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Thread: Canoeing and Camping Near the Ardeche, France

  1. #1

    Default Canoeing and Camping Near the Ardeche, France

    Hi All,

    I wonder if anyone would be able to offer some advice about a potential holiday plan for this year to the Ardeche region of France in August? Having canoed along the Dordogne last year we had a fantastic time, but we hired a canadian canoe when out there, and I was very aware that we just went downstream and got picked up and taken back to our car at the end. Is there a reason we met no one else paddling back themselves or were we just caught in a touristy area? This year we'd like to take our own canoe and explore a different part of France, so I'd be really interested to know if this is doable in the Ardeche region without the support of a hire company to take you back to your start point etc, or whether you can get upstream etc. I'd also be interested to know if there's usually enough water in August to take a canadian canoe, as even in September I was amazed how shallow a lot of the Dordogne seemed to be where we were based (Beynac-et-Cazenac)!
    Although Beynac was stunning, it seems mad to end up too close to this place again, which is why I've plucked for the Ardeche, but would be very open to suggestions for other sunny paddle and camping trips.

    Many thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Surrey
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    Hello and Welcome!

    The Ardeche gets very busy, and much of it is moving water you wouldn't be able to paddle against, though there may well be slower sections I haven't heard about.

    You might want to consider the Cele, a perfect smaller river in a lovely valley with lots of impressive limestone outcrops, further west near Figeac. Its on a friendly scale, though you'd still tend to paddle just one direction. I've paddled upstream bits though, not really a problem but you might have to get out and drag occasionally. The nearby Lot is bigger, and easier to paddle up against the flow in summer.

    Have a look here for an idea:http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...he-rapid-river

    MarkL of this website lives nearby, which is how we got to know about it. He will readily offer advice (and will probably pop along here at some point), but also has set himself up to help people in your situation should you wish to have the arrangements taken care of for you. If the latter appeals, have a look at his website: https://www.canoemassifcentral.com/, but as I say he'll be happy to advise if you want to do your own thing.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Bucks
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    6,646

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    I suspect no-one paddles back because the current makes it hard work.

    The Beynac area does contain some shallow water but there is usually enough throughout the summer. We have often been there in July/August and the levels are fine. Remember there is a big reservoir at the head of the valley to maintain flows below Argentat. Indeed, you could stick with this river and just explore further upstream.

    The Ardeche is lovely, especially the gorge but this does mean that it is very popular and will be busy even compared with the lower section of the Dordogne. As to travelling upstream, again, it would be hard but not impossible and a section through the Gorge would be really arduous. You would be using 'traditional' skills of lining your boat on ropes or poling.

    The way we always manage our trips is to make sure we travel with other people and have at least two cars, that way you can always deal with the shuttle yourselves. I am sure someone will be along recommending cycling back or using some sort of 'monkey bike'.

    Personally I would prefer the Allier, much less busy, less spectacular but really nice paddling.

    Please share your plans with us.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Nr Hampton Court, West London
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    I "used" MarkL on the Cele a couple of weeks ago, slightly thwarted by a peak flow. However, I camped in the middle, by the river, met marks"man" at the junction with the Lot, left my car, was transported up to a put in, paddled to the campsite, with the intention of completing the next day, spoilt by the difficult conditions on the lower three weirs. Although a WWRace kayak passed the campsite going up stream, it would have been very hard work in a laden trad boat.

    Impcanoe

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW France
    Posts
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    Hi

    i think most has been covered by the guys above really. The Massif rivers don't really generally lend themselves to significant stretches of upstream travel unless you really like lining and polling a lot.

    i personally can't think of anywhere you'd want to do it on the ardeche. If you really fancy the river though, you could speak to Danny at experience ardeche and see if he is running a shuttle anytime you would be there that you could tag onto. It's a long way from our ground.

    Despite being "used" by Impcanoe, we don't normally just run shuttle taxis though I may be able to sort something out for the Cele given dates.

    Levels iin august/September will normally be low but it depends on your choice of location as some are maintained a bit by barrage releases
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central


  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I do know that I was privileged to be treated so well by Mark. In self deference, he did offer!!

    and was very much appreciated

    Impcanoe

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW France
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impcanoe View Post
    I do know that I was privileged to be treated so well by Mark. In self deference, he did offer!!

    and was very much appreciated

    Impcanoe
    more like special case

    i forgot to ask the OP, how much (and what sort of) paddling are you wanting to do ?
    are you looking to do a few days canoe camp/tripping, single "day out" etc ?
    also, what sort of water are you comfortable with ? White water etc

    The ardeche run would require some decent moving water experience before attempting it tandem without anyone guiding/supporting and is typically an overnight in the gorge at one of the two bivi sites. It's very different from the dordogne.
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central


  8. #8

    Default

    Thank you so much for your swift responses - lots of things to think about.

    Will definitely look into the Cele, trying to get upstream in the Ardeche perhaps doesnt sound like my idea of a holiday! As a curveball, another friend mentioned Annecy for lake paddling to reduce the issues that come with getting upstream etc. Having given it a quick google it looks really pretty, although it may feel a little tame and perhaps a bit congested in peak summer?

    In terms of the amount of paddling I'm envisaging - We're going as a couple, one is very experienced with lots of sea kayaking etc under his belt, and me, who although competent is less experienced with white water! Am very up for wild camping along banks etc, or having a permanent "base" somewhere and having a couple of day trips out in addition to nice walking etc.

    Thanks

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Knoydart
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libby View Post
    Thank you so much for your swift responses - lots of things to think about.

    Will definitely look into the Cele, trying to get upstream in the Ardeche perhaps doesnt sound like my idea of a holiday! As a curveball, another friend mentioned Annecy for lake paddling to reduce the issues that come with getting upstream etc. Having given it a quick google it looks really pretty, although it may feel a little tame and perhaps a bit congested in peak summer?

    In terms of the amount of paddling I'm envisaging - We're going as a couple, one is very experienced with lots of sea kayaking etc under his belt, and me, who although competent is less experienced with white water! Am very up for wild camping along banks etc, or having a permanent "base" somewhere and having a couple of day trips out in addition to nice walking etc.

    Thanks
    I would very much check out the Loire. Your go to contact here is my friend Joris at http://www.destination-h2o.fr/. Tell him I sent you his way. He will have lots of ideas to share about routes and potential camp spots etc. He also speaks/writes very good english.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW France
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    Upper section of the Loire can also be fun if there is water.
    Annecy will be busy.
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central


  11. Default

    We used these guys two years ago http://www.ardeche-canoe.com/en/ to transport us and our two boats back to Vallon Pont d'Arc after our 2 day paddle overnighting at Gournier bivuac site (which I thoroughly recommend!). It was all hassle free, left the car with them. It was the only canoe operator in the area who agreed to sell us just the shuttle. We went midweek in early June and had the river almost to ourselves.Hope this helps

  12. #12

    Default

    If you fancied a guided/coached holiday in the Ardeche then I can recommend TNR Coaching. They're based in North Wales but head south every summer and run weeks on the Ardeche. We went with them a couple of years ago, and are doing it again this summer.

    I don't know if they've got anything available now as they tend to get booked up well in advance, but it might be worth dropping them a line.

    http://www.tnrcoaching.co.uk/canoe-t...che/4590876332

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