Tag Archives: Célé

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.

 

Advertisements
Sauliac-sur-Cele, Lot, France

Down by the river

The Ancienne Grange at Sauliac-sur-Célé

Last summer before we’d hardly noticed the evenings were beginning to shorten we took a weeks holiday in the Célé valley, a little known tributary of the Lot river just up from Cahors in the centre of France.

Our intention was to explore the valley by canoe and foot, meander around some of the pretty villages along the way and make sure to visit the famous painted caves at Pech Merle. We left the hot and sulky city of Paris and took the slow train through the heart of France. The TGV has yet to penetrate these parts so we enjoyed our leisurely arrivals at Chateauroux, Limoges, Uzerche, Brives and eventually Cahors as we drew in on a hot and bright afternoon.

From here, and with some kerfuffle, we picked up our hired minibus and started our drive upstream following the course of the Lot, before bearing off at Conduché to follow the sinuous Célé past Cabrerets and onto Sauliac-sur-Célé where we spent some time trying to locate our gîte. Naturally, for such a tiny village, we drove around in several circles before finding our prize: the The Ancienne Grange at the Terrasses des Fargues.

 

We were met by our hosts Marian and Brian, and were quickly given the run down of the place and how it works. Somebody is supposed to pay attention during these things, but everyone is too excited to be finally here, slightly hot and bothered by the long day and the early start, and really, to be honest, keen to throw the luggage down, kick off their shoes and sit in the sun with a glass of something that says ‘now we are on holiday’. We can figure out how the oven and hob work later.

 

And here we are. Stop clattering about. Sit down. Look around. We are sat at a round table in a small garden in front of the house nestling below the track to the main house and divided by it by Lavenders and Gaura which are heavy with the drone of bees and aflight with numerous butterflies in myriad colours and shapes. Below us is the village road, and below that the valley road and just perceptible through the bank side trees glistens the Célé. We can glimpse a small bank with a tiny sandy beach and a wooden hut which we are told is a buvette. Across the river, almost hidden amongst the trees a Château of yellow stone, now falling into the sun’s shadow, is separated from us as the river turns away in a succession of small waves catching the last light.


 

Rising early and before the others were ready for breakfast I thought I’d go and explore Old Sauliac which lies behind us, higher above the road and tucked in below the cliffs. Before the road along the valley floor was even built a track meandered down the valley towards the major Lot valley and the original village was built alongside this.

This track is now known as the GR651 and is an offshoot of the famous GR51, known as the Way of St. James or the Camino de Santiago de Compostela: one of the many pilgrim routes that lead through France and over the Pyrenees to the cathedral at Santiago in northern Spain. The route now is a minor diversion off the main path across the Causse de Quercy, but still a relatively popular one. In times past the Priory at Marcilhac, further up the valley, was a major pilgrim destination, but it’s importance faded away as the fame, and holiness, of Rocamadour prevailed. The villages down the valley at Boussac, Espagnac, Marcilhac, Sauliac and Cabrerets still offer accommodation for walkers along this trail in gites d’etapes – above the door you can see the shell symbol of St. James.

This morning I stepped up to the track above our gites and turned left along the trail past the main house of Marian and Brian and turned the corner where the track went down. This seemed wrong so I hunted around and found another track leading up around the back of the other house until it broke onto a proper trail. I could sense that this was the main long-distance track. I could also see the tell-tale red/white flash painted on the rocks. I turned left again in the direction of Cabrerets. If I were a pilgrim that would be my destination for the day: perhaps a good stiff walk of 15 miles or so.

For me it was to be a gentle flat stroll for twenty minutes out and back along a path cut into the base of of the yellow limestone cliff; cut well enough and flat enough for a decent sized cart to be pulled along. On my right the cliff soared above me and to my left the cliff dropped away. On my right several caves, with doors, had been built into the cliff. On my left I was level with the tiled roof-tops of houses built into the cliff below me. Quite a few were still in use but several were merely ruins – walls grown over with ivy and trees growing through the floors. Newer houses, and indeed a new church, had been built closer to the valley floor when the new road had been built and most villagers had migrated down from the cliffs.

These houses were of necessity tight and constricted with tiny gardens cut into several terraces. It must have been a precarious existence. I followed the track around the cliff base until I came to a point where a gap in the trees below allowed a view across the valley. The river shone and glistened but what really surprised was the size of the Château. What could merely be glimpsed could now be seen as an extensive arrangement of towers, wings and outbuildings. What had it been built for and by whom. And who lives there now?


Our lodgings in Sauliac-sur-Cele, Lot, France

Our lodgings in Sauliac-sur-Cele, Lot, France

Returning from a day on the river and the converted barn that was our gites provided a welcome and cool oasis. After perhaps grabbing a beer from the fridge a lie down in the shade was welcome. Everyone else disappeared to their rooms. Outside all was silent. Nothing stirred. No breeze, Not even the drone of a summer aeroplane.


 

Some days on our return the swimming pool beckoned. A tiptoe downstairs and out the back door, a quick hobble across the stones in the back yard before reaching the smooth steps and the gate to the pool area. The hard turquoise reflected the glare of the afternoon sun. Some were already splayed on the loungers. Not brave enough to attack the cold water directly with a dive I edged my way warily down the smooth steps. I perhaps swam a length or two in leisurely strokes before sitting on the steps.

Nothing much was happening. The others dozed. Perhaps read. Nothing much needed to be said. Just a question of lingering here before deciding that perhaps it was time for a drink, or indeed perhaps it was time for someone to start thinking about dinner. It’s still silent. Not a bird can be heard. A faint buzzing from a Humming-bird Hawkmoth bothering the lavender if you listened carefully. And then a splash as someone else decided they were too hot. A few desultory slaps of water around the pool edges. “Ready for a drink?”


Before the day got started, which means before everyone is up, a couple of us decided to walk down to the river and give it an inspection. Let’s pretend we know something, act as water-bailiffs and nod sagely at the level of the river and suchlike.

So we walked down our lane to the village road, turned left down the hill underneath our place, until we came to the little track on the left which fell down the bank to the valley road. After ducking under a few trees we came to the road and skipped across it to the small park on the river bank. No-one is about at this time of the morning. It feels like the early morning mist has only just left but it’s still too early for any warmth to have crept into the day. The shack of the buvette is shuttered and empty. The river has fallen in the night and the shingle beach that is usually here is now beginning to be exposed. Usually I arrive at this beach by canoe, as I will later this afternoon, and it feels slightly incongruous to be here now at this time of day. The round concrete table and its three concrete benches remind me of many picnic lunches spent here over the years. Always the usual things spread over a check tablecloth: the breads, cheeses, charcuterie, salads and fruits. The sun beaming, the shade under the crab-apples, the happy voices and smiles, the river tinkling behind and the chinking of glasses. Ghosts and shadows in the shade.

 

I worry about the new buvette selling frites and cold beers, and coffee and ice-cream. Right here in the long grass on the bank above the beach is where, in the right month, I’ve glimpsed Blue Chafer beetles, dozens of them, clambering to the end of long grasses and shining like jewels in the sun. Tiny, half the size of your smallest fingernail and glinting metallic iridescent blue. It’s July now and I’m told these only appear in June. I really hope they still come. It’s seven years now.

 

And this reminds me of the Purple Emperor (in this case Apatura ilia, which is the Lesser PE), which I saw, for the only time, on this beach here at Sauliac. This was a barely credible eleven years ago now, and also in June. The Purple Emperors butterflies are notoriously difficult to see and photograph. Their lifetime as an adult is short, a matter of weeks, and their natural habitat is high in the canopy of trees, usually oak trees where they feed on the honeydew secreted by aphids. Sometimes they come to the ground to taste the minerals in the damp sand on the river bank, and this is how I came to see them here all those years ago. How you would have laughed to see me jumping up and down excitedly to witness them. How I ran around trying to show everyone how these brown and white butterflies would turn a beautiful flash of purple when they caught the light. It was hard to catch this purple on a photograph too and everyone was highly amused to see me crawling about trying to get a shot. I was supposed to be getting lunch ready but luckily Caroline was taking care of that and I could fool around to my hearts content.

And now, I wish it was always June when I arrive here. I will never see the Purple Emperor for the first time again. Their are many things to love about the Célé.


 

 

Our gîtes at Sauliac-sur-Célé was provided by Marian and Brian at the Ancienne Granges of La Terrasses des Fargues. We had a fabulous holiday here. The canoeing and hiking part of our holiday was provided by Green River Canoes with help from Steve, Didier and our selfless driver Jean-Marc, this too, naturally, was fabulous, not withstanding the occasional accidental wild-swimming. The brochure describing the canoe trip down the Cele is here.

Winter 2017/8 Newsletter

NewLogLemonBalmCanoe100x100

Hand-crafted and Fully Guided Canoe Trips that combine the pleasures of paddling down tranquil rivers with an insight into the history and natural history of the region whilst we enjoy the local cuisine and stay in small Inns and B&Bs as we make our way gently downstream in beautiful & dramatic countryside.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

2018 Canoe Tours

Dreaming of next summer

Hello from Green River Canoes. We wish you all the best for 2018. Let’s hope you all find time to do some paddling in the coming year.

8 Day Allier Tour

We have one all new tour for this season where we canoe down the Allier river in central France tucked between the Velay and Auvergne regions. The river runs through a spectacular Basalt Gorge where you can see columns similar to Fingal’s cave and villages perched on volcanic plugs. The canoeing gives us bouncy rapids up to Class 2+ and we can do some (guided) rafting upstream too if we wish. In addition we have some splendid hikes in the valleys. This is the area where both the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago de Compostela) and the Robert Louis Stevenson trail begin. All the details are here: 8 Day Allier Tour. You can see plenty of photographs from our explorer tour here.

Self-catering & single-base Tours

In a break from our usual Inn-to-Inn style accommodation we are suggesting you may do this tour using a single-base self-catering Gîte (Villa) in order to save costs. Where possible we may be able to offer this style of accommodation on some of our other tours. It worked very well on our Célé tour last summer for example. Lots of photos here.

If you think this sort of tour would suit you better then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

GRC_Poster_Allier

6 or 8 Day Tarn Tour


Our 6 Day Tarn Tour, is in the process of being re-arranged to include a further stretch of the Tarn flowing under the famous Millau bridge and also paddling a section of the Dourbies river: a tributary of the Tarn in its own gorge. We’ve also re-arranged the accommodation to suit our new itinerary. It really is a special river, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there last summer. This can now be an 8 Day Tour. Some photos are here.


6 Day Yoga/Canoe Retreat

We have an exciting combination tour for this season which includes Yoga sessions before our day on the river. We’ve created a new version of the 6 Day Célé Tour, arranged so that we stay in the farmhouse at Sauliac all week and have a Yoga instructor on hand for our morning and late afternoon Yoga sessions. You can see all the details here.


Lascaux 4

On our 7 Day Perigord and 12 Day 3 Rivers Tours we can now visit the newly opened Lascaux 4 cave at Montignac. This is a new replica of the famous Lascaux cave which contains some of the worlds oldest cave paintings dating from 25,000 years ago. The original cave is closed to visitors as the paintings are sensitive to atmospheric changes. Previously we visited the Lascaux 2 replica (Lascaux 3 is apparently a travelling exhibition). I’m personally looking forward to seeing the new version.


8 Day Loire Tour

Last seasons new 8 Day Loire Tour went very well: we had a lot of fun on the rivers including a couple of nights wild-camping and lots of wild-swimming – not to mention the visits to innumerable Chateaux. You can see plenty of photographs from that tour here. The camping part, by the way, is not compulsory!


Build your own Kent Tour

Our tour to the garden of England (the County of Kent around Canterbury and my home patch) has been re-designed as a series of half and full days. The idea is that you can mix & match these days to make your own itinerary of 2, 3 or 4 days (or longer if you wish). The days cover canoe trips on the Stour, Medway and Rother, walks on the Pilgrims Way, the Downs, the White Cliffs of Dover, visits to castles and gardens, a city walk visiting Canterbury Cathedral and a ride on a vintage Steam Train. All is explained here.
Yoga & Canoe Poster

6 Day Yoga & Canoe Retreat

New from the 2017 season is this tour which brings Yoga sessions to one of our favourite canoeing tours on the Célé river in the Lot region of the south of France.

It is a 5 Night, 6 Day tour which combines morning and early evening yoga sessions with gentle and relaxing paddling down the beautiful Célé river.

Our instructor, Elizabeth Reed is an Inner Axis yoga teacher, focusing on breath work and non-competitive movement to increase well being, strength, flexibility and relaxation. On this tour she concentrates on general well being; specific postures relating to issues identified by individual participants and postures for warming up and preparing for paddling. It is suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.

Elizabeth is a fun and knowledgeable teacher who focuses on learning and enjoyment, with tips and techniques you can take away and use to benefit your health in a number of ways.

We will explore the little known Célé valley by both canoe and foot and visit its beautiful villages and see its wonderful wildflowers & butterflies & dragonflies. We will also visit the famous cave paintings at Pech Merle.

A fuller description of the tour with more details, including dates, prices, maps and photographs can be found on our Yoga & Canoe Retreat web page.

 

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

This is our flagship tour which I have been running since 2004. Naturally it includes some fantastic paddling with visits to iconic chateaux, castles, villages and caves. The canoe days are separated by two rest days: but we usually find plenty to do on these days too, perhaps a market visit, a long hike or a visit to a vineyard.

This summer we will be able to visit the newly opened Lascaux 4 caves at Montignac.

This truly is a once in a lifetime tour and not to be missed.

As always it will be a pleasure for me to show you around this delightful part of France.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

GRC_Poster_Loire.jpg

8 Day Loire Tour

This is a new tour which was inaugurated in 2016. The river Loire itself is broad and fairly swift, but with no rapids to speak of. The river is surprisingly empty of boats and we paddled for miles without seeing much more than the odd fisherman. We did however see plenty of wild-life including hundreds of birds of many kinds. The Loir and Creuse and Cher are smaller rivers. They are also quiet and rapid free. It makes for a serene & blissful day on the river with plenty of opportunities for exploring islands and taking a wild swim. When not canoeing we spend the time visiting the small towns along the way and visit a wide range of chateaux.

This is an 7 Night, 8 Day tour in which we canoe on the Loir, the Loire (for 3 days), 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 Chateaux and experience its cuisine and wines.

In particular we will canoe through the Chateau Chenonceaux, picnic on islands and enjoy a wild swim, if it’s warm enough, visit the Chateau where Leonardo Da Vinci lived, and as many other chateaux as we have the time for. We also visit the Parc Naturel Regional la Brenne.

Full tour details are here. The recently updated and downloadable brochure is here. Lots of photographs from our first tour can be seen here.

 

Picnics

Sometimes the best part of the day is the picnic stop. Usually on the river bank and sometimes on an island. Always time for a leisurely lunch, a crisp cold Rose or beer and then perhaps a snooze under a hot sun.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

In France we have tours going out to the rivers of the Ardeche/Gard region, the Tarn region, the Loire region as well as our flagship tours to the Perigord/Dordogne and Lot regions. And not forgetting our new tour to the Allier river in central France.

We also take a tour to the Belgium Ardennes, where we paddle on three rivers, and we have a short tour in the south of England too.

Over in the USA we run a tour on 5 rivers in the state of Vermont.

Our tour dates for the 2018 have been decided, but please remember if you are a group of 4 or more, you may choose your own dates, and play with the itinerary. We are always happy to adjust start & finish dates to suit you and your incoming/outgoing travel arrangements.

All the details of all our tours here. You can read about our previous tours here. And finally you can download our brochures here.

 

GRC_2015NewsletterFooter

Yoga & Canoe Poster

6 Day Yoga & Canoe Retreat

 

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Spectacular cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

Combined Yoga & Canoeing Vacation

New for the 2017 season we are introducing this tour which brings Yoga sessions to one of our favourite canoeing tours on the Célé river in the Lot region of the south of France.

It is a 5 Night, 6 Day tour which combines morning and early evening yoga sessions with gentle and relaxing paddling down the beautiful Célé river.

Our instructor, Elizabeth Reed is an Inner Axis yoga teacher, focusing on breath work and non-competitive movement to increase well being, strength, flexibility and relaxation. On this tour she concentrates on general well being; specific postures relating to issues identified by individual participants and postures for warming up and preparing for paddling. It is suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.

Elizabeth is a fun and knowledgeable teacher who focuses on learning and enjoyment, with tips and techniques you can take away and use to benefit your health in a number of ways.

We will explore the little known Célé valley by both canoe and foot and visit its beautiful villages and see its wonderful wildflowers & butterflies & dragonflies. We will also visit the famous cave paintings at Pech Merle.

A brief description of the tour is given below but more details, including dates, prices, maps and photographs can be found on our Yoga & Canoe Retreat web page.

Riverside Yoga Position

A Riverside Yoga Position

Benefits of Inner Axis

In physical terms Inner Axis Yoga has positive effects on back ache, stiffness, blood pressure, diabetes,  and balance. It can further aid the digestive system, and your strength, flexibility, posture and gait. The concentration on controlled breathing aids asthma and other breathing related difficulties. In general it helps towards a leaner and more toned body.

From a mental and emotional point of view Inner Axis Yoga provides a calmer mind, with less anxiety, which is more resilient to stress and life issues. It overcomes a depressive and negative mind set which contributes towards better sleep and gives an improved ability to relax and focus. This in turn instills greater personal confidence.

In social and spiritual terms Inner Axis Yoga builds community spirit, dispels resentments and old patterns which prevent happiness, promotes being your best self in relationship to yourself and others, and fosters gratitude & enjoyment of life.

Lot, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The Abbey in the village of St. Cirq Lapopie, Lot, France

Features of Inner Axis

Inner Axis is jargon free, taught in simple, clear and concise language and does not use Sanskrit terms.

Inner Axis teaches a variety of breathing exercises and correct breathing techniques, which are scientifically recognised to have a hugely beneficial impact on health and well being.

Inner Axis uses slow and safe yoga movements that are adaptable to your physical needs and condition whatever your age or your level of fitness. It uses props such as blocks, straps, bolsters etc to facilitate faster development.

The focus of Inner Axis is on healthy alignment and the explanation & reasoning behind the methods used.

Inner Axis uses mindfulness and inspiring visualisations.

Inner Axis is non-competitive and fosters an attitude of kindness to yourself and others.

Inner Axis is for everyone who desires inner health as well as physical health, no matter what religion or ideological beliefs they may hold.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Tour Includes

  • A Trail & River Guide whilst on the river & trail
  • A Fully Trained Yoga instructor
  • Full minibus support throughout, to transport us to & from the river and transfers to and from our departure point (local Railway Station or Local airport).
  • Includes all accommodation in a local farmhouse
  • Includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
  • All necessary equipment for Canoeing the remote valley and stream of the Cele
  • An opportunity to hike along the route of the Way of St. James
  • Join your guides for a pre-breakfast walk
  • Visit the ancient cave paintings at Pech Merle
  • See the beautiful villages of Marcilhac, Espignac, Cabrerets and St. Cirq Lapopie
Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Family fun on the Célé river, Lot France

Tour Description

Everyday of the tour will be book-ended by a yoga session. The friends of the Célé organisation have arranged that the river is set aside for fishing before 11am and for canoeing thereafter. We will use these morning hours for our Yoga sessions, often by the riverside, and for short walks.

Yoga and canoeing through the gentle waters of the Célé are the perfect companions to bring the mind into the body, to refine our awareness and deepen mindfulness. This tour teaches you techniques that can be practiced and used in the hurly-burly of our everyday lives.

After our day on the river we will have time for another yoga session, or you may relax if you prefer. Our accommodation has a small swimming-pool but we can also wild-swim if we wish too. Evening strolls are also possible.

When we are on the river or trail 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, or indeed if you have never paddled before.

The rivers are easy paddling and suitable for inexperienced paddlers. The emphasis on this trip is to enjoy the rich history and natural history of the region from the unique viewpoint of the river.

Cave paintings at Pech Merle, at Cabrerets on the Cele river, Lot, France

Cave paintings at Pech Merle, at Cabrerets on the Cele river, Lot, France

We shall enjoy lazy days meandering down the river and take our time to enjoy all that we see along the way and taking the time to visit many of them as we go. We will certainly visit the world famous caves at Pech Merle and see the ancient cave paintings.

Everyday we will stop for a fabulous picnic lunch and in the evenings we will enjoy a home-made dinner in the farmhouse where we are staying. We will take dinner out one evening too.

The Célé is a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. On the way it passes through several small and picturesque villages such as Espignac, Marciilhac, Sauliac and Cabrerets.

Along the same valley a long-distance trail winds its way. Sometimes besides the river but mostly up high along the valley’s edge. This is the GR651 which is a small deviation off the famous GR65 more commonly known as the ‘Way of St. James’ or the ‘Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle’.

In an adjacent valley flows the Lot river with the famous cliff-hanging village of St. Cirq Lapopie.

We will explore the dramatic scenery as the river winds its way through a deep limestone valley stopping at pretty villages along the way. We will watch the birds along the riverbank: herons, kingfishers, wagtails, dippers and various hawks and admire the glittering colourful damselflies and dragonflies.

For those so inclined we will have a pre-breakfast walk and before we start canoeing each day we will have our yoga session. If we have the time and inclination we will also explore the trails along the causse above the valley and find dolmens left by ancient man. We will see plenty of colourful butterflies in the meadows and in the season plenty of wildflowers too, including some exotic orchids, like the Lizard and Bee Orchids.

The Célé valley is a quiet and largely undiscovered small valley and we shall probably have the river all to ourselves. If it is warm enough we can find some beautiful spots for wild swimming.

Our evenings will be spent discussing our day over a family style evening meal with plenty of opportunity to make the conversation flow.

Yoga & Canoe Poster

Autumn 2016 Newsletter

NewLogLemonBalmCanoe100x100

Hand-crafted and Fully Guided Canoe Trips that combine the pleasures of paddling down tranquil rivers with an insight into the history and natural history of the region whilst we enjoy the local cuisine and stay in small Inns and B&Bs as we make our way gently downstream in beautiful & dramatic countryside.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2014

Autumn Canoeing

On the Vézère, the Dordogne and the Célé rivers in France

You still have time to enjoy a late holiday break to the South of France with us. September & October are great months for paddling, and of course these are wonderful places to canoe in the Autumn.

It is still warm: very often it is still warm enough to swim in the rivers. We have the  7 Days in the Perigord and the 6 Days on the Cele trip. Or you can push both trips together for our 12 Days 3 Rivers tour. The rivers are quiet: we are often the only people on the river, and of course the châteaux and castles and restaurants and wines are as fabulous as ever.

The tours include visiting the 25,000 year old cave paintings in these regions at Lascaux & Pech Merle, and we can fit in visits to other caves if we wish: Castel Merle, Rouffignac and Font de Gaume for example.

The number of châteaux we canoe past is almost too numerous to mention: the Losse, Belcayre and Clérans on the Vézère, the castles at Montfort, Castelnaud and Beynac as well as the châteaux of Marqueyssac, Fayrac and Milandes on the Dordogne and also the Devil’s Castle and the Chateau Cabrerets on the Célé.

We also visit and stay in numerous pretty villages – Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – which include Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Beynac-et-Cazenac, La Roque-Gageac and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. With a little bit of effort we can also visit Domme, Cardaillac and Saint-Amand-de-Coly. These are all tiny country villages in stunning settings. We will also visit the regional town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, preferably on market day.

But, of course, rivers are our main focus and the scenery and wildlife are just as stunning in this season and we will have the bonus of autumn colours.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Admiring the cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

6 Day Célé Tour

A 5 Night, 6 Day tour in which  we spend three days paddling the Célé river and a day hiking a section of the Way of St. James. We also visit the cave paintings at Pech Merle. An extra day can be added if we wish to paddle on the Lot river for a day or we can swap the hike day for a paddle day.

On this tour we will stay in a farmhouse above the Célé for the whole tour. This will save us packing & moving on every night. Every day is but a short drive to the river. Not even 20 minutes drive. Our host Richard & Helen will prepare lovely home-made meals for us and we will enjoy the conviviality of their home.

We will rendezvous with our canoes on the first day and then keep them for the three days it will take us to paddle down to the confluence of the Lot river. We will picnic along the way for lunch and stop at the pretty villages along the route. We will also have ample time for little walks & hikes here & there.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

7 Day Perigord Tour

A 6 Night, 7 Day tour in which we canoe down the Vézère & Dordogne rivers with visits to caves to see 25,000 year-old paintings, troglodyte dwellings along the river, huge castles and beautiful chateaux.

On this tour we spend two days paddling down the Vézère river and 3 days paddling down the Dordogne river.

The Vézère valley is famous for being the ‘valley of man’. Almost 200 sites of Neanderthal and CroMagnon antiquity have been found here. We will see and explore some of them, including the renowned Painted Caves at Lascaux. But the Vézère is also beautiful for other reasons, including fabulous chateaux, stunning scenery and wildlife.

The Dordogne river is  famous for its more recent history, the 11th and 12th Century for example, which are represented by the huge castles we shall pass, which are reminders of the 100 Years War between France & England. We shall paddle past these as well as numerous smaller chateaux  built for more peaceful times. We shall have plenty of time for visiting some of these as well as the stunning villages along the way.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

An 11 Night, 12 Day tour in which we canoe down the Vézère, the Célé & Dordogne rivers by combining the 6 and 7 Day tours above.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

GRC_2015NewsletterFooter

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

Guest Blog: Day 4: Célé: Stream & Weirs

A day on the Célé: Espagnac & Marcilhac

a6 So peaceful...

Starting off on the Célé river from St. Eulalie

We awake to sunny skies – so nice!  After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we are off on a 20 minute drive to our next river adventure – the Célé.  This river is actually a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. It is a place that few tourists visit and we do have the river to ourselves.  Our paddle today is from St. Eulalie to Marchilhac.  We put in and only go a short distance before stopping in the village of Espagnac to check out the beautiful flowers that are blooming and some ancient ruins of an old monastery.  The bearded iris and roses are just beautiful.

b13 Beautiful!

Flowers and steps at St. Eulalie Espagnac

Back on the river and we are in for some adventures.  The Célé is very narrow and is running fast.  My long ago learned canoe skills are being tested!  We do have to navigate three weirs along the river – rock areas that sometimes have to be portaged around.

b15 I am paddling with Annie

Annie leads the way on the Célé

The first one we ran right over without a problem – it was a little like running a very short rapid.  Next we had to come down a roller area to the side of the weir – we made it fine but Paul and Patty got somewhat hung up – must be all the great French food!  The last one was just a log and we went right over that.  Guess we are lucky that the river is running so high!

c20 Patty & Paul negotiating one of the weirs on this river

Patty & Paul negotiating one of the weirs on the Célé river

The scenery along the river was stunning – green colors everywhere with tree branches hanging over the river, herons flying ahead of us from one place to another, wag tail birds flitting about and cuckoos singing high in the trees.  We had planned to stop at a small café in town on the way to the farm where we are staying for a beer, but it was closed.

c29 Another view

La Métairie Basse: our lodgings for two nights

We finally wound our way up the hill to where we will stay for the next two nights.  It is a wonderful farmhouse in the middle of the countryside and we will be eating all our meals here, prepared by our hosts Helen and Richard.  This place (originally built in 1809) was converted 15 years ago from a complete ruin into a B & B – something you would see the likes of on an episode of International House Hunters on HGTV!  This couple came from England in search of a better life and are soon getting ready to retire.

d35 Our dinner - salmon in pastry puff - yum!!

Richard bakes a Salmon en Croûte for dinner

Richard cooked a delicious salmon in pastry main course, plus we had an aperitif, appetizer, green beans, various cheeses and a banana pudding for dessert.  Time for bed so we can go for the 6:30am hike!

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

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