Lake of Serre-Ponçon

Imagined in the middle of the 19th century following the floods of 1843 and 1856 which ravaged the region, and finally built in the 20th century, the lake of Serre-Ponçon seems surprisingly large in this setting of high mountains, it is even the largest artificial lake in metropolitan France. The Girl and The River, a movie imagined by the famous French author Jean Giono, retraces the history of the construction of the dam and the displacement of certain villages. Currently, this stretch, fed by the Durance and Ubaye rivers, serves as a reserve for irrigating fields and producing electricity. The water ends up in the Rhône or in the Étang de Berre. The lake of Serre-Ponçon has become a reference in terms of multi-use management of water.

Today the lake of Serre-Ponçon is a real sea in the mountains, with beaches perched on top of the mountains, its 2,800 hectares and an exceptional amount of sunshine (almost 300 days a year). The sublime setting in which the lake of Serre-Ponçon is housed has undoubtedly contributed to the transformation of this retention basin into a real tourist destination.

The Muséoscope du lac retraces, thanks to a visual and sound trail, the history of the construction of the dam of Serre-Ponçon. This event was a real upheaval for the population living on the edge of the Hautes-Alpes department and the Ubaye. The museum presents to the public testimonies of people who had to leave their village and the houses in which they had lived in order for the dam to be filled with water.

Nearby towns and villages

To enjoy a beautiful view of the lake of Serre-Ponçon, the ideal is to go to Saint-Vincent-les-Forts. This village is perched on the side of a rocky spur at an altitude of 1,280 meters and is surrounded by nature. In winter, the hiking trails that border Saint-Vincent-les-Forts become nice trails to discover with snowshoes.

Savines-le-Lac is one of the villages that were relocated for the construction of the Serre-Ponçon dam. In 700 years, Savines-le-Lac has known three locations. The first was abandoned for natural reasons following the French Revolution. The second was demolished so that the retention lake could be built. Since then the village has not moved anymore and has specialized in welcoming tourists.

Embrun, nicknamed the Nice of the Alps, is a visit not to be missed. Its label “Ville et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire” (French Towns and Lands of Art and History) is the assurance of a detour rich in discoveries. The Embrun Cathedral and its Lombard-inspired architecture are the jewel of the village. Its magnificent bell tower dominates the whole village, its original facade is punctuated with black and grey stones. History enthusiasts will certainly make a stop at Boscodon Abbey, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.

Lakes in Southeastern France