10 Best Lakes In France For Paddling

Best Lakes In France For Paddling

Want to enjoy a fun and refreshing activity when you are on vacation? Here are the best lakes in France for paddling.

Metropolitan France has a wide variety of landscapes. Steep mountains, green valleys, extensive plains, a marine coastline… The good thing is that there is always a corner that suits us. 

Moreover, this lake country has three types of lakes: mountainous, plain, and coastal. They can be natural or artificial, filled with fresh or saltwater, but it’s always a pleasure to dive in! 

You can also find lakes in France for paddling. This activity has recently become democratized: it was previously the prerogative of Polynesian kings between a canoe and modern surfing.

Whether you have a good sporting level or not, whether you are alone or with others, you can enjoy it. Travelvibe invites you to discover the best spots to indulge in this modern sport so pleasant during the summer.

10 Best Lakes In France For Paddling

1. Lake Sainte Croix (Var/Alpes de Haute-Provence)

Difficulty: easy

Duration of the ride: 2 hours 30

Essentials of the ride: lounging on one of the three beaches

Lake Sainte-Croix is a large expanse of turquoise water created in 1973. It is located on the Verdon, a sublime river in southeastern France. Forbidden to motorboats, the site is ideal for the practice of gentle nautical activity.

Besides kayaking and pedal boating, it is one of the best lakes to paddle in France. It is also arguably one of the sunniest, with 300 days of sunshine a year.

Lake Sainte-Croix has three superb beaches: the ideal is to determine your itinerary during the launch and get started. You will have to think about sunscreen, and it hits hard in summer!

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2. Lake Bourget (Savoie)

Difficulty: easy

Duration of the ride: 3 hours 

Essential of the walk: the Royal Abbey of Hautecombe

Savoy is an extraordinary territory between plains, valleys, and vertiginous mountains. Green, the department even includes one of the prettiest lakes to paddle in France, and visitors know it. 

They come from all over Europe to enjoy Lake Bourget and its 44 km² of happiness! It is surrounded by hills and bordered by many beaches and leisure bases. 

At Travelvibe, we recommend that you go to Aix-les-Bains, a pretty town by the lake. It’s the easiest way to park near this magnificent body of water.

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3. Lake Pavin (Puy-de-Dôme)

Difficulty: not very difficult 

Duration of the ride: 1-hour 

Essentials of the walk: the panorama of Puy de Montchal

This is a lake where paddleboarding in France is a must for us. Lake Pavin is a lake of volcanic origin located in the Dore Mountains, Auvergne. It is part of the territory of the commune of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise. Yes, yes, the resort of Super-Besse is right next door!

The lake forms an almost perfect circle with a diameter of 800 meters. Nearly a hundred meters deep, most people who sail or paddle there experience a strange feeling once they reach its center. 

This emblematic body of water of the region can be approached easily. A succulent restaurant borders the shores of the lake, by the way.

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4. Lake Castillon (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)

Difficulty: easy

Duration of the ride: between 2 and 4 hours

Essential of the ride: the impressive sundial of the dam

This beautiful body of water is undoubtedly one of the best places to paddle in France. 

It’s pretty simple: if you liked the lake of Sainte-Croix, you would appreciate that of Castillon. It stretches for about ten kilometers between Castellane and Saint-André-les-Alpes. 

The surrounding mountains are reflected in the green waters of the body of water. Once on your paddle, why not try to reach one of the supervised beaches that punctuate your course?

And if you prefer to live a private moment in peace, head to the coves of the lake. These are real mini-fjords! Finally, the sundial is an exceptional work to discover on site.

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5. Lake Serre-Ponçon (Hautes-Alpes)

Difficulty: not very difficult 

Duration of the ride: 3 hours

Essential of the walk: discover the island and its chapel

If you’re in France looking for paddling, why not go there and enjoy what it has to offer? In the Hautes-Alpes department, in the heart of the Southern Alps, Lake Serre-Ponçon is a spot of choice. 

It has 80 km of shoreline lined with landscaped beaches and beautiful coves that are not like the others. 300 days of sunshine a year and simple road access make it the reference for water sports in the area.

You can start your walk on the side of Sabines or Embrun or even Chorges. The itineraries are numerous, but we recommend that you go to the Saint-Michel chapel. Located on an islet, it was to be destroyed but was eventually preserved.

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6. Lake Monteynard-Avignonet (Isère)

Difficulty: easy

Duration of the ride: 2 hours

Essential of the ride: followed by the footbridges that overlook the waters

Travelvibe is delighted to introduce you to one of the best lakes to paddle in France. It is very well located and easy to access as it is less than half an hour from Grenoble. 

It is at the gates of Trièves, a small region south of Isère, that you can appreciate this fantastic natural setting. You can also go from one bank to another by taking vertiginous Himalayan footbridges!

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7. Lake Oô (Haute-Garonne)

Difficulty: not very difficult 

Duration of the ride: 1 hour

Essential of the ride: the waterfall of Lake Espingo of nearly 300 meters

This superb site of Oô (…) is undoubtedly one of the finest places to paddle in France. The 42-hectare park, which is 1,500 meters above sea level, is pretty cool all year round. 

It is a pleasant little detour close to Toulouse and the Occitan cities. There is no nautical base on-site, so you have to bring back your equipment or rent it beforehand. The waters are cold without being icy. Come on, give it a try!

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8. Lake Geneva (Haute-Savoie)

Difficulty: sometimes difficult 

Duration of the ride: Between 3 and 4 hours

 Essential of the ride: the famous water jet of Geneva

What an exceptional place to indulge in the practice of this enchanting sport. Lake Geneva is a magnificent lake where you can paddle in France. 

Its crescent shape is so characteristic, and France and Switzerland share it, so it is a must-see.

Dominated by the Alps, Geneva or the spa town of Evian-les-Bains are very close. You will find a lot of modern and reasonably priced leisure bases on the Thonon side. The funny thing is that you can paddleboard several times across the border without realizing it!

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9. Lake Salagou (Hérault)

Difficulty: easy

Duration of the ride: between 2 and 3 hours

Essential of the ride: discover the famous ruffe with incredible colors

This is a lake where paddleboarding in France is a must. Located in the Hérault in Occitanie, you will enjoy an exceptional panorama of this Natura 2000 classified site. 

Spectacular geological wonders dominate Salagou. Mount Liausson, bound by the lake to the north, and the Cirque de Mourèze to the south, dominate the landscape.

In summer, it is frequented by lovers of long walks or mountain bikes, windsurfers, and of course, paddlers! Lake Salagou allows you to leave the beaches of the Hérault coast for a sunny day. Enjoy!

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10. Lake Gérardmer (Vosges)

Difficulty: quite difficult 

Duration of the ride: between 2 and 4 hours

Essential of the ride: the… geese accompanying you

Lastly, here is Gérardmer Lake to complete these top places to paddle in France. It is located at 660 meters above sea level and remains the largest natural lake in the Vosges with 155 hectares of surface. The site has always been one of the best lakes to paddle in France, and visitors know it.

The site is quite suitable for this practice. You will have the opportunity to walk along the green banks of the Vosges mountains in the company of… geese. 

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Practical information of paddling in France

Cost of Paddling In France

Renting a paddleboard in France costs between €10 per hour and €180 per day. 

This price range is very wide: this is explained by the great diversity of the material. Stand-up paddles of all sizes and varying performances can be found! These rates are quite similar to one another, regardless of the lake chosen.

Some Practical Tips for Paddling in France you can enjoy it 

Here is some additional information before you decide to paddle in France:

● The speeds reached in the paddle are pretty low but not necessarily those of other boaters. The priority on the right always applies to the lake: never forget it!

● Think about sunscreen and carrying a bottle of water and cereal bars in a small backpack. In summer, avoid taking the course during the hottest hours: you’ll get sunburned!

● This sporting activity is subject to weather conditions. Your day can turn into a disaster in case of rain, even on a lake!

● Bring a comfortable and solid outfit.

● The life jacket is not mandatory, but it is essential.

● Some lakes have strong currents and can be dangerous if they host a dam. Make use of the advice given during the rental to get the most out of your glide.

● Finally, be sure to follow the instructions provided at the launch to make the most of this extraordinary moment!

So, when are you planning to paddle?

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