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.

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