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13 Magical Lakes in France That Will Enchant You

France is a magical country renowned for its natural beauty. It’s characterized by a range of geological features, from flat plains to rolling hills and towering mountains. Among each of these landforms, you’ll find wildly enchanting lakes in France.

These lakes (or lac in French) possess outstanding beauty. Clear waters are surrounded by unspoiled landscapes; these scenes have a way of clearing your head and removing the worries of everyday life.

Along the lakes, you’ll also find small and charming European cities you might not know about. These make a  wonderful addition to any lake visit.

Here are the 13 most beautiful lakes in France that will leave you spellbound.

Lac de Gaube
Lac de Gaube

13 Beautiful Lakes in France

1. Lac d’Annecy

Lake Annecy france
Lake Annecy france

Lac d’Annecy resides in the Haute-Savoie region of France. It’s often regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes. Fed by mountain springs, it’s known for its clean, crystal clear water.

Backed by the majestic Alps, it has an atmosphere of pure tranquillity. This is the type of place made for holiday goers who can enjoy a range of activities, including swimming, fishing, rowing, and boating.

Lac d’Annecy

There are also paved paths along the shoreline that are perfect for a scenic stroll or bike ride.

The charming medieval city of Annecy looks out over the lake. It’s known for its attractive old town, which features cobbled streets outlined by pastel-coloured buildings.

⇒ Book a Annecy Segway tour

2. Lac de Serre-Ponçon

Set in southeast France, Lac de Serre-Ponçon is one of the largest artificial lakes in Western Europe. It was made in the 1960s as part of the area’s flood control management project.

The setting is dramatically beautiful. In some areas, you’ll find a rugged coastline where towering mountains drop directly into the clear blue water. In other areas, you’ll find rolling hills gently touching the accessible beach.

Lac de Serre-Ponçon
Lac de Serre-Ponçon

Visitors are allowed to camp along the lake. Aquatic activities like swimming, sailing, and windsurfing are also popular.

In the middle of the lake sits a small chapel, Chapelle Saint-Michel. It was originally built in the 12th century, but following its destruction by armed forces, it was rebuilt at the end of the 17th century.

Lac de Serre-Ponçon

The church and the small island that surrounds it can be reached on foot during winter and early spring, as the water levels are lower during this period.

3. Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

The pristine Lake Geneva is a crescent-shaped lake that slices through Switzerland and France. It’s one of the largest lakes in Western Europe and is as photogenic as they come. Surrounded by the Alps, it has an atmosphere of pure gaiety and offers many opportunities to enjoy nature.

There are plenty of opportunities for sailing, boating, rowing, sunbathing, swimming, and leisurely lakeside strolls.

Lake Geneva lake in france
Lake Geneva lake in france

⇒ Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Don’t miss my posts on 14 Great Things to do in Verbier that aren’t skiing and 20 Reasons to Visit Verbier in Summer.

The French town of Évian-les-Bains rests near the middle portion of the lake. This popular spa town is famous for its mineral water and wonderfully preserved 19th-century and early 20th-century buildings.

The city of Geneva sits at its southern tip. This is the second most populated city in Switzerland. It features beautiful mountain scenery, wonderful architecture, and countless chocolate shops.

⇒ Book a Geneva City Tour and Boat Cruise

Lake Geneva france
Lake Geneva france

4. Lac du Salagou

Located 30 minutes from Montpellier, you’ll find the artificial Lac du Salagou. It was created in the 1960s to irrigate the valley.

The soil has a reddish-brown colour which is caused by iron oxide in the sandstone rock. It’s quite a distinctive look, especially compared to other French lakes. The water is a turquoise blue which contrasts wonderfully with the surrounding.

Lac du Salagou
Lac du Salagou

The lake is an all-around wonderful place to explore the great outdoors. It’s a popular spot for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing. With 27 kilometres of trails around the lake, it’s also a nice spot for hiking and mountain biking.

The tiny village of Celles rests on the north-western shore. It was abandoned when the lake was created, as the water level was predicted to drown the area.

Lac du Salagou france
Lac du Salagou france

However, the plans changed and the water never rose enough to submerge the buildings.

It looked like a ghost town for many years, but recently, new inhabits have moved to the village and have slowly started to rebuild.

⇒ Book a Montpellier Segway Tour of the new and old city

5. Lac de Sainte-Croix

Lac de Sainte Croix

Lac de Sainte-Croix is a man-made lake that was built from 1971 to 1974. It was formed from the Sainte Croix dam crossing over the Verdun River. Smaller lakes are also connected to the larger body of water and it’s bordered by forests, hills, and beaches.

The water is a stunning turquoise colour and there are several pleasant swimming areas with lifeguards on duty during the warmer months. Kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, and pedal boating are also commonly enjoyed by visitors.

Lac de Sainte-Croix
Lac de Sainte-Croix

The small village of Les Salles-sur-Verdon sits next to the lake. Although the land the village rests on was first developed in the Gallo-Roman era, it was destroyed when the lake was created in the 70s.

For this reason, the village is a bit more modernized but features wonderfully scenic views and tourist attractions, like restaurants and hotels.

6. Lac du Der-Chantecoq

Lac du Der-Chanteco is the largest artificial lake in France. It’s located in the Northeastern region of the country, in Champagne-Ardenne. The lake was built in 1974 to regulate the flow of the River Marne, which helps to prevent the flooding of the Seine River.

Lac du Der-Chantecoq france
Lac du Der-Chantecoq france

Lake Der-Chantecoq has six beaches made of fine sand, making it a popular area for water sports. Visitors can enjoy activities like windsurfing, rowing, sailing, jet-skiing, and fishing.

It’s also outlined by 77 kilometres of landscaped terrain that’s ideal for walking, running, and cycling.

Lac du Der-Chantecoq
Lac du Der-Chantecoq

Several observation points are dotted along the edges of the water that provide nature-lovers with a chance to admire the local wildlife. Various species of birds stopover on their migration here, including the common crane. 

7. Lac de Gaube

Lac de Gaube
Lac de Gaube

⇒ If you like beautiful European towns check out my posts on Saint Antonin Noble Val and Tarn et Garonne in France, 30 Famous Landmarks in France, 25 Famous Paris Monuments, 37 Fascinating Facts About Paris, 32 Most Beautiful Cities in France, What is France Famous For? 33 French Icons, Best Hotels in Paris with a View, 10 Beautiful Bridges in France, 35 Things to do in Bordeaux, 15 Highlights of the South West of France, 10 Beautiful Lakes in France and the 6 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Paris

Lac de Gaube is located in the gorgeous French Pyrenees, near the town of Cauterets. It’s a place of stunning beauty, with clear blue water surrounded by sharp mountains. 

To access the lake, a cable car runs from the Pont d’Espagne in Cauterets. Or, for more active travellers, you can take an hour-long hike through the forest.

The trail is absolutely magical and features captivating panoramic views. When you arrive, you can rest your feet in the cool water.

Lac de Gaube
Lac de Gaube

The small spa town of Cauterets is 12 kilometres (30-minute drive) from Gaube Lake. A scenic hiking path connects the lake with the village. It’s about a 1.5-hour hike. Alternatively, it can be reached by chairlift from the Pont d’Espagne.

8. Lac du Bourget

Located at the southern end of the Jura Mountains in Savoie, Lac du Bourget is a beautiful lake surrounded by a gorgeous landscape. It was formed by glacial action thousands of years ago and is the deepest lake in France, with a maximum depth of 145 metres.

Lac du Bourget
Lac du Bourget

The quiet coastline offers many water sports and seaside activities. It has an idyllic charm, with towering mountains on one side and quaint French villages on the other.

The luxurious spa town of Aix-les-Bains rests along the shoreline. Famed for its therapeutic hot springs, Roman ruins, shopping streets, and museums, it’s a wonderful place to plan a holiday.

Lac du Bourget France
Lac du Bourget France

9. Lac du Mont-Cenis

Lac du Mont Cenis

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Lac du Mont-Cenis is located in Southeastern France, in the Savoie. It resides on the plateau of the same name. It’s an artificial lake that was created in the 1960s after the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

The majestic landscape features turquoise water framed by wildflowers and tall mountain peaks. It’s a feast for the eyes with hundreds of colours on display.

Lac du Mont-Cenis
Lac du Mont-Cenis

Swimming and water sports are not permitted due to strong underwater currents. However, the setting is perfect for a picnic or a hike along the shores.

10. Lac de Castillon

Lac de Castillon is a reservoir in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. It was the first artificial lake to be built along the Verdon Valley and it sits in the centre of the Verdon National Park.

Lac de Castillon
Lac de Castillon

The beautiful stretch of emerald-coloured water is as smooth as glass in several areas and framed by tall mountains. It’s a popular swimming lake with lifeguards on duty at the beaches. For the sporty types, the lake offers canoeing, pedalling, paddle boarding, motor boating, and sailing.

The sleepy little village of Saint-Julien-du-Verdon has a water sports centre where you can rent out sporting equipment and boats. It also contains several scenic walking paths that boost incredible lake views.

Lac de Castillon
Lac de Castillon

11. Lac de Capitello

This small alpine lake is located on the French owned island of Corsica. It is in the Restonica Valley and is the deepest lake in Corsica. This lake isn’t a big tourist attraction so you may well have it all to yourself. Whilst you are visiting you could also pop in and see Lac de Melo. There is a hiking path between the two lakes but it is quite challenging.

Lac de Capitello
Lac de Capitello

12. Lac d’Aiguebelette

Lac d’Aiguebelette is one of the largest natural lakes in France. The lake is 71 metres deep and it covers over 5 square kilometres. There are seven hot springs in the lake and it is known for its beautiful blue/green colour. It is located in the Savoie region and has several hiking trails. Head to the church at St Alban de Montbel for the best views.

Lac d'Aiguebelette
Lac d’Aiguebelette

13. Lac d’Allos

This is the largest natural high altitude lake in Europe at 2,230 metres. It is located in the south of France in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in Parc National du Mercantour. The nearby Mont Pelat gives a beautiful contrast to the lake in photos. Lac d’Allos covers 60 hectares and has a depth of 50 metres.

Lac d'allos france
Lac d’allos

Beautiful Lakes in France: Final Thoughts

If you’re travelling to France, a visit to any one of these beautiful lakes will provide a nice break from the cities. No matter the month, the scenery is always spectacular. Take a leisurely stroll next to the shore, glide over the water in a canoe or kayak, or have a go at an exciting water sport.

You’ll be able to connect with nature in the best possible way and discover a different side of France.

Lake Geneva

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This lakes in France post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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