Discover the charm of this authentic site
Henry Bordeaux described Aiguebelette lake as an “emerald pearl embedded in a setting of green mountains
Aiguebelette’s name means “beautiful little waters”. Indeed the stunning emerald green colour of the lake gives it a magical quality of peace and tranquillity.
The banks of the lake and lovely triangular stretch of water, with its two little islands, have remained very unspoilt and wild. The lake boasts an ecosystem and outstanding natural areas that guarantee its ecological diversity and ensure the purity of its water.
Encompassing a diverse range of wildlife in the nearby forests and Epine mountain range, the lake also provides a wintering ground for migrating birds. Its fish stocks, featuring many fine species, are particularly abundant thanks to the quality of the lake’s ecosystem.
In order to protect the purity and beauty of the lake’s waters, various conservation measures have been put in place. Sailing or boating on the lake is controlled and boats with thermal engines are prohibited. The Communauté de Communes du Lac d’Aiguebelette is well aware that the quality of the lake’s natural heritage represents its main strength and is an asset in terms of any development plans. It has therefore committed itself to a policy of eco-tourism.
The waterside communities situated around Lac d’Aiguebelette as well as the other villages dotted here and there on the nearby hillsides have managed to retain their authentic character: visitors will discover numerous examples of rural life, all carefully restored, against a beautiful setting full of flowers.
The Lake’s identity card
Altitude : 373 meters.
Surface area : 545 hectares, 3rd largest natural lake in France
Volume : 166 million cubic meters.
Maximum depth : 71 meters.
Total length of shoreline : 14 km.
Owners : The De Chambost family and E.D.F.
Villages : 5 villages share the lake’s banks : Aiguebelette-le-Lac, Lépin-Le-Lac, Nances, Novalaise, Saint-Alban-de-Montbel and, on the hillsides above, Ayn, Dullin, Gerbaix, Marcieux and the village d’Attignat-Oncin, one of the gateways to the Chartreuse Natural Park.
Number of permanent residents: about 5000.
The legend of the Lac
“Once upon a time there was a rich, prosperous little town on the edge of the lake. Its residents thought of nothing other than living a pleasurable life. One day, a poor man arrived in the village to beg for a piece of bread. The selfish residents kept their doors firmly shut. Just one door was opened to the poor man, belonging to a woman who had been disinherited by the village. She was prepared to share her meal with him. It transpired that the beggar was in fact Jesus Christ, who had disguised himself in order to test the hard-hearted villagers. As punishment, the next day the lake’s waters rose up and covered the whole town, except for two houses belonging to the old lady and her daughter, both of which were spared by Christ and remained standing on two islands linked by a dry footpath. That’s the story of how Lac d’Aiguebelette originated… “
Lakeside villages dating from Bronze Age…
The mythical origin of the two islands gives a glimpse of the actual truth: it is quite possible that the water level rose at some point or that the land subsided. It is claimed that the islands were originally just one, steeper than the existing islands, linked to the mainland by a roadway paved Roman-style with wide, flat stones. Traces of paths and supports from lakeside buildings have been identified at the Boffard pile-dwelling site, now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage. Uncovered in the mid-20th century, the buildings prove that there were human settlements in the area during the Neolithic period.
Why « Aiguebelette » ?
There is an oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the larger of the two islands. It would have been built on the ruins of a pagan temple, dedicated to the god known as Dieu Bel, from which were derived the names Montbel and d’aqua-Bel-ette.