Tag Archives: Paddle

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.


8 Day Loire Canoe Tour


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.

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

How to Paddle in a Tandem Canoe

Tandem Canoeing.

Though solo canoeing is always an option, nothing moves a canoe better than a well-matched tandem team. The trick is good communication and knowing your job. Here are a few tips to get you started.

The bow is for power.

If you’re sitting in the front you provide forward momentum and correction strokes when the boat wanders. You set the stroke cadence with a steady rhythm and are the lookout, identifying obstacles and making course corrections. The draw is a bow paddler’s key correction stroke. Instead of using the paddle to push the canoe forward, you’re using it to pull—or draw—the bow toward the paddle, thereby changing the boat’s direction. It’s great for avoiding rocks.

The trick is to reach well out of the boat, plant the blade firmly, and then pull the paddle shaft toward the canoe. To practice the cross-bow draw, simply swing your torso to plant the paddle on the “off” side, without switching hand positions (one on the top of the handle, one halfway up the shaft), and draw the canoe in the opposite direction.

The stern is for control.

If you’re sitting in the stern, or the rear, paddle in sync with your bow partner with your paddle on the opposite side of the canoe. Identify and steer the general course, sighting on a distant point or open downriver channel. You also complement the corrections made in the bow. Paddling a tandem canoe is like dancing. Talk to each other. Forgive each other.

Again, the draw is a key correction stroke, but since the stern paddler can’t efficiently draw on the “off” side, you’ll want to use the pry instead. Trail the paddle behind your hip, turning the blade parallel to the hull (like a rudder). Lever the blade emphatically away from the canoe to change the boat’s direction. Finally, because the canoe seats are set asymmetrically, the stern paddler overpowers the bow and has to correct every few strokes with a brief rudder, or J-stroke. After roughly every third forward stroke, pivot the paddle into rudder position and give a short flick (not as dramatic as the pry).

Stay stable.

In waves or white-water, drop from a seated position directly to your knees if things feel dicey. This lowers your centre of gravity and puts you in the most secure stance. Second, take a stroke, any stroke. Get that paddle in the water. It will act as an outrigger or brace.

Paddle smarter, not harder.

“Ramming speed” is the default strategy of neophytes. More often than not, paddling harder only makes bad things happen faster and more dramatically. Instead, back-paddle gently through standing waves to keep from swamping, and to slow the action as you read your way through moving water.

When in doubt, stop and scout.

The canoe world is full of scary and embarrassing stories about rapids not scouted. When you see something coming up that looks iffy—a funny break in the river horizon line, a downed tree, an unclear route—overcome the aversion to stopping. It’s always worth taking a look and staying safe.


Original article by Alan Kesselheim

6 Days in the Tarn


Paddle the Tarn Gorge and hike the Causse

This is an 5 Night, 6 Day trip in which we canoe on the Tarn in the Tarn region of south-east France. We explore the Gorges and Mountains of both the Tarn and the Cevennes regions and visit some beautiful villages and hike some stunning trails.

The Tarn is a river which flows westwards towards the Atlantic through a dramatic limestone gorge and is famously known for its beautifully clear and green waters. The first two days on this river provide easy paddling whilst the third day provides more excitement with some rapids to contend with.

We shall also walk through the peculiar region called the ‘Chaos of Montpelier’, which has been eroded into many curious geological shapes.

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

Full trip details are here. Brochure here.

These are our scheduled dates for this season, but if you are a group of 4 or more you can choose your own dates and we will do our best to fit you in.


Here are some images from the tour.

Inn to Inn Guided Canoe Trips in France and Belgium


6 Day Tarn Trip, France

At St-Chely-du-Tarn, Tarn, France

At St-Chely-du-Tarn, Tarn, France

Trip Summary

This is an 5 Night, 6 Day trip in which we canoe on the Tarn in the Tarn region of south-east France. We explore the Gorges and Mountains of both the Tarn and the Cevennes regions and visit some beautiful villages and hike some stunning trails.

A fully illustrated (with photos and maps) version of this description is on our main web site.

This trip is scheduled for the 1st to the 6th June 2015.

This trip is an Explorer and has a 10% reduction to 1755 Euros per person.

However if you are a group of between 4 and 14 then feel free to choose your own dates and we will do our very best to arrange it.

Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request.

The trip meets & departs from Montpelier TGV Railway station at about midday or at close regional airports by  arrangement.

The trip:

  • is fully Guided whilst on the river & trail

  • has full minibus support throughout

  • Includes all accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels

  • Includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals

  • has a hike through the Hoodoos of the Chaos Montpelier

  • you may Join your guides for a pre-breakfast walk

  • we will be paddling the beautifully clear Tarn river

  • and we will hike the high causse in the Cevennes Mountains

Tarn River and Gorge, France

On the beautiful green waters of the Tarn ruver

Trip Description

The Tarn is a river which flows westwards towards the Atlantic through a dramatic limestone gorge and is famously known for its beautifully clear and green waters. The first two days on this river provide easy paddling whilst the third day provides more excitement with some rapids to contend with.

We shall also walk through the peculiar region called the ‘Chaos of Montpelier’, which has been eroded into many curious geological shapes.

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

From the bridge at St. Enimie in the Tarn Gorge, France

From the bridge at St. Enimie in the Tarn Gorge, France

Day to Day Schedule

Day 1. Arrival and Greetings

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

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

The drive to St. Chely takes about  2 hours and 30 minutes. We will stop on the way for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. We will stay in the Auberge de la Cascade in this lovely village.

Day 2. The first day in the Tarn Gorge

After a short drive to Montbrun we will begin our first day on the beautiful Tarn river. We will paddle all the way back to St. Chely-du-Tarn, making sure that we stop for a look around the lovely village of St. Enimie. This is an absolutely stunning river to paddle. The river is crystal clear and runs in a fabulously deep gorge in remote country-side.

Tonight we will stay again in the  Auberge de la Cascade in the outstandingly beautiful village of St. Chely-du-Tarn. We will be able to walk up from the river beach to our hotel.

Canoeing on the Tarn between St. Enimie and La Malene, Tarn, France

Canoeing on the Tarn between St. Enimie and La Malene, Tarn, France

Day 3. The Second Day on the Tarn

After a leisurely breakfast we stroll down to the beach underneath the bridge in the village and prepare for another beautiful days canoeing on the Tarn. This section is just as beautiful as yesterday and we will pass some lovely spots including the village of Hauterives, an isolated village only reachable by river and the delightful village of La Malene. The river squeezes through the famous Detroits (narrows) on our way to Les Baumes Basse where we finish for the day.

We are again staying at the Auberge de la Cascade.

St. Chely-du-Tarn, Tarn, France

St. Chely-du-Tarn, Tarn, France

Day 4. The Final Day on the Tarn

A short drive will take us down-river to where we will begin our final day on the Tarn. We will canoe from Les Vignes to Le Rozier along a section of river which is just as dramatic visually as the first two days but a little more bumpy. We will have to concentrate as we ride the Class 2 and 3 rapids as we admire the gorge scenery around us.

Once again we will be able to walk to our hotel which is the Doussier.

Chaos de Montpellier le Vieux, Tarn, France

Chaos de Montpellier le Vieux, Tarn, France

Day 5. A Hike on the Chaos de Montpelier

A 35 minute drive we see us arrive at the small village of La Roque St. Marguerite where we will begin our hike up to the Chaos de Montpelier a truly strange outcrop of rocks which have been eroded into exotic shapes. In the USA these shapes are known as Hoodoos. We will spend several hours wandering numerous trails around this area and experience the fabulous views over the plateau and the gorge.

A short drive will return us to our hotel in Le Rozier..

Day 6. Departure and Farewells

When we have breakfasted and have packed and ready we will drive to the TGV station at Montpelier for our return to Paris and beyond. The drive is about 1 hour and 40 minutes


The Auberge de Cascade at St. Chely-du-Tarn

The Auberge de Cascade at St. Chely-du-Tarn

Auberge de la Cascade

For the first and second nights we are at the Auberge de la Cascade in St. Chely-du-Tarn. The hotel comprises almost the whole of this tiny village which sits besides the Tarn over a narrow bridge barred to most traffic.

The early morning walk around the village will reveal a tiny chapel underneath the cliffs as well as a small church.

The hotel has a small pool for our use and we shall dine in its lovely restaurant overlooking the square.

Hotel Doussier at Les Rozier

Hotel Doussier at Les Rozier

Hotel Doussière

For the last three nights we stay at the Hotel Doussière in Le Rozier. The hotel is next to the River Jonte, which joins the Tarn, and has terraces overlooking the river where we shall dine in the evening.

A walk around the village in the evening is well worth the effort, as it sits at the junction of two dramatic valleys.

Canoeing on the Tarn between St. Enimie and La Malene, Tarn, France

Canoeing on the Tarn between St. Enimie and La Malene, Tarn, France