Lakes & Watersports au Pays du Mont-Blanc (and beyond)

Au Pays du Mont-Blanc we are lucky to have several swimming lakes with stunning mountain views . . . while the perfect spot for strolling and biking in autumn and winter, come the balmy days of spring and summer, the water warms and the lakes start to get busy with bathers and watersport enthusiasts (at Lac de Passy and Lacs des Ilettes: windsurfing, paddle boarding, SUP yoga, sailing, pedalos).  We are also spoiled with natural mountain lakes (ideal for a hike or an iconic reflection photo) and some fishing lakes too.

Further afield (but not too far away) in Haute-Savoie & Savoie (and in Switzerland), are more swimming lakes, some with lovely sandy beaches.

In this article, you will find information about:

  • swimming & watersport lakes;
  • fishing lakes;
  • mountain lakes at altitude;

COLOUR CODE FOR LISTINGS:

Chamonix Valley (Chamonix, Argentière, Les Houches, Servoz & Vallorcine)

Passy & environs

Sallanches, Combloux, Cordon & Domancy

St Gervais, Le Fayet & environs

Megève, Praz-sur-Arly & environs

Les Contamines & environs

Further France

Switzerland


SWIMMING & WATERSPORTS LAKES (PAYS du MONT-BLANC)

Lac de Passy 

Lac de Passy – officially know as a base de loisirs – has plenty of water-based activities on offer for the whole family: stand up paddle (SUP), pedalos, wibit softplay ON the lake, aquabike, mini electric boats, pontoons at the criques end of the lake, sporadic sailing lessons . . . as well as a VTT parcours ludique, playgrounds, pétanque, volleyball, mini-golf, electric trotinettes, mini-karting nearby . . . / eating options: picnics, BBQs (in place on-site), La Buvette des Criques, La Buvette de la Plage, Restaurant du Camping des Iles, Mont-Blanc Plage (see below), L’Ecureuil (renovated campsite restaurant, a short walk away), La Grange de Domancy (a short walk away) / see MBFF post for more information about what’s on offer at Lac de Passy;

Lac de Passy – new amenities 2018 © montblancfamilyfun
© Passy Mont-Blanc Tourisme

upcoming event at Lac de Passy this summer 2018: «Mont-Blanc Triathlon International» – 24th, 25th & 26th August;

Mont-Blanc Triathlon International © Mont-Blanc Triathlon International

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Mont-Blanc Plage (Lacs des Cavettaz, next to Lac de Passy)

The campsite Mont-Blanc Plage (right next to Lac de Passy) has a lovely terraced restaurant decorated with pots of flowers, that looks out over its own private lake (with 45 year old carp, the odd duck, and beautiful water-lilies) . . . if you eat lunch or dinner at the restaurant, then you are allowed to swim in the lake – there is a slide, a diving board and rafts to swim out to. There is a jaded grandeur to this campsite and the restaurant is very tranquil. And there is the added bonus of having a swim, a jump or a slide after eating!

Mont-Blanc Plage © montblancfamilyfun.com

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Lacs des Ilettes (Sallanches)

Lacs des Ilettes are located in Saint-Martin, in Sallanches, and there are 3 lakes, each offering: swimming, fishing or windsurfing (you must bring your own equipment) / other activities: ping-pong tables, volleyball, parcours forme, VTT paths, walks (to Cascade d’Arpenaz), bouncy castles from Le Parc en Folie during the warmer months / eating options: picnic tables & Le Transat (swimming beach) / see MBFF post for more details;

upcoming event at Lacs des Ilettes 2018:  «Tac à Ding» on Sunday 16th September / an obstacle course organised by the Ski Club Sallanches / see here for more details;

© Ski Club de Sallanches

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Plan d’Eau Biotope (Combloux)

The Plan d’Eau Biotope in Combloux is a unique mountain lake with stunning views: the water is purified by plants, so there is no need for chemicals! / activities around the lake in summer: yoga, pilates, Tai Chi and more / spectacles in the summer:  «PianO au Lac» and «Dance sur L’O» (9th August 2018) / eating options: picnics (on blankets) or at tables in adventure playground just above, and Le Dandy restaurant on-site / see MBFF post for more details;

Plan d’Eau Biotope, Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com

upcoming spectacle at Plan d’Eau: «Dance sur L’O» on 9th August 2018 / a dance spectacle on the water!

***

New Plan d’Eau planned for 2020 (Praz-sur-Arly)

Praz-sur-Arly is planning a new plan d’eau near the Base de Loisirs des Belles / for more information, read an article from Praz-sur-Arly Mairie here.

© Abest / Mairie de Praz-sur-Arly

***

Lac de Baignade in Le Parc Patrice Dominguez/Parc du Pontet (Les Contamines-Montjoie)

In the summertime, there is lots of fun to be had at the Parc Patrice Dominguez (Parc du Pontet) in Les Contamines-Montjoie (tennis, mini-golf, archery, donkeys and pony rides, trampolines & bouncy castles, water games, karting and more; see here for more details) / within the park there is the lac de baignade, a small artificial lake with sand and grassy areas for picnics (and an inflatable slide leading into the water) / yoga and fitness classes available during the summer holidays / eating options: picnics, buvette and the Le Chalet du Lac / see here for more details; 

Lac de Baignade Parc Patrice Dominguez © Les Contamines-Montjoie Tourisme

***

Lac de l’Etape (Les Contamines-Montjoie)

A visit to the small Lac de l’Etape in Les Contamines-Montjoie is such a bucolic visit en famille . . . you can either hike up there with older children (or take a 4×4 for non-walkers), or you can take the Télécabine de la Gorge (this is exciting in itself for little ones; opening hours) / once there, children can paddle or swim in the lake, play with pebbles, take out the mini boats, play in the playgrounds . . . and adults can relax with a cold beer on the terrace of the restaurant, right next to the lake! / there are options for more hikes from here (for example, you can take the Télécabine du Signal and then hike to the Auberge de la Roselette, via the Col du Joly) / *good to know – if you stay overnight at the Hôtel Bar Restaurant de l’Etape, then you can take the Télécabine de la Gorge for free! / the MBFF experience: back in 2015, we had an overnight & dinner in the Hôtel Bar Restaurant de l’Etape – it was our luxurious take on a refuge en famille (we weren’t quite ready for dortoirs, being still quite sleep deprived with an 18 month old in tow!) / a visit to this small lake can also combine nicely with the activites on offer in the Parc Patrice Dominguez (Parc du Pontet), or a little overnight camp at the campsite Camping le Pontet


SWIMMING & WATERSPORTS LAKES (A LITTLE FURTHER AFIELD)

Plan d’Eau de l’Arrondine (Flumet)

In Flumet, just past Praz-sur-Arly, is the Plan d’Eau et base de loisirs de l’Arrondine, a lovely little mountain lake / we have really enjoyed our visits to this little lake, located below the village of Flumet, as it is the perfect size to keep an eye on little ones, with a lifeguard cordoned-off area / other amenites: two buvettes (one either end of the lake), a sand-pit and a playground nearby / our last visit took place for the «Fête du Plan d’Eau» (22nd July), which was so much fun with: a waterslide leading into the lake, mini boats, water games, spectacles;

«La Fête du Plan d’Eau» © montblancfamilyfun.com

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TNA Cable Park (Arenthon)

You may have seen TNA cable park on a drive to Geneva/Annemasse, etc . . . from Le Pays du Mont-Blanc . . . at this small lake, you can try out wakeboarding, water-skiing (on a cable), or their new wibit watergames (Aquaparc de Savoie)! / eating options: buvette, BBQs / website;

***

Lac de Montriond (Montriond)

Set below huge cliffs in Montriond, and also know as the lac vert, is the Lac de Montriond / there are a couple of buvettes / lots of walks in the vicinity of the lake / base de loisirs in summertime: special family swimming lake, pony rides, fishing / in winter time, you can practise ice diving here!

***

Base de loisirs du Lac Bleu (Morillon)
The base de loisirs du Lac Bleu in Morillon, with clear water (there is a blue hint, as its water arrives via underground rivers) is located 500m away from Morillon village centre / swimming (lifeguard area), green areas and other loisirs: volleyball, tennis, accrobranches / bouncy castles: Le Mali’s Parc / website;
Morillon’s Lac Bleu © Morillon Tourisme

***

Le Lac des Ecoles (Les Gets)

Les Gets’ Lac des Ecoles has a wibit softplay (pay at caisse to validate créneau horaire to access; for children 6+ years) / there is an entrance fee to access / opening hours: from mid-June until  early September, 11h to 20h / website;

Les Gets’ Lac des Ecoles © Les Gets Tourisme

***

If you would like to try wake-boarding or water-skiing (from a boat, rather than the roped version of TNA Cable Park), sailing or to hire out a small motor-boat, then you will need to head to the larger lakes of Lac d’Annecy, Lac du Bourget or Lac Léman . . .

Lac d’Annecy

Lac d’Annecy is 14,6 km long, and is the second largest glacial lake in France (after Lac du Bourget). It is considered one of the cleanest lakes in France and the average temperature of the water in July is 22°C.  Not far from the Pays du Mont-Blanc, it is a popular spot for a day out. There are plenty of beaches, lakeside walks and water sports to enjoy all around the beautiful lake; here are Lac d’ Annecy Tourisme’s suggestions for family beaches / recommendations from Mummy in the Mountains & Randos en Famille (two Annecy residents, with websites dedicated to family activities/hikes):

  • la Plage Impérial (Annecy) – “waterslide, diving boards of different heights, playground, trampolines, volleyball courts, paddling pool for little ones (with lake water), restaurant, grassy area / central to Annecy / entrance to pay“;
  • Le Pâquier – if you are in the Old Town of Annecy, and fancy taking out a pedalo or small motor boat, head to Le Pâquier pontoon / reservations;
  • Veyrier-du-Lac – “great with kids (paddling pool), but can be difficult to park“;
  • Menthon-Saint-Bernard Mummy in the Mountains: “Beautiful beach, with lots of shaded areas under the trees to set up camp with little ones. There is a small enclosed swimming area which is perfect for them to explore, under supervision. It’s pebbly, so little jelly shoes may be handy / facilities: there is also a small play area with a slide (in sun, gets very hot!) and merry-go-round / parking free / eating options:  restaurant at th port“/ *good to know:also worth mentioning for parents with babies or active toddlers – it’s a nice flat walk down to the port, which is great for settling babies or tiring out youngsters on bikes/scooters” / you can also visit the castle!*;
  • Talloires – especially favoured by Mummy in the Mountains: “views & location are hard to beat: picturesque village, Acro-Aventures Talloires (accrobranches) up above, and plentiful walks! / beach facilities: small diving board, waterslide, platform to swim out to, volleyball, paddling pool / entrance to pay in summer / eating options: picnics on the grass (plenty of shade), snack bar on-site (pizzas, ice creams) & the restaurant Le Savoyarde, overlooking the beach / free parking (though busy in summer)“;
Lake gazing in Talloires © montblancfamilyfun.com
  • AngonMummy in the Mountains: “great with kids & a bit quieter/less well known“;
  • Doussard – at the bottom end of the lake / sandy beach / lovely restaurant / super walk for families nearby in the Réserve Naturelle Bout du Lac;
Doussard, Réserve Naturelle au Bout du Lac © montblancfamilyfun
Saint-Jorioz white beach © Saint-Jorioz Tourisme / Lac d’Annecy Tourisme
  • Sévrier: you can try out waterskiing with children as young as 2 years at the Ski Nautique Annecy Club Sevrier; / *good to know: next family day on Saturday 11th August!*
© Ski Nautique Annecy Club Sévrier

There are superb walks to enjoy en famille around the lake; see Mummy in the Mountains and Randos en Famille for suggestions (Le Roc de Chère nature reserve, Angon waterfalls, Doussard’s nature reserve and Saint-Jorioz’s sentier thémathique les roselières);

summer exhibitions to enjoy around Lac d’Annecy 2018:

  • «Annecy Paysages» – until 2nd September / «Déambules» became «Annecy Paysages» this year . . . stroll through lovely Annecy, and take in some beautiful ephemeral art / see this video for a taster visit! / website / FB page;
  • «Le Festival des Cabanes» (Les Sources du Lac d’Annecy) until 15th November – the «Festival des Cabanes» / over 160 mm², across 7 communes: Chevaline, Val de chaise, Doussard, Giez, Lathuile, Saint-Ferréol et Faverges/Seythenex / 12 orignial cabanes in 12 magical locations / website;
© Festival des Cabanes

***

Lac du Bourget

Lac du Bourget (on which Aix-les-Bains sits), though not far away from the Pays du Mont-Blanc, gives one a total sense of dépaysement once there. It is the largest and deepest glacial lake located entirely in France: 18km long, 1,6km to 3,5km wide and an average of 85m deep (145m at its deepest). Legend has it that it was formed by the tears of an angel when God told it to leave the Alps. There are plenty of great beaches for family swimming; see here for some recommended beaches / watersports: sailing (16 ports de plaisance around lake), rowing, canoë-kayak, fishing, diving, water-skiing and wakeboarding / MBFF’s experience: a few years ago, with a 3 year old and small baby in tow (our then baby lounged on a rug in the shade!), MBFF spent a day at Plage de la Chatière, Conjux, on the north-western side of the lake.  This area is referred to as the Côte Sauvage, and it really does have an off-the-beaten-track feel to it (another recommended beach on this side, though only accessible by boat, is la plage des Meuniers / *good to know – le canal de Savière meanders for about 4km from the Rhône at Chanaz down to Portout on Lac du Bourget; it is picturesque and you can hire boats / *good to know – not too far away from Conjux is Abbaye d’Hautecombe*;

Plage de la Chatière, Conjux – on Lac du Bourget © montblancfamilyfun.com
Conjux, Lac du Bourget © montblancfamilyfun.com

***

Lac d’Aiguebelette (near Chambéry)

I am eager to take the family camping at Lac d’Aiguebelette (to the west of Chambéry) as I have heard such lovely reports! / there are 9 swimming beaches; see here for more details;

Lac Aigubelette © Pays du Lac Aigebelette

***

Lac de Monteynard (Isère)

Located only 25 minutes from Grenoble, is located the 20km long Lac de Monteynard, a great spot for windsurfing and kite-surfing, catamaran, canoë-kayak, waterskiing and wakeboarding! / it emerged from the building of an EDF dam in 1962 / la base nautique de Treffort: a paddling area and waterslide / impressive bridges: Brac and Enron; see here for more details;

© Lac Monteynard Tourisme

***

Lac Léman

With beaches both in France and in Switzerland, there are some excellent beaches for swimming on Lac man / for a full list of beaches around Lac Léman, see here / some suggestions:

France

  • Excenevex (France) – near Yvoire / sandy beach with playground and pedalos / see here for more details / for access to a smaller, private beach, you could eat at the Hotel de la Plage / other restaurants: Restaurant le Vent des Sables and Guinguette de la Plage / there are also some campsites here, if you choose to spend the night: Camping La Pinède and La Pourvoie des Elandes;

Switzerland

Apart from Baby Plage, all of these swimming areas have a small entrance fee:

  • Baby Plage (Quai Gustave-Ador, Geneva) – this is the only FREE public beach in Geneva / there is a play area for children / beach (sand) and grass / in Eaux-Vives, near the Parc de la Grange / more information here;
  • Les Bains des Pâquis (Quai du Mont-Blanc, Geneva) – a vertitable institution in Geneva, a site with history / a concrete jetty with slide, diving boards, beach-volley, tyrolienne, climbing wall on the water, stand up paddle / website;
A swimming spot with history! © Les Bains des Pâquis
  • Genève-Plage (Quai de Cologny, Geneva) – with lake swimming and swimming pools, slide (9m high), diving pool, parcours aquatique de jeux gonflables / lots of sport on offer: table tennis, beach-volley, pétanque, diving, waterskiing, wakeboard, flyboard, stand up paddle . . . / restaurant, terrace / and Spa Bain-Bleu Hammam & Spa;
© Geneve-Plage
  • Hermance Plage (Hermance) – in the medieval village of Hermance, on Franco-Swiss boder / playground, grassy area and shade, buvette;
  • Plage de la Nymphe (Collonge-Bellerive) – grassy areas, playground, beautiful view of Geneva and Jet d’Eau;

current exhibition about Lac Léman in Nyon: an exhibition about the history of swimming in Lac Léman: «Une Histoire de la Baignade dans le Léman», at the Musée de Nyon & Aquarium (until 30th September);

© Musée de Nyon & Aquarium

FISHING LAKES

You are allowed to fish in sections of some of the swimming lakes au Pays du Mont-Blanc and further afield, and there are also small lakes reserved for the sport.  Here are the lakes where fishing is possible (au Pays du Mont-Blanc and just a little further afield):

  • Chamonix: Lac des Gaillands & Lac de l’Anglais; Lac Cornu (2276m high);
  • Les Houches: Lac des Chavants;
  • Passy: Lac de Passy (trout, perch) and Lac Vert;
  • Sallanches: Lacs des Ilettes (one of the lakes is reserved for fishing);
  • Saint-Gervais: Lac du Vivier (newly set-up for fishing and picnics & BBQs;
  • Le Fayet: Lac à Gannaz (next to l’Arve);
  • Megève: Lac Javen (here, you can rent out equipment and even BBQ your catch on Wednesdays during the summer months!);
  • Les Contamines-Montjoie (Parc de Loisirs du Pontet) – Lac de Pêche du Pontet (before 10h and after 19h);
  • Samoëns: Base de Loisirs Lacs des Dames is made up of two lakes, just outside the village (10 hectares) / activities: swimming pools (entrance fee), strolling, fishing, playground, golf range (into lake!); terrains de sport, tennis, parcours aventure, pétanque, buvette . . . / open every day until September / website
Samoëns’ base de loisirs Lacs des Dames © Samoëns Tourisme

*NB – fishing in all of France requires a permit (available from Tourist Offices) or you can book to go with a guide / for more information about fishing in Haute-Savoie see here.


MOUNTAIN LAKES – HIKING

There are many beautiful high altitude mountain lakes accessible on family hikes au Pays du Mont-Blanc, some more accessible than others.  There will be an article to follow on mountain lakes to be discovered on hikes, but for now, here are some suggestions for magnificent lakes:

  • Chamonix: Lac Blanc, Lacs des Cheserys, Lac Cornu, Lacs Noirs, Lac du Brévent, Lac Bleu;
  • Passy: Lac Vert (Plaine-Joux), Lac de Pormenaz and Lac d’Anterne;
  • Les Contamines-Montjoie (Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge): Lacs des Jovets;
  • Switzerland: Barrage d’Emosson (dam) and le Vieux Emosson;

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