Join us for a tranquil Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe tour to the south of France.
We paddle relaxing rivers through beautiful country-side suitable for families and those of a certain age who still remain active.
Some tours have small rapids which are short and sweet and can be easily viewed, assessed and portaged if necessary.
These tours are not for those seeking difficult white-water rapids or for those wishing to canoe long-distances.
Each tour is fully described with a complete daily schedule, a map, photographs and details of our Inns or B&Bs.
All our tours are fully guided. You will be accompanied on the river and trail by an experienced guide who knows the area and the rivers well. The second guide will accompany us in the background by driving our vehicle between lodgings and will be transferring our luggage, meeting us for lunch and generally being available as and when required.
We stay in small and comfortable local Hotels, Chambre D'Hotes and B&Bs, which are often family run.
The tour prices include all transfers, canoe hire (and equipment), accommodation (with breakfasts) all lunches and all evening meals.
Small tours have a maximum group size of 9 people. That is 7 guests and 2 guides. Medium groups of up to 17 consist of 14 guests and 3 guides (2 of which are on the river). Larger groups can be accommodated by arrangement.
The rivers we paddle on these tours are rated as easy to medium: in the usual classification system this is no harder than Class II+. That is small and straightforward rapids from time-to-time, but mostly flat, green water. It is very suitable for novice canoers and children. Many tours have no rapids at all.
At most we shall paddle 12 miles in a day which will take approximately 5 hours. Generally we will canoe less than this distance and we will take a lunch break, and stop whenever we wish. As long as you are reasonably fit then the paddling should provide few problems. Remember we are canoeing downstream and letting the river do most of the work.
Everyday will will review the safety procedures for the water and we will provide paddling instruction for those that are novices and a revision for the more experienced. New paddlers need have no fear that we will leave them behind. The canoeing we do is not about racing down the river: it is about enjoying the environment and our surroundings. It is about enjoying ourselves.
The tours also include some walking and hiking. We try to avoid sitting in the small bus as much as possible! Again, as long as you are reasonably fit then these walks should provide no problem. In any case the walks are optional and you will always be offered a ride instead if you wish.
April, May and June are beautiful times of year to visit the south of France The weather is almost always warm and sometimes as hot as high summer, although it is slightly more changeable so the chance of rain is slightly higher. It is very rare and unfortunate for a holiday to be ruined by rain in these months, although spring showers may occur.
In the spring in May and early June, the days are warm, but not hot, and the evenings are long.
It is a perfect time for walking and canoeing in the Dordogne, since the high summer can be rather hot for these activities. It is also the perfect time to visit the towns and villages that can get especially busy in the mid summer.
In the spring, especially, the countryside is more lush and the scenery even more beautiful, since the daylight is slightly less harsh than in the summer. The meadows are high with spring flowers and orchids may be seen in the hedgerows and verges. The early butterflies will be on the wing such as Marbled Whites and assorted Blues.
Along the river bank and woods we will see the flowering trees of False Acacia and Sweet Chestnut.
The summer months of July and August are, of course, the most popular times to visit the Dordogne and the Ardèche.
The weather is usually very good - temperatures are typically around 25-30 degrees, and rain is unusual although evening storms are quite common.
Across the Dordogne/Perigord region restaurants and attractions are all open and active, and many special events take place during these months including fairs, fêtes, outdoor concerts and films.
Many of the Dordogne towns and villages have an evening market once a week. Tables and chairs are set out in the village square and local producers will sell you everything you need for a highly enjoyable meal al-fresco.
In the summer months of late June and July the days are warmer and the evenings are still long. It may be hot enough to warrant a cooling swim in the river.
On the rivers themselves we will see ducklings and cygnets as well as a host of dragonflies and damselflies. The summer butterflies will also be on the wing and we may see Purple Emperors and Cleopatras. We will definitely see Swallowtails and we may even observe puddling where clouds of butterflies collect on the damp sand on the river bank.
In the early autumn days of September the days are still warm though the evenings are drawing in. We will see many fruits on the trees in the wild, such as Medlars, Crab-Apples, Quince and Guelder Rose. The dragons and damsels are still flying along with late butterflies.
By late autumn in October the days are a little cooler and the colours are beginning to show in the leaves of the trees. The evenings are well drawn in now.
Haha we don't actually do any canoe touring in the winter season.
I'm not saying canoeing in the winter-time is not great, it is, but down in the south of France all of the outfitters and many of the hotels and restaurants are closed.
Castelnaud on the Dordogne in winter:
Photo by Neil Sandbach
Canoeing clothes including shorts, t-shirts, fleece and swimming things.
Rain clothes. It's a well known fact that if you bring these it doesn't rain and if you don't it does!
Hat and perhaps a Bandana.
River shoes, shoes that you don't mind will get wet.
Something nice for your evenings out!
Fleece or jumper or jacket for cooler evenings and long trousers etc.
Although we never need formal clothes.
Hiking shoes or boots for when we hit the trail. Lightweight is fine.
Sunscreen or block.
Insect stuff. There are very few biting insects in this part of the world and very few mosquitoes. Best be safe though. Visitors from the USA should know that France has no Poison Ivy, but we do have Stinging Nettles.
Lip balms and moisturisers.
Water Bottle. Although we supply water it can get warm!
Drybag. This is a small water-proof bag to take in the canoe to keep your stuff in. We recommend one large enough for spare clothes and your waterproofs and then smaller ones for your valuables such as a wallet, phone, pad and camera.
Binoculars and camera.
Pocket Knife. Everyone like to whittle.
Books and journals and stuff.
We carry a First-Aid Kit both on the river and in the Minibus, but please remember to bring your medications and favourite remedies.
If you have any particular dietary requirements or allergies then please inform us before the tour and we will adjust our menus accordingly and make arrangements where necessary.
Breakfast is available at all our accommodations.
Usually it will consist of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) with bread & butter and jam. Often with croissants and pain au chocolate. Fresh fruit and juice is available at most places, and cereals and yoghurt are available at some places.
During the day we will take a picnic with us on the river and find somewhere pleasant to have our lunch beside the river or on a small island.
Our picnics will consist of fresh local breads, with local regional cheeses and charcuterie. We will also provide fresh raw and julienned vegetables, salad and seasonal fruit. To drink we will provide water and a local wine. When in the Perigord this could be a Pécharmant or a Bergerac, and whilst on the Célé we could try a Coteaux du Quercy or perhaps a black wine from Cahors.
If you have any preferences for lunch then we'll do our best to provide it.
In the evenings we will eat either at the place where we are staying or in a local restaurant in a village nearby. Every night all the guests and guides dine together. On the 12 Day trips we can organise a couple of evenings wehre we 'can be alone' if we want to be.
In the Perigord & Lot the regional cuisine specialises in duck and goose and includes foie gras and truffles. Famous dishes include confits (slow cooked duck or goose), magret de canard (duck breast) and cassoulet (a bean stew with sausage and duck). The region is also known for pommes sarladaises (roast potatoes in garlic and parsley) as well as a variety of local cheeses, especially cabécou (a light goats cheese).
The area is also well known for its walnuts - we will see plenty of walnut orchards - and these feature in a number of salads and desserts. We will want to sample the apéritif Vin de Noix (Walnut Wine) and the Vin de Châtaignes (Chestnut Wine).
Of course in other regions we will taste the specialities it has to offer.
All the canoes for the tours are provided by local outfitters and include paddles and a life-jacket. The price is included in the tour.
We use Old Town Canoes wherever possible which are paddled in tandem - with two people aboard (usually). If you prefer to paddle solo then this can be arranged. These canoes are especially suited for the calm water conditions we will be paddling on and are stable and safe. They allow plenty of room for yourself and your stuff.
Old Towns are available on the Dordogne/Perigord/Célé/Loire tours, but not for the Tarn or Ardèche tours - we have something similar.
Children under 7 yrs old (but over 5 yrs old) must paddle as a 3rd person, in the middle, of a tandem canoe. Children over 7 yrs old should paddle in tandem with an adult. Children will only be allowed to paddle together after we have observed them for a day or two. Life-jackets must be worn at all times.
The particular model is the Discovery 158 though not all models have the new seats with a back rest.
From time to time we have guests who wish to paddle a Kayak. We can arrange this for you if you prefer but we do stress that the rivers we canoe do not really warrant the use of a kayak and we feel tandem paddling in a canoe is the way to go.
Most of our guests have been canoeing before but we will insist on reviewing safety procedures at the beginning of paddling each day and revise paddling strokes for those who haven't paddled for a while or have paddled on lakes rather than rivers for example.
For those who have never paddled before their will be plenty of time for lessons as we go. These rivers are ideal places for learning.
If time and the inclination allows we can also practise other paddling procedures such as Eddy Turns, Peeling Out and Ferrying.
Our guests will not be expected to lift or carry canoes at any time.
Although the main focus of the tours will be on the canoeing we will have plenty of time for short walks and longer hikes.
Where possible we will walk to and from the river, although this is not compulsory.
In the appropriate season when early mornings are light we can opt to go for a pre-breakfast walk. The length and timing of the walk will depend on a consensus reached between those that wish to walk, how early we wish to rise and the time of year.
On the Célé River we are asked by the Friends of the Célé Association not to start canoeing before 11am. This is to allow the anglers some undisturbed time on the river. We will spend the intervening time between breakfast and 11am enjoying a walk.
Some of the trails we walk on form part of the network of long-distance paths that criss-cross France. These are known as Grand Randonees (GR) and are way-marked by a red and white flash. We may walk on the GR36 (which goes from Normandy to the Pyrenees) and the GR651 (a diversion of the famous Way of St. James (GR65) in the Célé Valley.
On the longer Ardèche tours we hike the famous Robert Louis Stevenson trail (GR70) that he wrote about in 'Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes'. We also hike the GR7 which traverses the Cévennes mountains.
This map covers the 12 Day 3 Rivers, 7 Day Perigord and 6 Day Célé Tours at 1cm per Kilometre
TOP100 IGN 154 Brive la Gaillarde/Figeac
These maps cover the 12 Day 3 Rivers and the 7 Day Perigord Tours at 4cm to the Kilometre.
TOP25 IGN 1936 ET Les Eyzies and IGN 2036 EY Sarlat/Souliac (Vallee de la Dordogne)
These maps are for the 6 Day Célé Trip, and the 12 Days 3 Rivers Trip also at 4cm to the Kilometre.
TOP25 IGN 2138OT Cahors/St. Cirq Lapopie/Vallee de Lot et de Célé and IGN 2238SB Carjac
These maps at 1cm to 1 Kilometre are for the 12 Day Ardèche/Tarn Tour and the 8 or 6 Day Ardèche Tour.
TOP100 IGN 163 Avignon Nimes and IGN 162 Rodez Millau
These two maps at 4cm to the Kilometre cover most of the rivers on the Ardèche Tours. Only the latter is required for the Tarn Tour.
TOP25 2939OT Gorges de L'Ardèche and IGN 2640OTR Gorges du Tarn covers most but not quite all tours.
These maps at 1cm to 1 Kilometre are for the 12 Day Ardèche/Tarn Tour and the 8 or 6 Day Tarn Tour.
IGN 162 Rodez Millau
This maps at 4cm to the Kilometre cover the rivers on the Tarn Tours.
IGN 2640OTR Gorges du Tarn covers most of the tour.
These maps cover the region at 1cm to 1km.
TOP100 IGN 127 Orleans/Blois This map covers the stretch of the Loir we paddle and the upper Loire either side of Blois.
TOP100 IGN 133 Tours/Blois This map covers the Loire from Blois down to Saumur and the Cher from either side of Chenonceaux.
TOP100 IGN 139 Poitiers/Chatellerault This map covers the Creuse river either side of Le Blanc and the Parc Naturel Regional de la Brenne.
In addition we have the IGN Carte Touristique for the Parc Naturel Regional Loire-Anjou-Tourraine (scale 1cm = 800m) [can't find this at the moment] and the Parc Naturel Regional La Brenne (scale 1cm = 600m).
Illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, The Discovery of France is a literary exploration of a country few will recognize; from maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it’s a book that reveals the ‘real’ past of France to tell the whole story – and history – of this remarkable nation.
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‘An extraordinary journey of discovery that will delight even the most indolent armchair traveller’ Daily Telegraph
For over a hundred years England repeatedly invaded France on the pretext that her kings had a right to the French throne. France was a large, unwieldy kingdom, England was small and poor, but for the most part she dominated the war, sacking towns and castles and winning battles - including such glorious victories as Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, but then the English run of success began to fail, and in four short years she lost Normandy and finally her last stronghold in Guyenne.
The protagonists of the Hundred Year War are among the most colourful in European history: for the English, Edward III, the Black Prince and Henry V, later immortalized by Shakespeare; for the French, the splendid but inept John II, who died a prisoner in London, Charles V, who very nearly overcame England and the enigmatic Charles VII, who did at last drive the English out.
Desmond Seward's account traces the changes that led to France's final victory and brings to life all the intrigue and colour of the last chivalric combats as they gave way to a more brutal modern warfare.
This book provides a clear and well-informed guide to French history from the emergence of a strong state in the Ile-de-France in the early middle ages, to the trente glorieuses following the Second World War and the Mitterrand presidency. As such, it provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of French history available. Among the book's central themes are the relationship between state and society, the impact of war and such crucial questions as who possessed political power, how this power was used, in whose interests, and with what consequences.
Roger Price examines the role of leading figures including Philip Augustus, Henri IV, Louis XIV, the two Napoleans, Clemenceau and De Gaulle as well as the lives of ordinary people. A rich entertaining guide for the student and general reader.
The Traveller's History series is designed for the traveller who feels they need more historical background information on the country in which they are staying than can be found in an ordinary guidebook. For those who want to look deeper and discover more about the roots of France, its history and culture, in an enjoyable read, this is the book to choose. Designed for easy reference it is the key to unlocking the secrets of France. If you want to find about the mysterious Merovingian kings or the results of the last election; if you want to know when Chartres cathedral was built or how Napoleon rose to power or when and where Princess Diana died - you'll find it all in A Traveller's History of France.
'Undoubtedly the best way to prepare for a trip to France is to bone up on some history. The Traveller's History of France by Robert Cole is concise and gives the essential facts in a very readable form.' The Independent
'This little book is a very good idea indeed, a running commentary on the complexities, triumphs and tragedies of French history from the Lascaux Caves to the Pompidou centre. A must for tourists who want to know what happened where.' The Birmingham Post
'A brilliant idea from Gloucestershire publishers Windrush: a series of books which give a potted history of European countries. Ostensibly aimed at holidaymakers, the first on France, is an excellent introduction for anyone who wants an idiot's guide to a history that has so often intertwined with our own.' The Oxford Times
The decorated Ice Age caves are some of mankind's greatest artistic achievements, and there is no substitute for seeing the caves themselves. There you can see the art – paintings, engravings, bas-reliefs or drawings – in its original, natural setting, and stand where the artists did 30,000–10,000 years ago.
For speleologists and holidaymakers alike – indeed anyone who wants to add a visit to a cave to their itinerary – here is an essential handbook. The first guide to all the decorated Ice Age caves in Europe that are open to the public, Cave Art covers more than 50 caves in England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as relevant museums and centres.
This second edition has been fully revised and includes three additional caves and four new facsimiles.
The Cave Painters is an introduction to the spectacular cave paintings of France and Spain. From the individuals who rediscovered them, through theories about their origins, and to descriptions of their splendour and mystery.Gregory Curtis makes us see the astonishing sophistication and power of the paintings and tells us what is known about their creators, the Cro-Magnon people of some 40,000 years ago.
He takes us through various theories—that the art was part of fertility or hunting rituals, or used for religious purposes, or was clan mythology—examining the ways interpretations have changed over time. Rich in detail, personalities, and history, The Cave Painters is above all permeated with awe for those distant humans who developed—perhaps for the first time—both the ability for abstract thought and a profound and beautiful way to express it.
All transport during the trip, including pick up and return to the meeting point
All accommodation and breakfasts
All evening meals.
All picnic lunches, including drinks
All canoe and paddling equipment, including drinking water
Services of guides at all times during the trip.
Services of Green River Canoes before the trip.
Transport from home to the meeting point.
Personal expenditure such as laundry and evening drinks.
Entrance fees to museums, castles and gardens etc
To book a trip send your request to us via an email with the details of which tour, your dates and how many people. Or use the form on the Contact page. A deposit of 10% is required. The balance is due 60 days before departure.
When a booking is confirmed and a deposit received you will be sent a full itinerary with complete details about the trip. Don't forget about travel insurance.
A booking deposit is currently not required during the Covid crisis.
If you cancel before 60 days then you may re-schedule your tour for another date at no extra charge or we will refund 75% of your deposit.
If you cancel within 30 to 60 days of depature, we will refund 50% of the trip price, and if you cancel within 30 days of departure we will refund 10% of the trip price.
In the unlikely event of the trip being cancelled by us then everything will be refunded.
No refunds are possible for arriving at a trip late or leaving early
Our tours run with a maximum of 7 guests (with 2 guides), or 14 guests (with 3 guides), unless a custom trip has been organised.
A tour needs a minimum of 4 guests to run. A tour with fewer persons cannot be run unless a surcharge is accepted. Alternatively a full refund will be made or the trip re-scheduled.
Single travellers are very welcome on our trips. Generally we have two to a room and if you are willing to share then that's great.
If you do want to have a room to yourself then the surcharge is 35 Euros per night. This does not apply if an odd number of guests are with us and a single-room is inevitable.
If you come on the tour as a couple but one of the partners does not wish to paddle the rivers then it is certainly possible to make other arrangements.
At the least you can accompany the driving guide or we can arrange for you stay at the lodgings during the day or even find you some walks. If you like to fish then we can also find you a spot on the river-bank.
Children are welcome on the tours although the minimum age is 5 yrs old. Children under 7 yrs old must paddle with two adults. Under 12's are not allowed to paddle on their own. We provide life-jackets and recommend that they are worn at all times when on the water. That applies to adults too.
Everyone should be able to swim 25m minimum.
The discount for those under 16 is 25% for the first and 50% for others.
All river trips involve some risk and you have the responsibility to select a tour appropriate to your ability. It is very important that you have appropriate insurance that covers loss, injury and even death to yourself and third-parties. If you are from the UK then we advise that you become a member of the British Canoe Union: this automatically provides insurance cover. If canoe adventures are covered in your standard travel insurance arrangements then this is fine. We will try to provide advice on these matters if required.
All of the guides on the tour will also be suitably insured.
If any person impairs the welfare of another person on the tour or impedes their enjoyment of the tour then we will ask them to leave. A refund is not possible under these circumstances.
All disputes will be settled by laws and courts in the UK and Europe.
Private bookings can be arranged for any of our tours. You choose the number of people and the dates you require and we will do our best to accommodate you.
If you require a longer tour, or indeed a shorter one then we can discuss this too. We can change the itinerary if you like and make room for other activities not mentioned here. Everything can be talked about.
For emergency contact during the trip please use the numbers on the Contact Page. These will reach the guides in France immediately, or you can call the inns directly. France is an hour ahead of UK Time and 6 hours ahead of Eastern Time for visitors from the USA.
At the beginning of the tour we will exchange mobile/cell telephone numbers.
We will also provide you with a full itinerary before the tour which includes all the hotels addresses and contact details.
If you are driving then we will make arrangements for you to leave your car: usually at our first nights accommodation.
We will of course deliver you back to your car at the end of the trip.
It may be possible for your car to come with us provided our driver can shuttle it and yours is the only car.
The fastest and most expensive way is a taxi.
By bus take the Air France bus #4 to Gare de Lyon and then walk 5-8 minutes to Austerlitz across the river.
By train take the RER B to Gare du Nord, and either connect to Metro line 5 in the direction of Place d´Italie and exit at Austerlitz or get the RER A to Gare du Lyon and walk over the river to Austerlitz.
For help connecting via other Railway Stations in Paris please contact us.
Tips at restaurants are covered by service charges and included in the costs of the tours. Tips are not expected at hotels in Europe.
Though welcome it is not necessary to tip the guides at the end of the tour.
Visitors from the European Union only require an ID card or a passport.
Visitors from other countries should check with their own Embassy and make sure that they have a passport that is valid beyond the length of the stay and a Visa if necessary.