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Self-Catering, Single-Centre Tours

Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Tours

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

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

Self-Catering, Single-Centre Tours

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

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

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

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

Practical Considerations

Q: where do the guides stay?

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

Q: who does the cooking?

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

Q: do we have to self-cater every night

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

Q: who does the shopping?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: what about lunches

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

Q: what about the length of the tour?

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

Q: which tours are suitable for this kind of accommodation

A: we think the following tours would work:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Any Further Questions?

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

 

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

8 Day Allier River Tour

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

  • Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail

  • Full minibus support throughout

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

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

  • Join your guides for a pre-breakfast walk

  • optional all day hikes

  • visits to local historic villages & towns

Tour Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will visit the villages and chateaux along the way.

Day to Day description

Day 1. Arrival and first meeting.

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

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

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

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

Day 2. Today we will explore where we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3. Our first day on the river.

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

Day 4. Continuing down the Allier river.

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

 

Day 5. Rafting and paddling

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

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

Day 6. A day off the river

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

Day 7. A final day on the Allier river

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

 

Day 8. Time to leave

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

Accommodation

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

 

From our accommodation above the Allier At Lavoute-Chilhac

From our accommodation above the Allier At Lavoute-Chilhac

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

More Details

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

8 Day Loire Canoe Tour

Chateau_de_Chenonceau_Ra-smit

Château de Chenonceaux by Ra Smit

Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Tour

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

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

The tour includes:

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

Château de Chambord by Arnold Scherer

Tour description

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

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

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

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

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

A 6 Day version of this Tour is available too.

Château de Châteaudun by Patrick Giraud

Château de Châteaudun by Patrick Giraud

Day to Day Schedule

Day 1. Arrival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2. A paddle on the Loir

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

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

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

Steve and Coral paddling on the River Loire, France

Steve and Coral paddling on the River Loire, France

Day 3. First day on the Loire.

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

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

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

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

Steve and Coral on the Loire, France

Steve and Coral on the Loire, France

Day 4. Second day on the Loire

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

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

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

Château de Clos Lucé by Nadègevillain

Château de Clos Lucé by Nadègevillain

Day 5. Third day on the Loire

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

More exploring of islands and such!

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

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

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

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

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

Day 6. A canoe on La Creuse

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

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

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

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

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

Day 7. A paddle on the Cher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 8. Departure and Farewells

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

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

Château de Blois by Tango1774

Château de Blois by Tango1774

Winter 2017/8 Newsletter

NewLogLemonBalmCanoe100x100

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

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

2018 Canoe Tours

Dreaming of next summer

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

8 Day Allier Tour

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

Self-catering & single-base Tours

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

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

GRC_Poster_Allier

6 or 8 Day Tarn Tour


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


6 Day Yoga/Canoe Retreat

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


Lascaux 4

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


8 Day Loire Tour

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


Build your own Kent Tour

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

6 Day Yoga & Canoe Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

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

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

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

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

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

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

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

GRC_Poster_Loire.jpg

8 Day Loire Tour

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

This is an 7 Night, 8 Day tour in which we canoe on the Loir, the Loire (for 3 days), the Creuse and the Cher in the Loire region of central France.

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

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

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

 

Picnics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GRC_2015NewsletterFooter

Autumn 2016 Newsletter

NewLogLemonBalmCanoe100x100

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

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

Autumn Canoeing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Admiring the cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

6 Day Célé Tour

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

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

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

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

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

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

7 Day Perigord Tour

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

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

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

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

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

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

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

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Guest Blog: Day 3: A Paddle to Les Eyzies

Vézère Day 2: Troglodytes and Chapels

Another foggy and drizzly day to start – but then we lucked out and the sun peeked out every now and then in the afternoon!  We have to leave our wonderful host Roland this morning. After some interrogation he reveals he was born and brought up in Hong Kong but is of German descent.  His mother is here from Germany for a while and we see her working in the gardens.

We breakfast, pack the van and we are off for the canoe put-in spot right here in this little village where we stayed. We will paddle from St. Leon to Les Ezyies – a long day of paddling, but not hard at all.

a7 Our last day on the Vezere

Our second and last day on the Vézère

We stopped mid-morning at the La Roque St. Christophe (a city built into the side of the cliff where Cro-Magnon man lived and others followed up until the 1500’s).    It was fascinating to walk along this cliff and see all the makings of a real village built into the walls – safes (assumedly to keep the trading beads in?), slaughter, drying and curing areas, places for weapons, the kitchen, a church, the scaffolding that they built and a huge wheel powered by a man walking through it which helped raise rocks etc. in the rock quarry!    This village was part of a large communications set-up among villages all along the Vézère River – it took 6 minutes for the bugle sound to reach this village from the next nearest!  It was interesting just how much high tech knowledge these early people had!

g67 Our picnic lunch - in the sun!

Our picnic lunch – in the sun!

We floated and paddled, had our picnic on the banks of the river (different types of meats and cheeses, French breads, wonderful hot Dijon mustard, salad (with fresh radishes George bought for me!), Céléry salad, fruit and of course, dark chocolate!!

We passed by many more cliff dwellings and some houses used in present day that are built into the cliff walls.  We all rafted together down the river at one point and it was quite pleasant!

g69 That is more like it!!

Annie & Steve start sprinting. That is more like it!

b11 Interesting rock with holes

Interesting rock with holes

b12b Made it out!

Steve and Cheryl taking it easy

g60 Another building in the rocks

La Madeleine: a prehistoric rock shelter with a troglodyte 11th century Chapel & Castle

Tonight we dine in this cute little village of Les Eyzies – our hotel is right in the heart of the village and very cute – I have had the windows opened wide and watched the people in the square below me.

After we had a walk around the village which is only one block long, nestled in between the cliffs where more houses are built and the Vézère River. This town is in the middle of duck country – there are stores everywhere that sell Foie gras – would love to bring some home but was stopped at customs the last time I tried that!   Dinner was another gastronomic event with lots of wine, great food and conversation and certainly lots of laughs – fell into bed at 10:30pm!

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

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

Guest Blog: Day 2: Vézère: Chateaux and Locks

On the Vézère with Chateaux and Locks

Another cool and overcast day with rain forecast at midday – but it will be our first day on the river – yea!  Some went for a walk with Steve at 6:30 but I opted out this morning – spent some time in the lounge checking e-mail as that is the only place I can get wi-fi.  I was not up for getting up at 6am! Breakfast was at 8am – typical European breakfast with cold cuts, cheese, cereal, yogurt, croissants, coffee and juice.  We were ready to leave the inn at 9:15am.

a1 Our inn

Our inn: the Relais de la Côte de Jor, St. Leon-sur-Vézère

After stowing dry bags and such in the van, Steve, Marlee, Ann and I took a path down to the village where we meet the canoes – about a 40 min walk.  Beautiful stone walls, summer houses awaiting their occupants, wildflowers, rows of walnut trees just starting to leaf out, white horses who came running to greet us – all part of the experience.  We gather paddles, life jackets and then follow the trailer with the canoes to the put-in spot.
From here we walked up to the town of Montignac where we grab coffee, or an éclair while the “Steves” do some errands.  Finally around 11:30 we are finally on the Vézère River!

c20 Finally - what we came here to do!!

Getting ready at Montignac on the Vézère river

I am paddling with Steve in the stern – I am lucky!  He is a wealth of information as we paddle the quiet river, sometimes with a few ripples, past verdant river banks, 10th century chateaux sitting high above us with ivy hanging down from the cliffs, waterfalls flowing rapidly, waddle tail birds, sandpipers, gray herons and 3 ancient 18th century locks that kept the river traffic running when there were dams on this river until the railways were built.

Steve (aka George – nicknamed by me as he called me Patty in the beginning of the trip!) prepared a delicious picnic lunch for us along the banks of the river – it was fun despite a light rain falling.  Here we also explored the sleepy little village of Sergeac, so quaint and lovely with blooming gardens and cozy looking French homes made of limestone.

c24 Cheryl paddles with Steve

Cheryl paddles with Steve

d30 Steve & I approach a small waterfall

Steve & I approach a small waterfall

Another 30 minute paddle in the rain brought us back to our village of St. Leon where we took out and climbed in the van for another adventure.

 

e41 One last look

One last look at the Chateau du Losse on the Vezere river

We stopped at the Rouffignac Caves – only 10 million years old!  These caves are all natural as they were found and contain so many interesting features.  We take a little train through the corridors of the cave with a guide speaking in French and occasionally in English for the 5 of us.  The further and further that we got into the caves, the more interesting it became.  20,000 years ago, bears inhabited these caves and made huge crater-like depressions in the floor rocks as they hibernated.  They also made many scratchings on the rock walls as when they awoke, they needed to trim their nails!

Deeper into the cave it became apparent that man had also inhabited this area – but 14,000 years ago.  There were many etchings on the walls of hippos, bison, woolly mammoth, big horn sheep, horses etc. In some places there was even some graffiti on the ceilings – these were done by “modern” visitors who were not aware of the prehistoric drawings further on in the caves. Some of the animal etchings were superimposed to make it seem like the animals were running and some were even pregnant.  It was hard to imagine in some of the areas where men had to actually lie on their backs due to the low ceiling to make these etchings. It was quite mind boggling to see these ancient etchings of another civilization!

g65 Toasting with pastis!

Toasting with pastis!

Back to our inn, time for a shower and then we are off to dinner at 7:20.  We ate in town again – a 5 minute drive by van.  My duck confit was absolutely delicious and we had laugh after laugh after laugh – a great group and great guides!  Per Steve 2 or “George”, we are going through the group dynamics of “Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing” – he was a psychiatric nurse at one time and has done much psychiatric counseling – guess we all need that!!  Ha! Ha! But whatever it is, the group is certainly working and we are having a great time and a lot of laughs!

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

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