Paddling through the Pont D’Arc
Today we tackled the Ardeche river as it flows underneath the famous natural rock arch at Pont D’Arc and flows on down through the Ardeche Gorge.
We made an early start on the river 6km above the Pont D’Arc and tackled the rapids before reaching the arch. The river was quite low so many of the rapids had turned into rock fields. Wayne & Melissa became at one rapid and tipped out. They were fine as they swam to the nearest beach but the boat rescue and our safety was hampered by a woodcutting crew who were dealing with a fallen tree close by. Ed & Vonda helped me retrieve the canoe and we managed a T-rescue mid-stream before getting back on board and on our way.
By the time we had paddled through the arch and down to Charme it had become apparent that the day was going to get too long, too technical and too demanding. After a brief discussion we decided to leave the Ardeche and paddle the Ceze river in the afternoon instead. Steve was right there with the van so it didn’t take too long to get organised.
An hour later we turned up at Goudargues and got the boats organised before the short drive upstream to Montclus and the put-in. It was time for lunch however and whilst everyone wandered around the pretty village we got a picnic set up in the small play park where we shared a table with some French cyclists. It turned out very friendly indeed.
After lunch we got going on the paddle but then realised that the type of canoe was not comfortable for Ed. He decided to abandon canoeing for the day, which was disappointing, but the rest of us continued.
When we were between two weirs, where we had to manhandle the boats, we came across a mother & child who had discovered a turtle in the river. These are not native and must have been introduced or escaped.
After resting for a while and cooling off in the river we continued on our way downstream until we heard a massive racket in the trees above our heads and noticed that we were underneath a Heronry. The young herons made a lot f noise when the parents turned up to feed them!
Not long after that we arrived at Goudargues where Steve & Ed were waiting for us.
At the end of the afternoon we visited the pretty cliff-top village of Aigueze before having dinner in St. Martins and a drive up the Ardeche Gorge road.