Every 10 years the water & power authorities are obliged to inspect any dam in France higher than 20 meters (65 feet), and this means draining the reservoir down to the dam's footings ("vidange" = "emptying"). Here are the dam photos, with a few literalesque French-to-English captions thrown in for your reading pleasure absolutely free!

Behold the dam in summer 2007, he is full of the water:


Behold the dam during vidange. The water, she is gone down 40 meters (130+ feet)! Note well the dark water line at the top of the dam (and also see where the line of the trees, they stop at the top-left of the photo):


A little further away from the dam, summer 2007; see the line of buoys of warning across the waterway!:


The same place, after vidange:


The front of the Quinson dam:


And looking up over the dam (remember, he was full up to the line of trees before the vidange!):


We then drove over to a little town about 8 km (5 miles) away called Artignosc, where the official "Lac du Quinson" is located (the "lake" in Quinson is just a place where the river widens), and lo! Here was the view from the main (okay, only) bridge into town over the reservoir canyon:


And then, looking toward Quinson Lake (Artignosc): all of the without-trees area of white in the distance, was entirely underwater before the vidange:


Smack-dab (okay, this is really not French at all) in the middle of the lake is the old bridge—the former main bridge—that used to cross the Verdon River up until the early 1970s. It was covered in stinky mud and lakeweed. (By the way, lakeweed when dry is like very, very brittle excelsior.) The entire lake area looked like another planet entirely:


In addition to inspecting the structural soundness of the dam, authorities hauled out all sorts of debris:


This once-every-10-years "vidange de retenue du barrage" was so cool! For my final shots, here's looking at the Verdon River on the other side of the dam. (Sorry about the power lines in the first shot below, but I really liked the light in this scene; by the time I got low enough to shoot again without wires, the light had changed; someday I'll get around to photoshopping the lines out.) Recreational boating and so on was not disrupted for lucky Quinsonnais vendors, but the tourist season in Artignosc (boat and kayak rentals, fishing, etc.) was cut short that year.