Guest Blog: Day 5: Célé: Caves & Chutes

Day 2 on the Célé: Down to Cabrerets

Today dawned early for those of us who decided to follow Steve on a 1 ½ hour hike at 6:30 am.  We hiked 4 miles as the sun rose and found an ancient dolmen where chieftains would have been buried with their worldly goods thousands and thousands of years ago.  We checked out the beautiful fields around us, the wildflowers and orchids that Steve loves to find (found several monkey orchids here along with a sleeping butterfly)!  Nearing the inn, we also found a shrew in the middle of the road – had never seen one!  He was dead…..

a1 Today we are out at 6-30 AM for a 4 mi hike

An early morning walk on the Causses above the Célé river

After breakfast of wonderful breads, yogurt, fruit and coffee, we are off at 9am to visit the caves at Pech Merle, near the Lot River.  We had a guided tour through this ancient cave containing stalactites, stalagmites, 70 different representations of animals from spotted horses, bison, mammoths, aurochs, horses, etc.   Paintings were done in black or red using coal or a magnesium oxide and spots were made by blowing the paint from their mouths.  We found ancient footsteps preserved in the calcium carbonate along with pearls made from the cascading waters.  It was a moist environment in the cave and all of us found it difficult to breathe – we are assuming from low oxygen levels.  As fascinating as it was, it was nice to be out in the fresh air after an hour!

PechMerle_SpottedHorse-2

The famous spotted horse cave painting at Pech Merle

Next we drove through another old village near the river – these villages are alive with bright spring flowers against the backdrops of yellow limestone and sometimes crumbling structures of old abbeys, churches etc.  Most of the houses seem well preserved, although many are still shuttered for the season.  Getting to the river at Marcilhac, we are ready for our paddle down to Cabrerets after a stop for coffee and a Danish.  I was teamed with Annie for the morning paddle – Marlee, Annie and I have been switching off to paddle with Steve.

c27 Another delicous picnic prepared by George-Steve!

Another delicious picnic prepared by George/Steve at Sauliac-sur-Célé!

We paddled to a beautiful spot along the river – “George, our driver, shopper, picnic maker, always seems to find a great spot with a picnic table and such for a wonderful lunch spread.  Marlee and I have the afternoon paddle together.

d30 We have some very wet and cold paddlers!

After a small accident (and wild swimming) a tow is in order!

There have been a couple of water chutes that some have gone through – I skipped the first one – those in the bow of the boat got VERY wet!  Marlee and Steve did the second one – and I have it all recorded!  We had an unfortunate incident near the end of the paddle – Patty and Paul managed to dunk in the river – got tangled up in a big overhanging branch along the bank.  All was well and retrieved – but not sure how Paul’s camera fared….

d37 Having a great time - smile Steve!!

Steve, Annie and Marlee at St. Cirq Lapopie

On the way home, we stopped at beautiful old village called St Cirq Lapopie that Steve sometimes stays in and walked the cobble-stoned streets – wish we had been able to spend more time there!  Patty and Paul were waiting in the van staying warm.

e43 Beautiful flowers

Flowers and rooftops at St. Cirq Lapopie

We returned to the inn around 6pm– it has been a long day!  Dinner is at 7:30, again beginning with an aperitif before of walnut wine (homemade of course!).  A young couple has joined us – they are from Germany and are hiking for 5 days – approximately 12-15 miles a day with a donkey carrying their belongings.  They will stay in hostels along the way.  Another rousing dinner of a traditional English pork stew and baked apples & ice cream for dessert.  Bed felt wonderful at 10:30!

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

Details of this tour can be found here: Green River Canoes 12 Days 3 Rivers

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