It has been a while since the club did an overseas trip. This was mainly due to most of our more experienced paddlers moving on. A low grade scenic trip to the Ardeche was suggested and to combine it with a visit to the white water courses near Lyon, (St Pierre de Boeuf and Isle de Serre). Once we had two car drivers committed to the trip, the trip was on!
We chose to leave mid week rather than at the busier weekend and booked the Shuttle accordingly. The Ardeche can get very crowded so we planned to go in September after the school holidays. We also planned to arrive mid-week so we could paddle when there would be less crowds. However the plans were changed when River App reported very low water on the Ardeche. We switched to the river Tarn which is a bit further south and is similar to the Ardeche in that it provides low grade but very scenic sections that would suit the group. On reflection the Tarn is a better choice!
Day 1 - River Tarn St Enimie to La Malene Grade 1-2. Very scenic, blue skies and hot. We were fortunate to have great weather all week. A gentle warm up paddle.
Day 2 - River Tarn Le Vignes to Le Rozier Grade 2-3 10km. This section started with shooting a purpose built slide over a large weir which was fun. There were also some easy rapids with some fun play spots for tailies or surfing. Great scenery and weather.
Day 3 - River Allier Prades to Chanteuges. Grade 2+ 8 km. We drove over to the Allier in the morning and did a shortish section in the afternoon. More numerous and continuous rapids with more playing than on the Tarn. We found a great spot for tailies and a fun play wave to entertain us all. The drivers could not find the correct get out point so we paddled on a bit further and got abused by a local fisherman! You need to get out at the specified spots and not be on the river after 6:30pm.
Day 4 - River Allier Chaperoux to Alleyras Grade 2-3. 18km in a remote and deep gorge. A great section with over 40 rapids in a deep and remote gorge. We had to keep paddling in order to get off the river by 6:30pm. Although the section is lowish grade any problems on the river could be serious due to the remoteness.
Day 5 Isle de la Serre ww course, (Grade 2-3), near Lyon. We met up with Agathe who used to paddle with us several years ago. She had given us useful information and suggestions as to where to paddle etc. She popped over from Lyon to join us for the afternoon on the course. The course is an S shaped section of river with the middle part being more challenging. It contains a largeish drop and powerful stoppers. We did several laps and we were all exhausted afterwards! You could spend a couple of days here but unfortunately we had to drive back to London!
The other two days were driving. Google maps took us via Paris on the way down from Calais to the Tarn. It forgot to mention that the Paris ring road contains a tunnel with a 2m height limit, which was too low for us in cars with kayaks on top!! We stopped and Verena asked a policeman for advise and he said we would have to drive through the centre of Paris, which would add 2 hours to our journey. We re-loaded the kayaks on both cars and managed to squeeze through!!
A great fun trip with fantastic weather and scenery.
Trip participants: Paddy, Tim, Verena, Zibby, Maria and Chessie.
More Photos and Video Clips from Paddy, Zibby, Verena and Maria
Written by Paddy