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With its seemingly endless expanse of spectacular turquoise waters and pristine white sand beaches, Lac de Sainte Croix is one of the most beautiful lakes in southern France. It is known for its unbelievable shades of blue, so intense and arresting that people come from far and wide to experience its aesthetic beauty.
Lac de Sainte Croix is the largest of the four "Verdon Lakes," all connected by the Verdon River in the Provence region of southeastern France. The other three lakes are Lac d'Esparron de Verdon, Lac de Quinson, and Lac de Castillon. The Verdon River flows into Lake Saint Croix at the gorgeous Galetas bridge (Pont de Galetas), where daredevils can try their luck at bungee jumping.
The third largest lake in the country, Lac de Sainte Croix boasts 5,436 acres of surface area and a maximum depth of about 305 feet. Situated 1,558 feet above sea level, the body of water is nine miles long and 2.5 miles wide at its widest point. Saint Croix Lake's most relaxing beaches can be found along its southeastern side, while the best hiking trails can be explored in the northwest.
Water levels at Lac de Sainte Croix are controlled by the Barrage de Sainte Croix, a thin-arch hydroelectric construction located at the Baudinard Gorge. The dam was completed in 1975 by Electricite de France, and since then has supplied nearby towns with electricity and water. During Lac de Sainte Croix's dam's construction, most of the town of Les Salles-sur-Verdon was sunk 130 feet underwater while the rest was moved to higher ground.
Although no motor boats are permitted on Lac de Sainte Croix, electric vessels are allowed. Swimming, sailing, boating and windsurfing are extremely popular here; kayaking, pedal boating and catamaran tours are also available. Facilities at Saint Croix Lake include picnic areas, public beaches, life guards and an equestrian center on the northwest shore. Boating centers can be found at Les Salles sur Verdon, Sainte Croix du Verdon and Bauduen.
Anglers find great success fishing for trout, zander, pike, black bass, perch, carp and white fish at Saint Croix Lake. The best place to cast is around the lake's large island. Guests should note that fishing after dark is prohibited, as is visiting the lake at night.
The Observatoire Astronomique de Bauden is also located on the southern end of Lac de Ste Croix, an observatory perfect for exploring the solar system. Night classes are offered for interested stargazers. Various horseback riding trails in the region are ideal for equine lovers, and camping amenities are available nearby for overnight stays.
Lac de Sainte Croix is nestled in the middle of the Verdon Regional National Park, which encompasses five artificial lakes and the Verdon Canyons. The 444,790-acre park is home to over 1/3 of France's plant species, as well as animals such as griffon vultures, bats, chamois, and deer. Only 21,857 people live in the park, making the population density about 11 people per square kilometer. Real estate properties and vacation rentals are available.
Rock climbing at Le Verdon, just a short distance from Lac du Sainte Croix, is great for an intense workout. Here you'll find more than 900 routes, including the 1,000-foot challenge known as "la falaise de l'escales." While there are trails available for all skill levels, beginners should never set off without a guide. Quinson, Moustiers Ste. Marie, Castellane and the Gorges du Verdon are positively stunning.
Lac de Sainte Croix features numerous attractions nearby, just perfect for daytrips. Geologists will be fascinated by the calcareous rock cliffs formed by erosion at the Verdon Canyons. Here you can enjoy tubing, kayaking, paragliding and rock climbing. Canyoning into valleys up to 2,300 feet deep can be done between May and the end of November (and year round in dry gorges). Whitewater rafting is best between April and June, when the snow melts and raises water levels. Haut Verdon and Moyen Verdon can also be navigated with a knowledgeable guide.
Archeological buffs shouldn't miss the Museum of Prehistory of the Gorges du Verdon in Quinson, inside the Regional Natural Park of Verdon and close to Lac de Sainte Croix. It exhibits at least 400,000 artifacts that were excavated from 60 sites in the Verdon Canyon. Displays showcase over one million years of human progress in the area.
Also nearby is the village of Aiguines, a beautiful area known for its phenomenal vistas of Lac de Sainte Croix and the Plateau de Valensole. On the western side of the city you'll find a Rennaisance-style castle from the 1600s, along with a beautiful bell tower and sundial from 1785. Just northwest of Lake Saint Croix, the Plateau of Valensole turns into a sea of lavender during June and July.
Lake Saint Croix is sure to provide an unforgettable vacation for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Its convenient location and irresistible charm make it the perfect headquarters for day trips throughout southern France.
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