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Thread: River Ain - Barrage de Vouglans (Canada at the gates of Lyon)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    SW France

    Default Canada at the gates of Lyon : River Ain


    after a bit of dead time over the xmas period pouring over maps, I went last weekend to check out what looked to be a promising area for a bit of paddling in the upper area of the river Ain in the Jura region of France. I specifically headed for a lake created by the hydro-electric scheme on the upper Ain around the barrage at Vouglans. Paul Villecourt described it as "Canada at the gates of Lyon" going on to say that it is like that out of season only really. Worth a look while I'm over this way, I thought.

    Thought I'd share the results and also some observations from the area :-

    The Ain offers about 200 kms of paddling with some significant breaks in navigation around the hydro schemes near and just below the barrage at Vouglans where there are three major dams. I intend to check out the river descent into the Barrage at Vouglans in a seperate visit or two but broadly the navigation breaks up as follows :-

    Upper Ain from the source : river route navigable (I think) from about Pont de Navoy down to Vouglans with a few portages. To be confirmed.
    Mid section : (Vouglans and other barrages) : see below
    Lower section to the Rhone (from around Pont d'Ain) : about 35 kms big wide and predominantly flat paddling to the confluence with the Rhone just above Lyon.

    The area around the Barrage :

    The area was empty of people at the time I headed over however it is clear that in summer the area is a major tourism spot with a series of Plages which will be pretty busy in summer I'd say.

    The Barrage and what it creates :

    from about a third of the way up, looking North ...

    Looking South towards the barrage :

    The lake is about 35 km above the barrage with the areas being divided into 3 zones. The lower zone is reserved for non-motor craft, the middle is motorised with the top being a key place for fishing from what I can see. As far as I can tell, none of that makes any difference in winter as there was not a soul there but I'd probably avoid it in summer.

    One of the put in areas at a "port" with a beach area next to it for summer :

    I then drove round the barrage and checked out the smaller lake created by the next barrage below Vouglans. which offers about 17 kms of paddling to the next barrage and also is joined by a very navigable river at the top area of that lake. There are also a couple of camp sites which open around May time.

    Not bad >>>

    Suffice to say that I'm going back over with a boat before the world gets there.

    Not a blog so I posted this here but the blog will be as soon as I can get there again.

    Hope this gives people an idea or two.
    Last edited by MarkL; 12th-January-2015 at 12:36 PM.
    Open Canoe hire/outfitting in the Massif Central
    ”We will make your trip work”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Nr Rochester in Kent



    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Nice, looking forward to the blogg.
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    I have been there in the summer, it was quite nice, but as you quite rightly indicated a load of boats and people. The River Ain Pont de Navoy down was a great paddle .
    Bacon sarnie anyone ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Far worse ways of spending a day than visiting places dreaming of future paddles. Looks good to me.

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