Lake Serre-Ponçon

Max. Length 20 km
Max. Width 3 km
Surface Area 28 sq km
Average Depth 90 m
Surface Elevation 780 m

Lake Serre Poncon is an artificial lake in the southern French Alps. The lake is located on the border of both the Hautes Alpes and Alpes de Haute Provence departments in Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur. It is located in a strong tourist destination with many activities on offer. It is known as ‘Sea in the Mountain’.

This lake was created thanks to the establishment of a dam aimed at taming the Durance River, a tributary of the Rhône River. Before the dam, floods were commonplace and people had to be relocated with some villages being immersed. The construction of the 120 metre high dam ended in 1961. Lake Serre Poncon today supplies 16 hydroelectric power stations, which represents 10% of French hydroelectric production. The lake water is also used for irrigation, as well as drinking and industrial use. The preservation of the Serre Poncon Lake is operated by a local association ensuring the water quality as well as the management of the related ecotourism.

Lake Serre Poncon Activities

The lake has several ports and landing stages at your disposal. There are 5 public ports (Prunieres, Baie St Michel, Chanteloube, Savines le Lac, Saint Pierre) and 2 small piers in Rousset and St Vincent les Forts. They have different boat capacities and facilities; some of them have water clubs thus offering various activities.

You can navigate the lake by lake sailing, by catamaran, sailing boat, pedalo or windsurfing. Do not worry if you are novice as there are many water clubs around the lake providing lessons. A boat ride in bateau-mouche is a must for sightseeing.

Various sport activities are also available: water skiing, kite surfing, jet skiing and canoeing. You can rent the equipment as well as book lessons. Kids will not be disappointed as dedicated activities are on offer such as ‘baby raft’. For those preferring more relaxing hobbies, swimming, fishing and sunbathing are of course available.

Lake Serre Poncon Tourism and Culture

The Serre Poncon area is synonymous with water, sun and outstanding mountain scenery. Some places of interest and events are listed below:

  • Savines le lac: situated in middle of the Serre Poncon Lake and Hautes Alpes, this tourist village is not to miss. It is part of the Stations Vertes label. With 300 sunny days a year and many activities on offer, it is the ideal location if you want to spend relaxing holidays within green surroundings.
  • Rousset: Rousset is a picturesque hamlet bordering the lake. It offers an enchanted panoramic viewpoint of both the dam and the lake. The local ‘great village fete’ celebrates traditions and organizes several authentic activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides and a street art festivals.
  • Museoscope of the lake: this museum recounts the history of the Serre Poncon Lake, its dam and its engulfed villages. The museum has visual and audio presentations.
  • Demoiselles Coiffées (Cheminée de fée): could be translated as ‘young ladies with nice hair’. They are found along the eastern side of the Serre Poncon Lake. They are a striking set of tapered rock columns topped with other large rocks balanced on their tips. The rocks were first intended to protect the monuments from erosion but it has then given birth to numerous legends, making it one of the outstanding places of interest in the region.