Lac de Carcès - Provence Beyond
Carcès lake (Lac de Carcès) is located just 3 km southeast of Carcès village. The lake is about 3 km long, twisting along between the forested hills that once lined the small-river valleys that were dammed in 1936. There is no boating, water sports or swimming at Lac de Carcès, but the fishing is good.
The D13 road follows along the very edge of the lake's east side if you want an en-passant look. For a more leisurly tour, there's a forestry road along the west side of the lake that makes a nice out-and-back walk: about 2 hours round-trip from the parking at the south end to the dam at the north, and back again.
About half way up the lake is another set of ruins. And these are truly ruins. A collection of tumble-down buildings are scattered in the trees, some stone but most are cinder-block. At the heart of these ruins is a very large swimming pool? It's big enough to have been a communal pool for vacation site, but it as a constant depth — no shallow end and no deep end.
Fishermen seem to like the northern half of this walk. On a weekend (in season only, we suppose) there are several small groups of fishermen camped out along the edge, with small tents, cots, and modern fishing rigs to hold several fishing poles. They told us the fishing was good in the lake, but that day it seemed that none of them had any luck at all. We've seen similar "fishing camps", with camouflage colored tents and all the gear, set up along the shores of Saint Cassien Lake (Lac de St Cassien).
The sides of the Lac de Carcès are steep, with no beaches and mostly lined by forests. We found this lake, like most, prettiest in the morning and the evening. Along the west-side walking route, the morning view across the lake is into the sun and towards the shady side, but there are nice reflections then if the lake is still.
In the Spring and Summer the walk is lined with a lot of wildflowers. The Wild Leek (Allium ampeloprasum) looks like a tall, multi-branched weed from a distance, but it's pretty pink-white flowerhead attracts butterflies. Tall stalks of the dark purple Round-Headed Leek (Allium sphaerocephalon) grown on the hillside just about the path. They tend to attract butterflies as well, but it's not handy to scramble up the embankment here. Another common wildflower here is the Pale Stonecrop (Sedum sediforme), with pale greenish flower-heads on prehistoric-looking redish stalks.
From Carcès, drive southeast out of the village on the D13 road (direction Cabasse). After about 3 km the road follows along the edge of the lake. Seven km from Carcès (at the first junction), turn right onto the D24. This road crosses bits of the bottom-end of the lake and 100 m after the second bridge, turn right onto a tiny road marked "Village du Lac". This leads in about 400 m to a large parking area.
There's a very imaginative cell-phone tower at the Lac de Carcès parking area, but you have to be observant to spot it (which is the imaginative part).
On the outskirts of Carcès there is a small local road that leads to the north end of the lake, via St Christohe and the Chapelle Notre-Dame. It's about 4 km long, and exactly the width of a medium-small car, with not many turn-outs. We did it — once!