In the heart of the Regional Natural Parc of Verdon, entry door to its famous canyons, the Sainte Croix Lake is a little gem worth discovering for those travelling between the Var and the Alpes de Haute-Provence.
We’ve gathered some good reasons you should visit it if you’re planning an ecofriendly escape in France.
One of the most beautiful lakes in France
With its 22 Km², the Lake of Sainte Croix, created in the 1970s following the construction of the Sainte-Croix dam, is one of France’s largest artificial lakes and is at the entry of the Gorges of Verdon, Europe’s biggest Canyon.
Its turquoise and emerald waters make it a picture-perfect destination and have certainly helped it become a very popular destination among locals and travellers alike.
Nature friendly activities to do in Lake of Sainte Croix
Surrounded by many villages and luxuriant nature and lavender fields, the Lake of Saint Croix can be visited in many ways.
Whether you’re in the mood for a cultural road trip along its banks, a hiking holiday with breath taking walks between hills and lavender or a more relaxed and slow day at the beach.
A water activities paradise
A very popular way to enjoy the lake, are of course nautical activities. The particularity of this destination is that motorized activities are forbidden on its waters to avoid pollution.
The must-do itinerary on the lake is to sail up to the entrance of the gorges from the Galetas Bridge.
The lake is bordered by three main beaches in the villages of Les Salles-sur-Verdon, Bauduen and Sainte-Croix, each of them have developed watersports centers where you can rent electric boats, paddles, kayaks and windsurfs.
These beaches also have the advantage of being lifeguarded in the high season, which make them quite popular among tourists.
If you’re looking for a more hidden and intimate beach, you’ll surely find your perfect spot among one of its many creeks and smaller beaches that are sometimes less easy to access.
Storms and windy conditions can happen fast in Provence, so make sure you check the weather conditions before you head on the water.
Hiking or cycling tours of the Lake of Sainte Croix
Another great way of visiting this pearl of Verdon, is to walk along its hiking trails or find a cycling itinerary.
Since 2018, hikers can enjoy a 74-kilometer hiking trail (GRP) around the lake and crossing its villages. The full itinerary can be done in 5 to 6 days.
The Lake is also on the tracks of the GR99 and offers many possibilities for a short or intense day of hiking whether you are a beginner of an experienced hiker.
For those who prefer cycling, many itineraries are possible, for a day trip or a full round trip in the region by bike.
One thing is sure, whether you choose to hike or cycle around the lake, you’ll get stunning views all along the way.
Visit some of France’s most beautiful villages
The lake of Sainte Croix is also a great destination for those willing to discover the cultural heritage of this lovely region and many villages are worth a stop.
This charming village, a few minutes away from the Galetas Bridge, was elected “Plus Beau Village de France” in the early 1980s.
The village part of the Natural Regional Parc of Verdon as well as the UNESCO Haute-Provence Geoparc is very famous for its ceramic tradition. The ceramics made in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie were known as the “finest of the kingdom” at the time of Louis XIV.
An art that you can discover at the different craft workshops throughout the village but also at the Faïence museum, that counts a remarkable collection of 300 masterpieces of ceramics across 5 centuries.
This historical village above the lake offers magnificent views on the lake of Sainte Croix and the Verdon Canyon alike.
The village is nice stop for a stroll through narrow and charming streets or a discovery of its woodcarving museum, open in summer.
A short distance away from the Lake, this charming village, certified station verte, is home to Europe’s largest prehistoric museum. After visiting the museum, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Baune Bomme Cave, discovered in 1946. This classified historical site can be visited after a one-hour guided hike that is well worth the effort.
A must-see stop for history enthusiasts, or a stroll in the medieval village but also a destination which’s limestone cliffs are renown among rock-climbing enthusiasts.
Whether you choose to visit the Lake Sainte Croix region by bike, hiking or simply enjoying a relaxing day on the beach, remember that you’re in the heart of a preserved natural area : take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
Ever visited the Lake of Sainte Croix, come share your best activities in the comments