Monthly Archives: February 2018

Self-Catering, Single-Centre Tours

Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Tours

This has been our usual style of accommodation in the 14 seasons we have been running our tours.

But we think it might be time for a change. Last year we ran two tours on the Self-Catering, Single-Centre basis and we think some of our clients may like to try it. Below we will describe how it could work for you in practical terms, and for which tours we think it may be suitable.

Self-Catering, Single-Centre Tours

Traditionally we have followed the canoes downstream and stayed in small Inns, B&B and hotels along the way with the occaisonal two night stay in a single place.

To reduce the costs of a holiday it may be practical to stay in a single-centre for the entirety of the tour and ride out to the canoe put-in at the beginning of the day and drive back from the take-out at the end of the day.

We’ve tried this on our 6 Day Célé Tour on several occaisons and stayed at the converted farmhouse at Métairie Bass with Richard & Helen every night. This works well in this area as each days drive is very short and never longer than 30 minutes. However this is NOT self-catering. Although this single-centre is still available we are suggesting that our clients may wish to hire a gîtes (a villa or holiday home) and stay here for a week whilst being ferried to and from the river every day for the canoe tour.

In this way you can stay in the same place and cater for yourselves for the holiday.

Practical Considerations

Q: where do the guides stay?

A: either in the same gîtes or not. It’s up to you. If we share then we’ll be helping out with the catering etc.

Q: who does the cooking?

A: you do unless we are staying in the same gîtes and we’ll do our share.

Q: do we have to self-cater every night

A: no! We can arrange evenings out to restaurants on as many evenings as you like. We can make suggestions for you – we already use some on our Inn-to-Inn tours or course, but feel free to make your own suggestions.

Q: who does the shopping?

A: we do, we have the minibus to to run around and do all the shopping, although you are welcome to join us.

Q: how do we choose and pay for a gîtes?

A: we can do this for you and present you with some choices and costs when we are designing the tour, or you can choose and decide for yourself – in this case we’ll cost the price of the tour without accommodation.

Q: how do we pay for the shopping and evenings out?

A: we can arrange this when we design the tour for you, but generally it will be on a ‘pay as you go’ basis e.g. paying at the shop or restaurant on the day. This allows for greater freedom about choosing when to eat in or out.

Q: what about lunches

A: we will still provide all the picnic lunches when on the river & trail

Q: what about the length of the tour?

A: gîtes are rented by the week in France (usually from Saturday to Saturday) so some of the shorter tours would need to be extended. We could suggest itineraries for these days or they could be free days for you. The minibus would be available.

Q: which tours are suitable for this kind of accommodation

A: we think the following tours would work:

6 Day Célé Tour with driving time to the river at a maximum of 30 minutes. An extra two days could be spent on hiking or wild-swimming or a vineyard visit.

7 Day Perigord Tour, max driving time of about an hour.

8 Day Ardeche Tour, this would have to exclude the hiking in the Cevennes, which would be replaced by other activities – closer hiking routes are available, or other activities are a possibility too, for example vineyard visits or wild-swimming. The maximum driving would be about an hour to/from the river.

8 Day Allier Tour, max driving time to/from the river of about 40 minutes

6 Day Tarn Tour, max driving time to/from the river of about an hour. The extra two days could be spent of further hiking on the causse, wild-swimming etc

 

Any Further Questions?

You can email me directly at stevenhouse@greenrivercanoes.com if you would like any further information or clarification about our tours, whether self-catering or not.

 

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A view over the Allier river from Le Chambon, Velay, France

8 Day Allier River Tour

This is a 7 Night, 8 Day tour in which we canoe down the Allier river for several days. We paddle through a basalt Gorge and downstream through a beautiful green valley. The upstream sections are bouncy and fun whilst lower down the river becomes calmer. We can paddle any number of days and can save the more strenuous parts for later in the week.  We’ve planned for 3 days on the water and three days walking & visiting. We can amend this balance if you prefer. The region also has fabulous hikes: including the start of the Way of St. James and the Robert Louis Stevenson trail as well as more local walks.

  • Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail

  • Full minibus support throughout

  • Includes all accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels, or alternatively in a single base, self-catering gites

  • Includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, unless you are self-catering

  • Join your guides for a pre-breakfast walk

  • optional all day hikes

  • visits to local historic villages & towns

Tour Description

The Allier river, in it`s upper stages is more technical than our usual rivers and has rapids which are described as 2+ or 3. The rapids are fun and not continuous so that there are long stretches between them. Several weirs, with chutes, also have to be negotiated. The lower stretches are easier with quicker water patches rarely above grade 1. We`ll suggest that you paddle a lower section first before tackling the upper stretches.

If the group is in the mood we can also do a mornings rafting on one particular stretch, have a riverside picnic and then paddle further downstream in the afternoon.

The emphasis on this trip is to enjoy the rich history and natural history of the region from the unique viewpoint of the river.

At some point we will stop for a fabulous picnic lunch and in the evenings we will enjoy dinner in small family run restaurants or in the hotels where we are staying – or self-catering if this is the option you`ve taken.

You will be accompanied on the river by an experienced river guide who will make sure you see all the interesting places along the way. If necessary we can provide top-up/reminder paddling lessons if it’s a while since you paddled.

The Allier river flows north in the Massif Central region of France between the Auvergne and the Velay in a area famous for its volcanoes: many of the famous villages and towns are placed on volcanic plugs. It flows for about 100km until it joins the Loire which eventually flows west to the Atlantic.

We will visit the villages and chateaux along the way.

Day to Day description

Day 1. Arrival and first meeting.

You will be met at our arranged meeting point by our guides for your transfer to the Allier valley. This is usually Le Puy-en-Velay Station for those guests arriving by train from Paris.

Alternatively arrangements can be made for arrivals at regional airports: Lyon, for example.

We will meet you off the train that arrives about midday. The drive to Lavoute-Chilhac in the Allier valley takes about  60 minutes. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. It is a 10 minute drive from here to our accommodation, or a 45 minute walk instead.

On our arrival at tour accommodation (small hotel or gites) we will make our evening arrangements and relax before dinner.

Day 2. Today we will explore where we are.

This will involve a visit to our local town at Lavoute-Chilhac and our first look at the river. We can visit the local church and museums too.

The Allier river at Lavoûte-Chilhac, Haute-Loire, France

The Allier river at Lavoûte-Chilhac, Haute-Loire, France

After this we will take a longer hike within the valley of the river, including river side stretches, then rising up the side of the gorge and around the plateau. Along the way will we visit a village or two perched on the volcanic plugs. Somewhere along the way we will have our picnic lunch nand if we’re lucky we’ll find a small cafe somewhere for refreshments.

Chilhac, from the metal suspension bridge, Haute-Loire, France

Chilhac, from the metal suspension bridge, Haute-Loire, France

Day 3. Our first day on the river.

Today we will paddle the Allier river from Lavoute-Chilhac to Brioude, a distance of 24km, stopping for lunch at La Vialette.

Day 4. Continuing down the Allier river.

We will paddle today from Langeac to Lavoute-Chilhac, which is about 17km. We’ll find somewhere to picnic along the way.

 

Day 5. Rafting and paddling

In the morning we can raft on the section of river between Monistrol and Prades with a local guide to take us through the Grade 3 to 5 rapids.

After a riverside lunch we will exchange the raft for canoes and paddle the afternoon down to Langeac, a distance of about 15km.

Day 6. A day off the river

Today we take a day off the river to do some hiking. We have many choices. perhaps a section of the GR65 (Way of St. James) from Monistrol, perhaps the GR70 (Stevenson Trail) or any number of local walks that include the river gorge or the volcanic plateau. We could also visit local villages, several of which are listed in the ‘Le Plus Beaux Villages de France’. Another alternative is to view the river by riding the train from Langogne to Langeac – the railway follows the Allier through the Gorge (no road) and we can look down on stretches of river that we have rafted and paddled.

Day 7. A final day on the Allier river

Our last paddle on the Allier as we go downstream from Brioude, which we can visit first, down to Auzac. This is an easy and relaxing stretch of river and we can take our time and picnic wherever we wish.

 

Day 8. Time to leave

After a leisurely breakfast we will return to Le Puy-en-Velay in time to catch the midday train to Paris – unless we have made other arrangements with you.

Accommodation

The accommodation for this tour has not yet been finally decided. We are considering offering the opportunity on this tour to go for a single base self-catering option – this would probably be in a local gîtes, which is a hired villa, which usually has to be hired from Saturday to Saturday. Obviously some have more space and better facilities than others: a swimming-pool for example.

 

From our accommodation above the Allier At Lavoute-Chilhac

From our accommodation above the Allier At Lavoute-Chilhac

We have not yet finalised our choice of hotels for this tour should you wish to go for our traditional Inn-to-Inn Hotel and B&B accommodation style.

More Details

More information including dates, prices, maps and more photographs can be found on our regular website at the 8 Day Allier Tour page.

8 Day Loire Canoe Tour

Chateau_de_Chenonceau_Ra-smit

Château de Chenonceaux by Ra Smit

Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Tour

This is an 7 Night, 8 Day Tour in which we canoe on the Loir, the Loire, the Creuse and the Cher in the Loire region of central France.

We will explore the valley of the Loire by canoe, see many of its famous Châteaux and experience its cuisine and wines.

The tour includes:

  • canoeing on 4 different rivers
  • is Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
  • all transport between hotels and rivers
  • includes all accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
  • includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
  • a canoe through the Château Chenonceaux
  • picnics on islands and wild swims
  • a visit to the Château where Leonardo Da Vinci lived
  • visits to several other famous Châteaux
  • and a visit to the Parc Naturel Regional la Brenne
Château de Chambord by Arnold Scherer

Château de Chambord by Arnold Scherer

Tour description

 The rivers of the Loire valleys are flowing west towards the Atlantic Ocean at Nantes. The Loire itself is one of Frances longest at about 1000km, and is reputed to have 1000 Chateaux along its length. The Loir is a picturesque tributary of the Sarthe river which flows into the Loire. It generally flows parallel to the Loire and slightly north. The Cher is a tributary of the Loire that runs just south of it and joins it near Tours. The Creuse river is south of the Loire and runs through the Parc Naturel La Brenne.
The rivers are calm, if a little quick in places, with easy paddling through beautiful scenery. We can expect little more than riffles and no rapids. During the day we will find an island to take our picnic lunch on and if the weather is hot enough enjoy a wild swim or two. We will have plenty of fun weaving between the islands and should have plenty of opportunity for wildlife watching.

In the evenings we will be able to spend time visiting the small riverside towns where we are staying before out evening dinner together either at the hotel or out in the town. We will also keep an eye out for local events that often occur in these towns and villages during the summer months: fetes, concerts and the like. Before our canoeing excursion each day we will perhaps visit a local market to procure our picnic lunch for the day.

Of course throughout we shall stay at remote and beautiful places and enjoy the regional cuisine and the local wines.

We will pass several Châteaux on the river as we canoe by but we will also have the opportunity to visit many of the Châteaux in person. Those of note include the Chambord, Blois, Chenonceux, Chaumont, Amboise, and Clos Lucé (where Leonardo da Vinci lived).

More details can be found on our website about this and all our other tours.

A 6 Day version of this Tour is available too.

Château de Châteaudun by Patrick Giraud

Château de Châteaudun by Patrick Giraud

Day to Day Schedule

Day 1. Arrival

You will be met at the Orléans TGV Railway station sometime around midday.

Alternative arrangements can be made for arrivals, such as at regional airports, by prior arrangement.

We will drive to Lavardin (1hr30mins) and stop here for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together.  If it’s warm enough we will have a wild swim in the Loir or take a walk around the beautiful hilltop town.

We will then have a 55 minute drive to our accomodation in Châteaudun, where we will stay for the evening.

Taking a break at Rigny-Usse on the River Loire, France

Taking a break at Rigny-Usse on the River Loire, France

Day 2. A paddle on the Loir

Today we will paddle the Loir river. In the morning we will have time to wander the town first, and perhaps visit the castle, before we drive upstream to Marboué  and then paddle back down to Châteaudun (6.5km). We will find a place for our picnic lunch on the island in town.

In the afternoon we will paddle from Douy to Saint-Jean Froidmentel (15km) and enjoy the scenery as we go.

After our paddle we will drive to Blois (about 45mins) to our hotel in the town. We will have time to wander around around before dinner in the evening.

Steve and Coral paddling on the River Loire, France

Steve and Coral paddling on the River Loire, France

Day 3. First day on the Loire.

Today we will travel up to Cavereau and paddle back to Blos (20km). We will have plenty of time to wild swim along the way as we explore the islands. Somewhere along the way we will stop for our picnic lunch.

During the paddle we will pass the château de Colliers, Church of Saint Dyé sur Loire (former port of Chambord), the village of Cour sur Loire and the Château de Menars.

After the paddle we will visit a local Chateau. The famous Chambord is close by, as are several others.

Tonight we will stay at the same hotel as last night.

Steve and Coral on the Loire, France

Steve and Coral on the Loire, France

Day 4. Second day on the Loire

Today we continue our paddle on the Loire and continue from Blois as we head to Chaumont (20km). Again we will be dodging islands, swimming and finding a private spot for our lunch.

We will paddle through Blois and pass by the Port de la Creusille, where you can see the traditional boats of the Loire.

Afterwards we will take the time to wander around the pretty town of Chaumont, again with its classic Chateau. We are staying in a hotel in town so we have plenty of time to explore before dinner.

Château de Clos Lucé by Nadègevillain

Château de Clos Lucé by Nadègevillain

Day 5. Third day on the Loire

Again we continue our adventure down the Loire as we head towards Amboise (18km).

More exploring of islands and such!

We will paddle beneath both the Château of Chaumont sur Loire and the Château Amboise.

At Amboise we will explore the Châteaux and perhaps also the Clos Luce which is the chateau where Leonardo de Vinci lived out his last years.

We then have to drive to our hotel at Le Blanc in the Parc Naturel La Brennes on the River Creuse (90mins).

The River Loire and the Chateau at Amboise, Loire, France

The River Loire and the Chateau at Amboise, Loire, France

Day 6. A canoe on La Creuse

In the morning we will have time to explore where we are staying before starting our day on the river.

Today we are paddling La Creuse a pretty river running through the Parc Naturel. After a short drive upstream we will put-in at Scoury, paddle past where we where staying at Le Blanc ou Le Blanc and continue onto Tournon St Martin. This is an all day paddle and we will, as usual, find a spot for our picnic lunch and very likely a place for a swim or two.

After our canoe we will relax on the riverbank for a little while enjoying the local wines before a short drive to Chenonceaux (80mins) where we will be staying for the night.

Steve and Coral arrive at Montsoreau under the Chateau, Loire, France

Steve and Coral arrive at Montsoreau under the Chateau, Loire, France

Day 7. A paddle on the Cher

 After a wander to explore our surroundings we will take to the Cher for a days paddle (18km) which finishes with a spectactular paddle beneath the Château Chenonceaux.

 This really is a wonderful stretch of river and we will take all day to enjoy it with a sumptious  picnic half-way through the long day as well as perhaps a swim or too.

When we are finished we will go for a beer or a glass of wine or an ice-cream in a cafe which overlooks the final stretch of our days paddling. If possible we will find the time to visit the Châteaux too.

We return to the same hotel we stayed in last night in Chenonceaux where we celebrate our adventures on the rivers of the region by having our final nights dinner together.

Kristine, Steve and Coral on Picnic Island, Loire, France

Kristine, Steve and Coral on Picnic Island, Loire, France

Day 8. Departure and Farewells

When we are ready we will drive for an hour and a half to the Orléans TGV Railway station for our return to Paris and beyond.

If time allows we can arrange to visit any of the Châteaux we may have missed, or indeed anything else in the vicinity, before the train departure.

Château de Blois by Tango1774

Château de Blois by Tango1774