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Thread: Tarn Gorge June 2019

  1. #1
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    Default Tarn Gorge June 2019

    Part 2 of our Ardeche/Tarn adventure.

    So we left St Martin-d'Ardeche mid afternoon and drove west for three hours, through the Cevennes National Park, and down too Florac, on the Tarn. We only had three days to play with so decided to continue downstream to get on the river at Montbrun...

    A quick sort out in the car park ....


    and we're off again to find somewhere to sleep for the night.... another lovely spot..

    The next morning a quick dip ......



    then off down to Castebouc, a small hillside village tucked into the cliffs




    a nice place for a wander.... and a look back at our boats on the beach



    Back on the water we head for St Enemie. The Tarn is at a higher altitude than the Ardeche so the water is cooler and the hillsides greener...



    but it's still really hot in the middle of the day... and there's only one thing to do.....zzzzzz



    A quick stop at St Enemie for supplies and on to the beautiful St Chely sur Tarn......the stuff of fairytales really..





    then we're looking for somewhere to sleep and it starts to feel quite wild even though the road is never far away.....








    after another peaceful night we continue down past the fancy hotel 'La Chateau La Caze' in the early morning....



    We stop and have a look at Hauterives, a small village on the left bank only accessible by boat or foot. There's a cableway to supply the village which I don't think people are allowed in....or maybe they are?



    T
    he village is gradually being restored and they obviously have a great roofer on the job...




    Gently over the weir at La Malene for refreshments and more supplies.... last year the river here rose 1.8 mtrs in 36 hrs two days after we went through.



    it's hot again...



    then it's onwards to look for our last night stop on the river but it is still very hot.....



    but we find the perfect spot deep in the gorge ....



    time to chill a bit before the long journey home.....



    and light the fire for the one fish we caught......



    We hadn't seen anyone for hours but as the light was fading suddenly this lot came round the corner....Paddleboarders with built-in lights in their paddles! I think they were as surprised to see us as we were to see them! All very friendly though.....



    We're up early for a quick paddle to the get out before the Pas de Souci (where the river disappears beneath boulders).



    time for a last swim while we wait for Ben to get back with the car.....



    then the long drive home .....another night in a field somewhere north of Paris..... 15 hrs driving maybe and we're back home in Herefordshire.

    The great thing, I realise, about writing a blog is you get to relive the trip. What luck we had, and even though the temperatures were in the high 30's all week we had the river to swim in when it all got too much.

    We had a one twisted knee, some bruised ribs (from the glisiere capsize), total deafness for a few days (from too much diving in!), the odd burn or cut but no real disasters. The boats took a bit of a battering, particularly Pete's 25yr old Dagger which needed a bit of TLC along the way.



    but Pete got to work when he got home and I reckon there's another 25 years left in that boat now...



    So any suggestions for our next multi-day touring trip in Europe gratefully received.
    We like wild camping, sunshine, a bit of white water, wilderness and cheap red wine. Happy to drive for a couple of days.
    Hope you enjoy the blog and thanks for the pre-trip advice.....you know who you are!

  2. #2
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    Awesome, having done the Tarn a number of times now, I do fancy a sneaky wild camp trip.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  3. #3
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    I don’t know what the legal position is in France. We didn’t camp in the Ardeche nature reserve where camping is clearly forbidden. But we work on the principle of being discrete and leaving no trace behind, just like we would in Scotland (or anywhere else in the U.K. for that matter). There was plenty of evidence that people have camped and any French people we met on the river were friendly and seemed pleased we were out there enjoying ‘le tranquilite’’.

  4. #4
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    Nice trip, thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
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    Looks like magical stuff. I think we are going to visit France in 2020. Trying to pick some trips that balance enjoyment and adventure for the kids. Thanks for blogging it!
    The early bird may catch the worm... but the second mouse gets the cheese!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timtimpeggy View Post

    So any suggestions for our next multi-day touring trip in Europe gratefully received.
    We like wild camping, sunshine, a bit of white water, wilderness and cheap red wine. Happy to drive for a couple of days.
    Hope you enjoy the blog and thanks for the pre-trip advice.....you know who you are!
    Hoping that I didn't miss any references to you already having been there - the Allier starting in Langeac is something I like a lot, and the Dordogne in autumn, starting in Argentat. The Allier is wonderfully free, some hassle of course (glissières apparently built for no other reason than to be impossible to navigate), but plenty of nice camping spots. Same for the Dordogne, but in autumn shopping for food can be more of a challenge. In summer it seems you can play Jesus and walk across the water (okay, boats).

    The legal situation in France as I gather: Paris is far away. Which is to say, there might be rules, but rarely do I find the French to actually care. Their attitude mainly is that nature is there, the weather is fine, and why should we not make the best of it?
    That being said, I would not camp in a nature reserve. And it also goes without saying that whether the French care or not, one leaves clean campsites.

    I know of no river in Germany where you can feel as free about wild camping as you can in France.


    Cheers,


    Malte

  7. #7

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    Yet more inspiration, looked fantastic and the wild camping a bonus! Great stuff.

  8. #8
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    I’m loving how relaxed this paddle looked. The weather helped I’m sure with the sunshine and the swimming.
    John

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malfred View Post
    Hoping that I didn't miss any references to you already having been there - the Allier starting in Langeac is something I like a lot, and the Dordogne in autumn, starting in Argentat. The Allier is wonderfully free, some hassle of course (glissières apparently built for no other reason than to be impossible to navigate), but plenty of nice camping spots. Same for the Dordogne, but in autumn shopping for food can be more of a challenge. In summer it seems you can play Jesus and walk across the water (okay, boats).

    The legal situation in France as I gather: Paris is far away. Which is to say, there might be rules, but rarely do I find the French to actually care. Their attitude mainly is that nature is there, the weather is fine, and why should we not make the best of it?
    That being said, I would not camp in a nature reserve. And it also goes without saying that whether the French care or not, one leaves clean campsites.

    I know of no river in Germany where you can feel as free about wild camping as you can in France.


    Cheers,


    Malte
    Hi Malte,
    we did spend two days on the Allier last year, paddling between Prades and Lavoute Chilhac, but it was raining, the river was high and, all in all, quite hairy with fully loaded boats. So the idea of going back and spending more time there in more benign conditions is tempting, as is the Dordogne so thanks for the tips.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    I’m loving how relaxed this paddle looked. The weather helped I’m sure with the sunshine and the swimming.
    We had to relax, it was just too hot to paddle in the middle of the day! My rigorous plan of getting to St Martin in 3 days was quickly abandoned, after a small mutiny, and we had a better time for it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by broadsman View Post
    Looks like magical stuff. I think we are going to visit France in 2020. Trying to pick some trips that balance enjoyment and adventure for the kids. Thanks for blogging it!
    Hi Broadsman,
    we took our kids there 20 years ago and had a great time. There are lovely campsites on the river, plenty of pretty villages for ice-creams and the river is perfect...not too difficult and idyllic places for swimming. Enjoy!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timtimpeggy View Post
    Hi Malte,
    we did spend two days on the Allier last year, paddling between Prades and Lavoute Chilhac, but it was raining, the river was high and, all in all, quite hairy with fully loaded boats. So the idea of going back and spending more time there in more benign conditions is tempting, as is the Dordogne so thanks for the tips.
    Yes, the river does get more suave after Langeac. :-)

    Cheers,


    Malte

  13. #13
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    Fantastic river and good to see what it's like at that time. The stone roof tiles on the buildings are just amazing, it's a wonder they don't collapse under the weight!

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