Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Family River Fun

Over the last three or four years we have taken our summer hols in France - and these have always included a few days paddling the French rivers including the Dordogne, Ardeche, Ciron, Dronne, Chassezac, Lot and Aveyron.

While we always travel with a couple of kayaks, with 6 of us, these need to be supplemented with the hire of boats. We normally opt for the typical unsinkable plastic Rotomod canoes that seat 2 or 3 - but have hired more traditional 'old towns' and 'sit-on-tops'.

Confined to the school hols, some river sections are very crowded - the Ardeche, for example, is a real circus with fleets of yellow and pink plastic canoes (most manned by complete novices) floating (often up-side-down) in a constant stream of chaos. However, if you select your river section carefully you can end up with the river to yourself.

Last year we were in Aveyron and the Upper Lot - a river that is dam controlled and therefore allows for some good grade 2+ paddling even in the August school hols. We spent 4 separate days on the river - and when we got the dam releases right, the river filled as fast as the Treweryn and gave levels that were comparable with the Dart, with plenty of play waves, (but at 30 degC a much more enjoyable experience! - have you ever felt like diving in to cool down on a Dart trip!).

There’s a great play hole at Estaing (used for French Freestyle competitions) – Finny was catapulted a good 6’ off the boat when we went down this on sit-on-tops. At Entraygues, 15 minutes from our Gite, I found another play wave that I could enjoy all to myself, especially for early morning sessions before breakfast.

This year (2001) we were staying 50 miles further East and tried the river Aveyron – which offered great scenery, plenty of chutes, a slalom course, and some pleasant grade 2 paddling