To access the little paradise of Lac de Sainte-Croix you will probably drive through Valensole. A mild winter and a hot dry summer (with more than 300 days of sunshine a year!), Valensole is a post-card place! Landscapes, smells, colors, and a rich heritage make its plateau a true holiday destination. If you’re lucky enough to be there during the summer months, you’ll have it all: lavender, sunflowers, and… tourists!!! Enjoy a photo session amongst the flowers then head off to the emerald green lake – Le Lac de Ste Croix.
The third largest lake in France covers an area of 2200 hectares (10 kilometers long and 2 wide). The dam, built at the mouth of the gorge near Baudinard, holds 760 million cubic meters of water and produces more than 150 million kWh per year.
The project to drown the Salles Valley by creating a lake on the course of the Verdon goes back to Georges Clemenceau, in 1908. It was not until 1968 that its implementation by Electricité De France was decided. Initially, the lake was to engulf the villages of Salles sur Verdon, Bauduen and make Sainte-Croix du Verdon uninhabitable. The artificial lake was finally created in 1973 following the construction of the Sainte-Croix dam. Sainte-Croix and Bauduen are saved in the end, and the Salles rebuilt away from the water.
There is plenty of space around the lake for everyone so the experience doesn’t have to be “un bain de foule” (a crowd bath) but if you intend to enter the Verdon Canyon, you need to deal with a very busy spot first – from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, follow the direction of Lake St. Croix / Les Salles 6km to the bridge of Galetas.
Then, hopefully, you’ll have your own gear. If not, you’ll have no problem renting
any of these: electric boats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats! You are now ready for the Gorges du Verdon!
Enter the heart of the Grand Canyon, or go explore the secret coves of Lake St. Croix.
No photo filters used here!
The first time we went there, we rented a pedal boat so we have not been able to go very far unfortunatelly. Luckily, we went back several times – with our own kayak – and we’ve managed to leave the crowd behind… Further in the canyon, the water gets less deep, and the noise becomes more “natural”. No more tourists shouting as they pedal under the waterfalls, no more children joyfully jumping off their boats into the water, no more youngsters loudly listening to their music. Suddenly, after about an hour, there is just you, the trees around, the birds high in the air, the water flowing, the trouts swimming beside the kayak…