Tag Archives: France

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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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

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.

 

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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

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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.

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Guest Blog: Day 9: Lascaux and farewells

A visit to the Pre-Historic paintings at Lascaux

Our last breakfast together at the Hotel de Chateau in Beynac – everyone is a bit tired and sad that our paddling and exploring with Steve and “George” is over…..  The van is packed and we are off to the Lascaux Caves II, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  These are the world’s most visited painted caves.  The caves were discovered by 2 boys in 1940 and were closed to the public in 1963 due to the fact that the original cave paintings were being harmed by the public.

Lascaux3

Cave Painting at Lascaux II

Cro-Magnon Man created these most amazing paintings of deer, cows, horses and stags, along with various symbols (it is still not known what they represent) 17,000 years ago.  It was important to salvage this unique piece of history so in the 70s, specialists set out to recreate the original cave paintings down to within a centimeter and a new cave was opened 200 meters away from the original cave in 1983.  Our tour started out in French, but then we were able to join an English speaking tour that was right behind us.  It was so much more meaningful for us to have the English guide explain about the animals, how they were painted, how the artist showed that the animal might be running and how animals were superimposed on others.  The colors of red, yellow and black were vibrant and the guide said that in the original cave they were even more vibrant as the humidity in there is about 98% and preserves the colors well.

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Cave Painting at Lascaux II

We are off to Brive and the train station.  Patty & Paul will pick up their car here to continue their travels in the Loire Valley and then on another OAT river cruise.  Annie, Marlee and I board the train back to Paris where we will then catch a taxi to the airport Best Western.  Our train experience was a real adventure.  Apparently the coach that we were supposed to be in was not at the end of the train as planned – so we could never find our seats!  Not speaking the language was a real problem as we did not know what was going on.  We chose any seat and at the next stop we got kicked out of those seats!  Finally moving ahead 6 cars dragging all our luggage through a moving train, we found seats – and were able to complete the journey in those!  Arrived safely at the Best Western 10 minutes from Charles de Gaulle airport.  Tomorrow ends our wonderful adventure here in France – I have a 10:30 AM flight to catch back to the US where I know that Marc & Abby are anxiously awaiting my return!

Steve House of Green River Canoes Ltd and Steve Lines have been wonderful to us – driving us safely everywhere, providing the canoes they rented from various French companies along the rivers, setting up all the lodging and restaurant reservations – but mainly providing us with humor, and a wealth of information.  These guys have known each other since their late teens and early 20s – they played in a band together in England where they were originally were from.  Steve Lines still lives in the southeast part of England and Steve House, co-owner of the company, lives in Antwerp, Belgium.  We so enjoyed their banter with one another and all the funny English sayings that we were privy too.  It was truly a special experience!

Thank you for joining me on this journey to the beautiful country of France – land of beautiful rivers, bustling towns, small quaint flower filled villages and history dating back many thousands of years.

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

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