🏞 La Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac in Doussard is a tranquil 🐸 wetland area, with marshes, 💦 rivers and 🌾 unique flora and 🦆 fauna, offering superb views of 💦 Lac d’Annecy and 🏔 the surrounding mountains.
For 👨👩👧👦 families, it is ideal: wide wooden walkways perfect for buggies or wheelchairs, 🗺 explanatory panels along the way . . . children will remain engaged and you’ll all learn a lot about this unique area.
MBFF first discovered the reserve a few years back, as our friends had bought a house nearby . . . We took a leisurely stroll through 🏞 the wetland reserve, and then we made our way over to a nearby restaurant on 🏖 the Plage de Doussard, and the boys played on the sandy beach.
And then a handful of May bank holidays ago, we found ourselves camping at the 🏕 Camping du Lac Bleu with family and friends, and this campsite is located right next to 🏞 La Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac, and so I took my brother on a stroll there . . .
La Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac
🏞 La Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac is a unique wetland, a marshy area (marais) crossed by 💦 two rivers that feed into 💦 Lac d’Annecy (two of its four tributaries): 💦 l’Eau Morte and 💦 l’Ire.
The reserve stretches over 🌳 80 hectares, and it is located right at the tip of the 💦 petit lac d’Annecy, which is the southern and narrower end of the lake – 💦 Bout-du-Lac translates literally as “end of the lake“.
This 🏞 wetland reserve, both on its terrestrial land and on its preserved shores, shelters an incredible biodiversity, and is breeming with flora and flora unique to the area: 🌿 reeds (roseaux), beavers (castors), 🐟 fish and other 🦆 aquatic life and birds.
🌿 flora – this wetland is home to a unique and finely balanced ecosystem: 🌳 humid forest, 🌾 reed beds (roselières), 🌿 humid and fallow meadows, peat bogs . . .
The 🌾 reed beds are protected, as they have an essential role in preserving the lake’s biodiversity.
[ ⇒ see separate MBFF article here about another walk among the 🌾 reed beds of Lac d’Annecy, at Saint-Jorioz, and read more about Annecy’s unique reed growth programme here ]
You might also spot some 🌺 rare wild orchids: orchis militaire, épipactis des marais . . .
🦆 aquatic wildlife – as this area is one of the least developed of Lac d’Annecy, and home to the best preserved banks of lake, it has also become the refuge of many 🦇 animal species, and in particular many 🦢 birds. Some, like 🦆 the tufted duck, find favourable conditions to get through the winter; and some, like the great crested grebe, reproduce in the spring in 🌾 the reed beds.
The 🌾 banks of the lake, with no signs urbanisation and protected as they are, retain a certain wild nature – you’ll be able to spot plenty of 🦆 aquatic birds, 🐟 fish and driftwood . . .
🦌 mammals – the most remarkable species present in the reserve is the European beaver (castor), reintroduced to the Eau Morte in 1972! Several beaver families are now well established in the reserve, and though you’re unlikely to see them as they have nocturnal habits, you may see evidence of their daily lives (gnawed wood, dams). 🐗 Sangliers and 🦌 deer are also present, and you may spot 🐾 footprints (you’ll find explanatory panels to help you distinguish footprints in the mud).
🦎 Reptiles, 🐸 amphibians, 🦋 butterflies and dragonflies also contribute to the biodiversity of the reserve:
An ideal family stroll or buggy walk
🏞 La Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac makes for the perfect family outing because:
- ⏱ the distance of the boucle is ideal for families: 3,4km (45mins – add on plenty of time if you like to read every panel, like ME! 😉);
- 🌳 variety: 🦇 wildlife, 🌾 reeds beds & plants, 💦 water (rivers, lake), wooden bridges and walkways;
- 👨👩👧👦 you will find wide pathways that are easy to navigate with buggies and ♿️ wheelchairs;
- 🗺 a sentier pédagogique – learn about the area as you stroll!
- a new smartphone friendly parcours, with a beaver as mascot;
🗺 an annotated parcours through the reed beds (roselières) – on your stroll through the wetland, you’ll follow a marked sentier pédagogique (an educational trail), with panels dotted along the way, allowing you to read more about 🐾 the nature surrounding you and the unique features of 🌾 this wetland ecosystem;
👨👩👧👦 wide open paths for buggies and wheelchairs – we were no longer in need of a buggy on our visits, but we saw plenty of people with them! The wide paths, which have just been repaired (and cleaned!), are also perfect for running (though do be careful not to lose sight of children, as there is water aplenty in which to fall!);
I love this photo of my then 2 year old examining 👣 some muddy human footrprints!
🌉 bridges to cross – our boys especially loved running back and forth across a certain wooden swing bridge . . .
💦 rivers – 💦 two of four tributaries feeding into Lac d’Annecy – 💦 l’Eau Morte and 💦 l’Ire (one of the last deltas of France to remain uncanalised!) – cut through this wetland. You may be lucky enough to spot signs of the presence of beavers . . .
Your walk through the 🏞 nature reserve begins in amongst 🌳 the trees, on a wide and gravelled path. You’ll pass a metal cross – a reminder of the very ⛪ first church that stood in Doussard:
Then you emerge into 🌿 an open field, before joining the annotated boucle, which takes you through the wetland, and past 💦 the rivers to 🐟 the lake.
⛪️ history – as well as the Croix de l’Ancienne Eglise, you ‘ll also come across the Tour de Beauvivier, the vestiges of a medieval tower of an ancient trading port (at the northern point of the reserve, near the lake). You can climb the stone remnants to the top the tower, which has been converted into an observatory for local fauna.
Eating options nearby
You can access the 🏖 Plage de Doussard, directly from the nature reserve . . . this is just perfect to end the walk with little ones. In ☀️ the summertime, there is 🥗 a lovely beach-side restaurant with a spacious terrace, and so you can stop for lunch or 🍦 an ice-cream:
🥗 La Playa Doussard (Plage de Doussard) – a summer option, we love the atmosphere and warm welcome (and delicious food!) of this beach restaurant – bar! / FB page;
🥗 Le Cadre (plage de Doussard) – beach snack and drinks bar / FB page / address: 120 route de la Plage, 74210, Doussard;
🥗 L’Auberge Du Boucanier (Doussard) – FB page / address: 120 allée de la Nublière, 74210 Doussard;
🍕 Douss’Art Pizza (Doussard) – FB page / address: 1535 route d’Annecy, 74210, Doussard;
Further activities nearby
- 🏖 Plage de Doussard – fun on the beach, 🏊♂️ swimming, and a small playground:
- ⛵️ Club Nautique de Doussard – here you can rent out ⛵️ boats, 🚣♀️ kayaks, paddle-boards (FB page), or go 🏄 water-skiing or wakeboarding (Skiwake74)! Lessons and stages are also available in the summer;
- 💦 Grotte et Cascade de Seythenex – not too far away, you can visit caves and a waterfall, and you can also go canyoning or have a go on a tyrolienne / website;
- 🌳 Criq’Parc (Saint-Jorioz) – a parcours in the trees, with options for little ones / see FB page or website for more details;
- 🚲 piste cyclable – the old railway line connecting Annecy and Albertville no longer exists – it was made into what is now the wonderful piste cyclable, which runs along the western edge of Lac d’Annecy (and will soon be completed on the eastern shores too). Though classified as 🚲 a green route, I would highly advise parents with small children to be very vigilant (my son, who aged 4 was just discovering a love for pedal biking, was shouted at for getting in the way of a very serious road biker!) . . . more serious cyclists have a selection of cols (mountain passes), like the Col de la Forclaz, nearby!
[ ⇒ more ideas: for some more ideas, see separate 🏕 Camping Le Ravoire‘s list of activities here ]
Camping options nearby
If coming from the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, a day trip is well worth it to the 💦 Lac d’Annecy, but it is also great to plan a long weekend. There are plenty of 🏕 campsites available, and this is a popular choice. We have enjoyed:
🏕 Camping du Lac Bleu (Doussard) – this campsite is located directly at the edge of 💦 Lac d’Annecy, with a private beach and pontoon, and a super swimming pool . . . / website;
🏕 Camping Europa (Saint-Jorioz)– is the other campsite we tried. Though it doesn’t have access to the lake, it does have the most amazing swimming complex with slides, and direct access to the cycling path;
Here is a list of some 🏕 other campsites in Doussard and in nearby Lathuile (ranging from more basic 2-star to 5-star):
- 🏕 Camping La Ravoire (Doussard) – super swimming pool and slides and glamping possible!
- 🏕 Camping Campéole La Nublière (Doussard) – with access to the beach and to the watersports;
- 🏕 Camping le Taillefer (Doussard) – small caravans park, located on an old farm;
- 🏕 Camping La Ferme de la Serraz (Doussard) – a 5-star campsite located under la Combe d’Ire;
- 🏕 Camping l’Idéal (Lathuile);
🏕 Camping Les Fontaines (Lathuile) – the sister campsite of La Ravoire, great swimming pool and slides;
🏕 Camping La Ferme (Lathuile) – with an indoor paddling pool;
🏕 Camping Le Verger Fleuri (Lathuile) – a 2-star campsite;
🅿️ parking: Parking de la Réserve du Bout-Du-Lac (off route de la Vieille Eglise, 74210, Doussard);
access: access to the reserve is FREE and, if desired, you can also hire a guide for your visit;
🗓 opening dates: all year round (though recently shut for repair work and annual nettoyage), with different seasonal atmospheres and colours: 🐸 springtime flowers and fauna, 🌿lush greens in summer, 🍂 and oranges, burnt golds and rust in autumn, ❄️ frost and perhaps snow in winter . . .
[ ⇒ℹ️ more information about the reserve: here ]