Panel 7

The marvellous "Lac de Joux"


From the very beginning, fishing was practiced here. It was always big business. The main fish are trout, perch, pike and fera.


They used the lake only for practical purposes in the past. Thus, the people of Vaulion used it to get the trees that had been cut down in the forest of the territory of Chenit to the banks of the abbey. They paid a charge to the abbots of the nunnery. Others made trunks cut on the slopes of the Revers float up to the sawmills of the same village.


The Bernese forbade using the lake when it was starting to freeze over, as there were too many accidents there.


The people of Vallorbe considered it to be ‘their’ lake. Their sailing barques transported charcoal from La Golisse to La Tornaz, at the north-eastern extremity of Lake Brenet where their warehouses were. Later, they loaded the goods on the backs of mules.


We believe ice-skating was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century. It became everyone’s sport, but especially for those who lived in Le Pont, Les Bioux and La Golisse, whose enthusiasts all could execute lovely pirouettes!


Steel ice skating blades were introduced there in 1876. A huge ice skate drawn on the rocks of the western bank testifies to this.


The Ice Skating Club was founded in 1886. It started out very successfully, but did not last.


A lifeguard is instituted, who is responsible for appropriate signalling and flags are put out: red means ‘no go’; green means ‘safe to skate‘.



A steamboat service is instituted in 1889. The boat, Le Caprice, is retired in 1912 and replaced by Le Matin. From 1914 such boats are no more – until 1977, when Le Caprice II is launched; a pleasure boat, which is still in use.


At the start of the 20th century, ice-skating becomes a passion and a number one tourist attraction. Women skate, too. That's how one could see couples evolving over the lake in ‘pendulum’, an epoch style which would definitely make laugh you today!


Skiing was also practiced and various races were organised. An ice hockey team was developed on these improvised rinks. Sleighs are enjoyed, too. They even take tractors out, when the ice is so thick that tanks might comfortably drive across the ice - although they never actually tried that! Planes land on the ice.


New sports appear; most of them in the last 20 years, in spring or in winter; you know them well.



Here ice sailing is practiced with sailed vehicles that can acquire astonishing speeds. Nautical skiing is also popular.


The lake is consequently worthy of constant monitoring. On the one hand, it has experienced unacceptable pollution by the over-use of phosphates, and it is necessary to rectify. On the other hand, the lake became the premiere object of an all-round tourist campaign. Consequently, the lake and its dominant summit, La Dent, became calling cards for the Vallée. These two features created a myth – one could even say a religion - and the whole became what could be called a fixation!



The lake welcomes interesting fauna, especially birds, including great crested grebes, coots, ducks and, at times, sea gulls. But the most important and the most elegant fowl of all are probably swans. They first appeared at the beginning of the sixties. There was worry about how they would survive the winter. An attempt was made to resettle them down in Lausanne on Lake Geneva, but no sooner were they left there that they returned to the Lac de Joux. The Vallée, in spite of its cold weather and ice, seems to please them, provided that they can find a little patch of water. They have adopted the place.



Thus, the lake has been seen and admired by all previous visitors whose writings testify to it. They once lamented that its circumference was denuded of any vegetation. Times have changed and trees are consequently numerous on all her banks now.


You can go around it today almost without ever treading upon the road. It’s more than twenty kilometres and takes more than half a day to accomplish this feat.


The Lac de Joux – the lake of forests - so well named, spreads out between Mont-Tendre and Risoud.



A lake whose waters serve to feed the hydroelectric plant at La Dernier, near Vallorbe; a reason why the managing company offered us the Pegasus sculpture: power that comes from the water!


It is now your turn to admire it, too.