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Despite its enormous variety of natural beauty, we don't perhaps usually associate France with lakes. But there are actually lakes in almost all regions of France that deserve exploring, from small mountain lakes in the Alps to the large leisure lakes near the Atlantic Coast of south-west France and from the many lakes of the Dombes Plateau to the quiet lakes of the high Limousin and Auvergne plateaux.

Of the lakes we have chosen below, some are very large and some are rather small, some are very well known while others are almost unheard of...

It is also true that some of these French lakes are very easy to visit while others are in rather inaccessible locations, but our goal is more to remind visitors to France that there are also lovely lakes to enjoy, rather than to provide a 'checklist' of lakes to visit. So they are not shown in any particular order of preference!

Ten lovely French lakes

Lake Serre-Ponçon

Location: Hautes-Alpes & Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Serre-Ponçon lake is the second largest artificial lake in Europe when measured by volume and the third largest by surface area. It was created by the building of the dam of the same name. Various leisure villages and resorts including Embrun have developed around the edges of the lake which is a popular summer destination.

Lake Montriond

Location: Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes)

The Lac de Montriond is in a lovely position surrounded by mountains. It is always popular with anglers and hikers who enjoy following the path around the lake. Montriond Lake is a natural lake formed by a rockfall, although additional work has been carried out to ensure the water level stays relatively constant.

 
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Lake Mont Blanc

Location: Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes

The Lac Blanc is in the Aiguilles Rouges Massif near Chamonix. At an altitude of more than 2300 metres it is the stunning views across the lake to Mont Blanc that make it exceptional.

Lake Guichard

Location: Savoie, Rhône-Alpes

Lac Guichard is in a stunningly beautiful mountain location in the Alps, near Oisans and overlooking the craggy form of the Aiguilles d'arve.

Lake Bort-les-Orgues and Chateau de Val

Location: Cantal, Auvergne

How could we not include this lovely view of the Chateau de Val on the shores of Bort-les-Orgues in the Limousin! The lake was formed when a dam was built on the uper Dordogne river.

Lake Arvouin

Location: Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes

The little Lac d'Arvouin is certainly one of the smallest we have selected, but its position in the Val d'Abondance and the lake surroundings make it a very lovely lake to visit.

Lake Saint Pardoux

Location: Haute-Vienne, Limousin

Saint-Pardoux Lake is a popular leisure lake in the heart of the Limousin region of south-central France.

 
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Lake Annecy

Location: Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes

Lake Annecy is a very large lake, surrounded by beautiful towns (including Annecy itself, one of the loveliest towns in France) and villages as well as awesome scenery - see Lake Annecy guide for details.

Lake Grandvaux

Location: Jura, Franche-Comté

There is much to love in Jura in north-east France, including this scenic view across Grandvaux lake to the abbey on the other side.

Lake Aiguebelette

Location: Savoie: Rhône-Alpes

Fishermen taking advantage of the early morning peace on Aiguebelette lake, one of the largest natural lakes in France and just a few kilometres from Chambery.

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