Results 1 to 31 of 31

Thread: Dad and Daughter in France: Drôme (Canoe Festival), Ardèche, Allier

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default Dad and Daughter in France: Drôme (Canoe Festival), Ardèche, Allier

    The original idea was to head for Scotland for Easter to paddle one of the classic rivers (Tay, Spey, Royal Dee) and then take in the Open Canoe Association Paddlefest at Lakeside for the long Royal-Wedding / May Day bank holiday weekend... but we then realised that it's 12.5 hours to Spey Bay... and the same travel time would get us to the 2nd annual Open Canoe Festival on the Drôme and an opportunity to explore the Ardèche and other rivers in the area - with much better odds for fine weather, and even greater scope for great learning experiences for a youngster.

    We left Norfolk at 10:00am on Wed 20th April. The only UK delay was on the Dartford Crossing.... which was no bad thing as it gave us a good look at the Thames Estuary (a paddle for another trip). By 1:00pm we were at the ferry... and we had a nice break from driving until we rolled off at 4pm UK time (5pm local time) ready to cover some miles by stumping up for the péage.

    Within 3 hours we were in Reims, and were ready to eat and have a play. The Cathederal was just days away from its 800th birthday and looked superb:



    We played infront of the cathederal for a while, but within a couple of hours we were back on the road, this time avoiding the péage: by the time I parked up in a field gateway to get some sleep we had clocked up some 500 miles. A few hours later we made an early start and we'd already covered a fair bit more ground before breaking for croissant and coffee in Moissey: a tiny place in the Jura between Dijon and Besançon.



    After much nagging, dad found a supermarket to start our quest for flips flops (a little girl's preference) or sandals (dad's preference) and to get fresh food. We then headed (slowly, with breaks to play and eat mountains of strawberries) for the Vercors. We took a pretty route along the Rhône from Ambérieu-en-Bugey to Voiron and then along to the northern outskirts of Grenoble, where we turned sharp right and started up Les Gorges d'Engins... which was stunning. We parked up to stretch our legs with this outcrop looming over us:



    We had intended to take just 5 minutes or so before heading on for food and to the Drôme... but as is so often the way with our adventures, we got carried away. Before long, we'd found this little side valley:



    A couple of hours later, having wandered up to Croix De Lichou (at 1109m) we were almost back at the car: the layby we'd parked in was somewhere between where I took this photo and the crag that's shown...



    Of course, getting safely back to the car without the aid of base-jumping kit took a good hour... but we found much to interest us en-route, including deer and this wonderful cabin:



    By the time we reached the car, the daylight had well and truly gone. No worries: we found a late night pizza place in Villard-de-Lans and then found somewhere high on the plateau to bivi - way up on the slopes just north of La Grande Moucherolle.
    The next morning, dearest daughter tucked into crêpe at a delightful little cafê on the square in Villard-de-Lans::



    We had a most enjoyable potter across the plateau, stopping at Valchevrière at a monument to the résistance which led to much discussion of French history over the coming hours, days and weeks... though none so complicated as the discussions of Roman Catholic and Anglican church history - a discussion daddy almost wished he hadn't started after perpetual questions had us ranging from medieval Europe and the reformation through to religious persecution and the founding of modern America!

    Anyway... the view was grand:



    After that, we meandered south through some wonderful forest until we emerged at the head of the spectacular Col de Rousset:



    The crags were stunning. Some youngsters were loading on a coach at the head of the valley, still wearing climbing gear / kit for Via Ferrata: the temptation to break our journey and dig the climbing rack out from the back of the car was great... but we settled for a leisurely potter down the switchbacks....




    Next up came the Open Canoe Festival: a long weekend of paddling and partying at a great spot on the Drôme. I didn't take many photos... but François (who had first contacted us here on SongofthePaddle) used our camera to catch us in action:



    ..and before really knowing who he was, I did get this shot of Peter Stokx of Canad.be:



    ..and further downstream, at the one and only portage (the river was too low to run this one), I caught someone wading in her new Canyongear drysuit:



    For more Festival photos, see the slideshow:



    Paul's also gathered together a huge collection of photos here. Please do take a peek: some of the photography is exceptional... and they give a flavour of an exceptional event.

    From those....



    Some other photos appeared in a public Facebook album, including this one of a gappy child having a great time:



    ..and Paul has kindly forwarded other images, including:



    At the end of the Festival, Claude and François headed over to the Ardèche, and a bit later on we went and joined them feeling very, VERY happy with pretty much everything that had transpired in our first five days, and hoping that the remaining seven could live up to the high standards we'd been setting!

    On the Tuesday we shopped, booked our spot in the Bivouac de Gournier for the Wed night and did touristy-stuff, including paddling the Petite Descente through the Pont d'Arc:



    These were our very, very agreeable companions:



    I managed to just miss a photo of a lad hitting the water following a spectacular dive (with twist) from the platform on the side of the Pont d'Arc:



    Later that evening I got the river to myself: this shows the departure point we would use the next day (from the campsite):



    We set off at about 11.00am (allowing the first rush of paddlers to get well ahead of us: a good move as we did end up with the river pretty much to ourselves). After an hour or so, we stopped for lunch: François was determined to do things at a leisurely pace...



    My own lunch concluded with a less relaxed discussion as I drew the line at filling the Flashfire up with rocks: my daughter had to settle for a photo of one part of her collection...



    Though that didn't make her a happy bunny, and I believe she drew the line at letting go of the two in her hands in this shot:



    That was all at lunch, taken at La Dent Noire:



    I've just seen someone on Facebook report not having seen it so low in 15 years: seems that another 0.5m of water wouldn't have been uncommon for the time of year... though I would have loved to have seen it higher still. Photos on display at the Bivouac de Gournier showed HUGE floods - and I think I read something about the waterlevel going up 9m in places!

    The bivi site was most agreeable, at least when the other folk overnighting were well away from us! We shared with about 50 people that night: nothing compared to the 250 a night that's usual in summer, and the 500 that is common on special occasions. We only had to contend with the 50 because the other bivi spot doesn't open so early in the season.

    In the end, given the low water levels and lack of portaging, we hadn't travelled so very light. Pretty much all the essentials (tent, 2 sleeping bags and mats, spare clothes, cooking equipment) fitted in here:



    ...but (emptying that bag and adding the others from the boat) we also carried a bag with luxuries like a spare kiddie wetsuit, and a huge case with my camera stuff in it, and the hugest imaginable overnight-sack of food: fresh bread, smoked salmon, humous, olives... pain-au-chocoloat... and an absurdly large punnet of strawberries!



    Anyway, a lovely evening was followed by a gentle morning, and then we pottered onwards... down what was perhaps the most dramatic bit of the gorge. We eventually reached our lunch spot for day 2: above La Maladrerie des Templiers - a facinating place...



    After lunch we meandered gently down the final section of the gorge:



    The trip was done by mid afternoon, and François managed to negotiate a lift back to the campsite to collect his car: not so easy as in the past, apparently (the moral of the story being: book a shuttle in advance for your driver for 9 Euros). After a couple of hours we were all loaded up and ready to go for the final part of the trip: the Allier... and having quite co-incidentally already met up with Peter (pictured earlier) and Armelle... who'd arranged back at the festival to join us for our Friday paddle!

    So we headed off in convoy to Chapeauroux: right up to the headwaters of the Ardèche, cresting the watershed and then down into the very different terrain of the Haute-Loire. We reached a great little municiple campground late that Thursday evening... and crashed!

    The next day we pottered slowly as we were hoping for a dam release to increase the water flow. By 11.00am we gave up waiting for a rise in the water levels: someone was ready to paddle....



    Armelle and my daughter getting ready for lunch at a lovely bend in the river: note pet Urry on the rock - who says I travel light



    This was by far and away the best paddling of our trip: the water level was just enough. Routefinding was a tad trickier than it would have been with another 4"/10 cm of water... but the rapids came in quick succession and the best of them were a class apart from what we'd been encountering on the Drôme and Ardèche. The landscape was also darker and more imposing: this felt more like a northern wilderness river!

    We ended the trip at Le Pont d'Alleyras, and then parted with Claude and François, who shot off with a long drive ahead of them. The rest of us found a café with a terrace, supped hot chocolate / ice cream and waited 20 minutes or so for the train that was to be our singularly impressive shuttle back to the start of the trip!

    That was it for the paddling part of our travelling... but the four of us stayed together for another couple of days exploring further down the Allier and stopping to explore as and when we felt so inclined. The river offered up some great views:



    We found one glorious settlement; a very few properties perched on a butress - and not a soul around. My daughter found outcrops to climb and places to play:



    Sometime on the Saturday afternoon, we descended to a crossing on the river with a volcanic plug beside it:



    Armelle found a lovely spot to crochet at the side of the river, disappearing off with my daughter for the better part of an hour. This was the wanderers returning just as Peter and I started wondering what had become of them!



    All too soon we'd finished our wildcamping trip north and had to get motoring home... though we did take, quite co-incidentally, bump into each other en-route a LOT of hours after first parting... and my daughter had one final surprise as I managed to miss the turn to avoid the toll into Paris... so we ended up driving along the Seine and up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and so on at 8pm on the Sunday evening!

    The journey home was otherwise largely uneventful, though my daughter was tickled to get croissant for breakfast when we spotted a boulangerie-patisserie open at at 3:58am in a small French town... and our trusty little motor gave us a bit of trouble around Boulogne. We were home by ~ 5pm and back into the school run the next morning!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    south Cumbria
    Posts
    1,191

    Default

    Nice one Greg - Loch Ken was good, too! But not as good as that ...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    São Paulo - Brazil
    Posts
    2,926
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Fantastic trip!
    Tony BR
    www.companhiadecanoagem.com.br
    www.canoacanadense.com.br/english.htm
    Past 20 years teaching Biology!
    Next 20 building Canoes!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Tasmania, Australia
    Posts
    1,103

    Default

    Looks like a great trip. Shame on you for not fostering your daughter's budding geology career though.

  5. #5

    Default

    Greg, it's a 10/10 blog


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Nr Hampton Court, West London
    Posts
    2,623

    Default

    Great story, and a great adventure.

    Just to add to your Ardeche "levels" the first time I tried to do the Ardeche, I came from the west and dropped into the head of the valley. As I drove down I noticed drift wood in funny places, and then an artic container trailer lodged into someones front wall. When I got to the top of the bit above the arch, the new bridge had been washed away, (erosion of the foundations), and the river, although by then at a reasonable level, was closed by the Gendarmerie, as there had been the most tremendous flood the week before.

    My next, and succesful attempt, several years later, went

    Arrive, leave boat under padlock at the top, drive back and kip in the car. Next morning do the shuttle by bike (a far more demanding activity than paddling the river), lock up bike and paddle down. Boat on roof, drive up and collect bike, drive to the Alps for summer skiing. paddling on the Isere and lift served mountain biking, sometimes all three in one day!

    Oh when I was young.

    Impcanoe

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Wetherby
    Posts
    1,082

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    We had a most enjoyable potter across the plateau, stopping at Valchevrière at a monument to the résistance which led to much discussion of French history over the coming hours, days and weeks... though none so complicated as the discussions of Roman Catholic and Anglican church history - a discussion daddy almost wished he hadn't started after perpetual questions had us ranging from medieval Europe and the reformation through to religious persecution and the founding of modern America!
    Greg,

    An absolutely stunning blog and photographs. However, just expect things to get worse, the more you talk the more they ask. Last weeks discussion as to whether termination of an ectopic pregnancy can ever be justified under Augustinian absolute ethics took things to a new level even for my offspring (and he started it).

    Tyro
    "Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!" said Piglet, feeling him.Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet what happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.

  8. #8

    Default

    Brings back memories of my Ardeche instructor days!

    Thanks!

    Top class blog also!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Central Scotland
    Posts
    4,263
    Journal Entries
    14

    Default

    Great bloggage Greg, thanks for taking the time, great read and some great photos!!
    Cheers,

    Alan


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    19,885

    Default

    Superb trip report Greg, looks like you & Little Mademoiselle Quester had a great time. As always, the photography is top notch too.

    I must paddle somewhere like that soon.......
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Bucks
    Posts
    6,646

    Default

    Excellent blogg Greg.

    Last but one picture is Prades, lovely spot and the mid-point between two excellent sections of the Allier.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default

    @Keith: kinda sad to miss the Loch Ken meet... but we can canoe-sail anytime. We had the expedition rig out on the Jensen briefly during our after-school paddle on South Walsham Broad yesterday. What's harder here is finding moving water, the absense of which was bemoaned by my daughter this morning: picky bugger.

    @Sohojacques: geology career encouraged through lots of discussion of volcanoes, lava, volcanic plugs, sedimentary rocks (sorry, never did get around to metamorphic), uplift, folding (sorry: 6 year old version missed out plate tectonics), fossils, crystals, weathering, erosion and probably more. Oh, and as geology and rock climbing go hand in hand, we also discussed the relative merits of gritstone (Gods own rock) and limestone, and daddy's enthusiasm for the limestone sea cliffs in Pembrokeshire.

    @Tyro: if my daughter's questions in her teenage years get around to whether the termination of an ectopic pregnancy can ever be justified under Augustinian absolute ethics I'll be delighted (assuming the interest is purely academic). I'd be reading hard when my daughter wasn't watching, but delighted. I suppose an interest in philosophy I've read and written about is out of the question...

    @Mal: I'm sure you'd rather be stuck in a tent in Scotland, hiding from strong winds and lashing rain / midges (delete as appropriate) than paddling in t shirt and shorts in the south of France - and anyway, I'm sure they have weighbridges over there and would draw the line at you using the road network to transport everything that goes in your canoe

    @Adrian: yes, Prades. Not quite as much of a "I'd like to move here" spot as St-Didier-d'Allier... but I'd not argue if Gina came home saying we had to move there

    @Everyone who mentioned liking the blog / photos: thanks

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    4,649

    Default

    I started my wife on the collecting-pretty-rocks thing when we were newly married. Now, more than 40 years later, various windowsills, bureaus, and even the center of the dining room table are covered with colorful rocks.

    So, if you let your daughter start at her young age, by the time she is 40 or so, her domicile will be packed with rocks and close to exploding. Help stamp out hoarding.....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Posts
    3,917

    Default

    you certainly had a really great holiday there! a perfect trip with a little bit of everything.

    looking at some of those crags makes my fingers itch and me realise how out of practice i am. living in flat holland took away my climbing but gave me canoeing. i guess if i moved to france i could do both

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ezwater View Post
    Help stamp out hoarding.....
    LOL. Sadly, my daughter invokes "nimblers" to justify filling the boat, car, house and garden with not only rocks but also just about every conceivable form of vegetation. These small creatures, are invisible to mummy and daddy, commonly travel by spaceship but also have their own tiny canoes, in which they accompany us on flatwater paddles. Anyway, it seems to be my daughter's role in life to make shelters and play areas for them just about everywhere we go (including in the canoe, at bivi sites, at lunch spots, and just about anywhere else we go)... and if rocks and vegetation aren't available my daughter tends to start appropriating cooking / camping kit or whatever else comes to hand!

    By the time you've transported a nimbler-home made of sticks, reeds and the like from a playspot in the Broads to home and had it set up in the dining room... the trail of debris is extensive. I try to make sure the previous trail gets as far as outside before it's added to... but that's sometimes tough

    Quote Originally Posted by lowlander View Post
    looking at some of those crags makes my fingers itch and me realise how out of practice i am. living in flat holland took away my climbing but gave me canoeing. i guess if i moved to france i could do both
    Sounds familiar: Norfolk's just as crag-free! Not a huge issue for me yet as my 6 year old climbing partner needs to grow a bit really: she might manage the climbing (mountain-goat like in that respect), but even I would draw the line at her lead-climbing an unbolted route, the belaying of me whilst I led a route could be dodgy... and even if I self-belayed, progress would be painfully slow as I'd almost certainly end up abseiling down and reclimbing every pitch to take out the gear she couldn't remove!

    Maybe we need to find some Via-Ferrata to play on...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Posts
    3,917

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    Maybe we need to find some Via-Ferrata to play on...
    i would not trust her to belay you or lead at that age either, but letting her climb top-rope would be a great way to get her started early. you are always in control and can see her to give her tips and instructions. then move on to 'proper' routes as she gets the hang of it and is a bit older, first with you in the lead.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default

    Me in the lead? I could barely keep up with her as she raced up Jack's Rake last summer

    We have done a bit of top-roping though:



    ...and some abseiling / dangling:



    ...and some scrambling:



    ...and we'll take any opportunity to mess around:



    ...and this was just one of many occasions where we've messed around at home:



    I'm kinda hoping that her god-mother's father (better climber than I ever was) will come with us sometime to tackle a classic long route in the Lakes: twin rope lead, seconds climbing together with a view to being able to provide encouragement and assistance!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    19,885

    Default

    I see Little Miss Scrambler takes the Victorian approach to climbing attire. One must always dress like a lady.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    Posts
    701

    Default

    Looks like you had a really good time Greg. Thanks for all the great photo's. The Drome rally has been on our "wish list" for the last two years but the dates did not fit. Maybe next year.... Nice combination doing the rally and a part of the Allier.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Helensburgh, Scotland.
    Posts
    1,740

    Default

    It looks like you had a fantastic trip Greg. Thanks for posting your blogg, most enjoyable.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default

    I will try and write up the festival itself a bit better when I get a moment... but in the meantime, I've just developed these two shots of early evening pratting around in the garden with prussic loops....

    Nothing to do with paddling in France, but just to show that we're working on that skillset for having even more fun next year






    Ps. Need to upgrade the travel insurance for next year: this year's excludes anything that's any fun, including whitewater above grade II and all technical climbing

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Helensburgh, Scotland.
    Posts
    1,740

    Default

    Crevasse rescue practice in a garden in Norfolk, now I've seen everything!

  23. #23

    Default

    Hello everyone,
    just a link with a few photos of the festival and the trip down the Ardéche with Greg and daughter.
    Cheers
    François
    Ps Sorry the captions are in French!

    https://picasaweb.google.com/Fparigo...KHkh_CZvN-6zwE#

  24. #24

    Post

    An excellent tale with stunning photographs.
    'Just because an opinion is widely held doesn't mean it isn't totally absurd'. Bishop Berkeley.

    http://www.krdoglistener.com

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Posts
    3,917

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    I'm kinda hoping that her god-mother's father (better climber than I ever was) will come with us sometime to tackle a classic long route in the Lakes: twin rope lead, seconds climbing together with a view to being able to provide encouragement and assistance!
    sounds like a great plan. she looks like quite the expert climber already.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    Ps. Need to upgrade the travel insurance for next year: this year's excludes anything that's any fun, including whitewater above grade II and all technical climbing
    travel insurance? what's that again?

  26. #26
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    South Lakes
    Posts
    13,059

    Default

    Another I missed while away. An excellent blog with photos to match. Blog of the year maybe...
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

  27. #27

    Default

    Fantastic thanks for posting. Cheers Paul

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3,556

    Default

    Tim's just posted a great video of his own descent of the wonderful stretch of the Allier than ended our tour.



    Tim includes this quote from Peter Knowles book 'White Water Massif Central'... where this trip is described as...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Knowles
    ...the Jewel in the Crown for paddling in the Massif Central Nearly 40 rapids in all, continuous class 2 white water, with a few easy class 3 rapids, all in a beautiful wild gorge, assured water levels, crystal clear water, and the hot sunshine of southern France
    See A canoe-camp along the 'Jewel in the Crown'

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Bucks
    Posts
    6,646

    Default

    Having been to the Allier several times, I've never done that section. I had a chance one year and ended up doing a quieter section with my wife while the others went upstream. I'll be back!

    Notice the hand on the gunwale at 3.19.


  30. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Somerset lad exiled in Surrey
    Posts
    1,942

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    Notice the hand on the gunwale at 3.19.

    Ooo that's harsh Mr Cooper......Harsh

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    North Wales
    Posts
    738

    Default

    What a lovely adventure....someone has shot up, when you look at Bala photos

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •