The Lac du Bourget is the largest natural lake in France at 18 km long. Located in Savoie, it is bordered by the town of Aix-les-Bains, the Massif de l’Épine, the Mont du Chat, the Mont Revard and the Massif des Bauges.
History and geography
This large lake is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in Savoie. It was formed at the end of the last Würm ice age, about 19,000 years ago. It is the largest lake of glacial origin in France, because Lake Geneva is Franco-Swiss. The name “Bourget” appeared in the 13th century. It comes from a commune bordering its shores, Le Bourget-du-Lac. With a surface area of 44.5 km², this body of water is 18 km long and 1.6 to 3.5 km wide. Its average depth is 65 m and its maximum depth is 145 m.
In terms of arts and literature, Lac du Bourget is linked to the presence of the poet Alphonse de Lamartine, who lived there in 1816. He wrote famous poems including “Le Lac”, dedicated to the woman he loved, Julie Charles. Its watershed is occupied by the town ofAix-les-Bains and further south, about 15 km away, by the town of Chambéry, the historic capital of the Duchy of Savoy.
The banks of the lake
For centuries, the Lac du Bourget has attracted tourists who come to relax and enjoy the pleasant temperate climate. The spa town of Aix-les-Bains is renowned for the quality of its spa facilities. There are many viewpoints from which to enjoy the panorama of the lake.
A romantic lake
Lac du Bourget has many faces and is well worth a visit. Near Aix-les-Bains, the shimmering banks are ideal for daydreaming and walking. On the opposite shore, the wild coast follows the wooded mountains of the Dent du Chat. Further north, you can discover the Savières canal. This is an opportunity to visit the Chautagne region, its poplar grove and its gentle hills. The village of Chanaz, nicknamed the Venice of Savoy, runs alongside the canal that links the lake to the Rhône.
A variety of water sports activities
Aix-les-Bains Riviera des Alpes has been awarded the France nautical resort label to highlight the great diversity of the landscape and the many water sports activities available. The resort offers a variety of sports: water skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, diving, sailing, rowing, rafting, Dragon Boat and canoeing. You can also go boating. The lake offers more than 14 harbours with 2,600 moorings. Swimming is pleasant during the summer months with water temperatures of around 26°C. The lake fauna consists of more than 30 species, including lavaret and arctic char.
On the eastern side of the Lac du Bourget, the town of Aix-les-Bains has beautiful remains from the Roman era. Its old palaces, which used to welcome curists, have been transformed into accommodation. But their remarkable architecture from the beginning of the 20th century is worth discovering. On the wild side, Hautecombe Abbey is the majestic necropolis of the Counts of Savoy. Its exuberant Gothic style is presented to you during audio-guided tours. At the other end of the lake, you can see the remains of the castle of Thomas II, in Bourget-du-Lac. The visit can continue to the typical fishing village of Bourdeau.
Hikes and walks
The Belle-Epoque character of Aix-les-Bains invites you to take a stroll through the beautiful streets of the Savoyard city. The capital of Savoie, Chambéry, located 15 km from the lake, has an old pedestrian city rich in historical evidence. The Castle of the Dukes of Savoy and the Cathedral of Saint-François-de-Sales are two of the most important buildings in the city. The banks of the lake offer numerous shady walks. Only 25 minutes away, the Massif des Bauges regional nature park offers hikes on marked trails, including the Nivolet cross and the Revard belvedere. On the Chautagne side, you can follow the GR35, the route of Santiago de Compostela, and enjoy its view of the Jura. To the south of the lake, excursions to the Dent du Chat and the Molard Noir are very popular with hikers.
Wellness and thermal baths
To the north of the lake, the Chautagne region allows you to discover its vineyards. Different grape varieties are featured: Mondeuse, Roussette, Aligoté, Pinot and Chautagne. On the gastronomic level, we recommend the restaurant “Atmosphères”, located in Bourget-du-Lac. It has been awarded a Michelin star. In the commune of Bourdeau, the Michelin-starred “Lamartine” serves inventive cuisine based on fresh local produce. Finally, “Les Morainières” is a gastronomic restaurant located at the top of the hill of the famous Marestel vineyard, in Jongieux. Its refined and tasty cuisine has been awarded two Michelin stars.
During your holiday in this region, you can choose a stay focused on fitness. The spa town of Aix-les-Bains has renowned establishments for rheumatic and ENT conditions.
The most beautiful views of the lake
To appreciate the beauty of the Savoy lake scenery, you need to get up high. There are several excursions to magnificent viewpoints. Most of the sites are equipped with signs to identify the surrounding massifs. The following panoramas are exceptional and well worth a hike in the Savoie.
- The Dent du Chat: starting from the Col du Chat, your hike is mostly in the forest. The difference in altitude is important and the last part of the circuit is vertiginous. But the view over the lake is worth it.
- The Grande Mollière lookout: located in Tresserve on the first heights, the site is easily accessible and equipped with transparent signs to indicate the names of the various summits.
- Mont Revard: culminating at 1,500 m, it used to be accessible by a cogwheel train, then by cable car. Nowadays, you just have to take the road.
- The Grumeau lookout at Ontex: offers a magnificent view of Hautecombe Abbey, the Bauges massif and the Chambotte.
- The belvedere of the Chambotte: located above Chindreux, it offers a sumptuous view of the Chambéry cluse, Aix-les-Bains, the villages of the Chautagne and the Savière canal.
Top rated hotels
Depending on your budget, we have selected five hotels near Lac du Bourget that offer excellent value for money. They have very good reviews from guests.
Golden Tulip Aix les Bains – Hotel & Spa
This beautiful 4-star hotel is located 200 metres from Aix-les-Bains train station and 700 metres from the congress centre. The magnificent spa includes a sauna, sensory showers and an infrared lyashi dome. Its restaurant “L’Alchimiste” serves traditional French cuisine.
From €110 per night.
Hotel & Spa Marina d’Adelphia
This hotel is located on the shores of Lac du Bourget. It features an aquatic area with 3 heated swimming pools, a hammam and a sauna. The spacious, air-conditioned rooms offer a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.
Rates start at € 80 per night.
Mercure Aix-les-Bains Domaine de Marlioz Hotel & Spa
The hotel is located in Marlioz. It offers its guests a beautiful thermal centre with an indoor swimming pool and a spa for people over 15 years old. The rooms are large and equipped with a private balcony. The Féclaz ski resort is less than 20 km away.
Prices start at € 107 per night.
Best Western Aquakub
A very well located hotel, 200 m from the lake shore. It offers an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a wellness centre and a restaurant with a panoramic view. “Le Kubix” offers a cuisine inspired by local and seasonal products. Excellent value for money.
From € 85 per night.
La Maison des Pêcheurs
The hotel is located in Viviers-du-Lac, on the banks of the Bourget. The wooden architecture is reminiscent of the traditional fishermen’s house on the lake. The restaurant serves local specialities. The rooms have a view of the lake or the mountains. A walkway leads to Aix-les-Bains.
From €101 per night.
Le Bourget beaches
Between mid-June and mid-September, the water temperature easily exceeds 20°C. You can take advantage of wild or developed beaches to go swimming. We propose a tour of the most beautiful beaches of the Lac du Bourget.
- Bourget-du-Lac Beach: a perfect structure for families. You will find shallow water, a sandy beach, a floating pontoon, a beach volleyball court and games for children.
- La Plage de Conjux: this beach faces the rising sun. It is made up of gravel and beautiful lawns, and it is possible to rent canoes and pedal boats.
- La Plage de Châtillon: south-facing with free parking. The beach is free and boats can be hired.
- Mémard beach: you can eat on site at the Grand Port. It is limited in size and free to use. The car park is also free.
- La Plage de Brison-Saint-Innocent: the beach can be recognised by its overhang on the lake. Its large lawn and trees provide protection during the hot summer months.
- The beach of Aix-les-Bains: it is the large sandy beach of the city. It is not free and offers many activities such as trampolines and floating games. It can also be accessed from the swimming pool.
- The Rowing beach: on the edge of the beach of Aix-les-Bains, this lake area is free and made up of sand. It is very sunny in the afternoon. You can eat and hire boats in summer.
- The Lido beach: very popular with Chambériens, this sandy beach with some stones in the water faces the setting sun. It is free of charge, except for the part that runs alongside the “Le Lido” restaurant.
- The Mottets beach: this is the closest to Chambéry. Facing north and shaded, it is not free in summer. Swimmers can use the pontoon. The beach is supervised.
- The beach of the Camping de l’Île aux Cygnes: it is made of small gravel. It faces north, is shaded and allows you to admire the lake in its length.
Cultural and festive events around the lake
The Lac du Bourget region offers a varied range of events throughout the year. Shows, classical music festivals, theatres and pop-rock festivals, you will be able to enjoy a wide choice to entertain yourself according to your aspirations.
- The Musilac Festival: this is the largest contemporary music festival in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It takes place every year at the beginning of July, on the esplanade of the Lac du Bourget, in Aix-les-Bains. Musilac has welcomed big stars such as Stromae, The Cure, Indochine and Placebo.
- Le Phare: this is Chambéry’s main concert hall. It offers concerts, comedy shows and basketball and handball tournaments.
- The Romantic Nights Festival: is held every year during the last week of September at the Aix-les-Bains Cultural and Congress Centre. It allows you to explore the classical music repertoire of 19th and 20th century composers.
- The Théâtre du Casino d’Aix-les-Bains: this theatre is an architectural gem. It offers plays, comedy and concerts of classical music and French variety throughout the year.
- La Brèche Festival: this event used to take place on the heights of the lake every year during the first half of May. Now it is organised between Chambéry and Albertville. It is dedicated to chamber music and the discovery of young artists and musicians.