2016 Mountain activities
The larger well-known lakes aren’t the only places in which to take a dip or enjoy water sports! Our mountains are veritable freshwater reservoirs bursting with rivers, waterfalls, man-made lakes and other water-based activity sites. Here are 5 for you to (re)discover this summer.
Reaching a height of 90 metres, the Saint-Benoît waterfall in Avrieux, near Aussois, is often described as a giant sprinkler! Walkers can feel its spray on their cheeks as they get closer. This splendid waterfall plunges into a shallow stream of the same name, where children can bathe or have fun building little stone dams. From Aussois, allow a 40-minute walk to get to the site, which served as the backdrop for the film The Crimson Rivers. Its grassy shores are a prized lunchtime picnic site for families. Located near the Forts de l'Esseillon, the waterfall is also accessible from the car park in just 10 minutes.
Les Gillardes Springs
France’s second largest natural water source after Fontaine de Vaucluse, Les Gillardes Springs in the Le Dévoluy mountain range numbers among the Alps’ many remarkable geological sites. These springs gush out from a field of enormous stone blocks in the Défilé de la Souloise and its vibrant waters extend over thirty metres before feeding Lake Sautet below. Overlooking their shady site and ideal for an outdoor picnic or little al fresco nap is La Falaise des Voûtes, where René Desmaison loved to climb.
Le lac des Hermines
This 14-hectare stretch of artificial water was built in the late 1960s in Super Besse. It’s somewhere you can swim, learn to windsurf, take out a canoe or pedalo, or even go fly-fishing. Lake Hermines is also equipped with a supervised aquafun area, boasting a range of inflatables for diving, climbing, walking or rolling across the water like a hamster ball in the case of the water-rollers, which are inflatable transparent spheres. New for this summer is access to Parc Aventure, an invaluable location in the event of bad weather. This recreational area features a climbing frame, climbing adventure area, climbing wall, bowling alley and even modular games to suit different age ranges (0-3 years, 4-12 years).
You might not be allowed to swim in Lac Blanc in the resort of the same name, in Lac Noir or in Lac des Truites, the highest in Les Vosges (1,066 metres), but you can still enjoy their cool banks and even dip your toes into their dark waters. These three Kayserberg Valley lakes, which can be walked between in a 4½ hr circuit, invite you to take a fantastic hike at the heart of the Tanet-Gazon du Faing nature reserve. You simply must try the blueberry tarts at the Auberge du Forlet on the shores of Lac des Truites! Lovers of peace and quiet can escape on foot all the way to Lac Vert in the depths of Munster Valley (an extra 45 minute walk from Lac des Truites, but also accessible by car).
Lac du Boum
Situated on the Peyresourde mountainside of Peyragudes resort, the Lac du Boum de Soulas is accessible in an hour of easy walking (or in 20 minutes using the Privilège chair lift on Wednesdays and Thursdays). Nestled in a small valley at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, it is home to a pretty picnic spot where you can cool your feet off on very hot days! You can also learn how to fly-fish in its dark blue waters. Try to catch one of the silver-skinned, pink-fleshed brown trout that love the lively waters of mountain rivers and the peaceful calm of mountain lakes in equal measure.
Text ©Actumontagne for France Montagnes
©Alban Pernet/OT Aussois
©Gilles Piel Estelle Perdu/OT Dévoluy
©OT du Sancy
©OT de Kaysersberg
© OT Peyragudes