving town for food and shelter but was turned down. Only an old woman and her daughter who lived on hills apart from the town would feed Him. The next morning, the town had sunk under the water, leaving only the islands, the remains of the hills inhabited by the old woman and her daughter. The intervening land has obviously sunk or the water has risen over the centuries, but the legend makes for a great story to explain the natural phenomena.

Many other attractions reflecting the rich local heritage, including caves, castle ruins, carved stones and chapels are discovered in random walks around the lake. Points of interest also reflect daily life and specialty industry such as one of the few remaining traditional tanneries in France. Nearby, a doll maker’s workshop showcases a doll collection in traditional dress. There are also a goat farm and a cider house near the lake where the visitor can purchase local foodstuffs, while the children enjoy the traditional farm processes. The local markets provide a full range of both traditional and modern convenience food for visitors renting one of the many self-catering holiday houses around Lake Aiguebelette. Located halfway between Lyon and some of France’s best-known ski areas in the Rhone-Alps, the towns around the lake provide rentals for year-round use. During the summer season, the surrounding mountains provide destinations for day excursions such as the Grange of Col de l’Epine nearby at Novalaise. This 12th century monastery also served as a traveler’s rest. The well-preserved building gives a detailed historical look at monastic practices in the Middle Ages. The entire area is filled with historic architecture and lovely views.

Only 60 miles from Lyon, Lake Aiguebelette is an easy weekend jaunt for a short visit. The many hostels, guest houses and holiday villas make it easy to find exactly the right destination to meet your needs. Real estate may be found in the small villages around the lake for a seasonal getaway home or permanent housing. Come and enjoy the serene blue-green waters of Lake Aiguebelette just once and you’ll be hooked. You’ll be back again an again!

Things to do at Lake Aiguebelette

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Aiguebelette

  • Burbot
  • Carp
  • Char
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Tench
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Lake Aiguebelette Photo Gallery

Lake Aiguebelette Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,347 acres

Shoreline Length: 8 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,281 feet

Maximum Depth: 233 feet

Water Volume: 135,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 27 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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