Looking for rapids and relaxation this summer? Then kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche may be the answer. The Ardeche Gorge in the south of France is known as the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Europe. With a nice climate and spectacular scenery, it’s a popular kayak destination and great for adventure holidays.
For 30km of it’s 125km length, the Ardeche river winds through limestone cliffs that tower over the steep canyon of Ardeche Gorge. People visit the Ardeche from all over the world, not just for the kayaking but also hiking, potholing/caving, rock climbing, mountain biking and much more.
Although there are many companies in the area we recommend Adventure Ardeche. They have been guiding groups down the Ardeche for over 25 years, along with a whole host of other activities. Furthermore as a British company based in France you get a personalised service that you just can’t beat.
Kayaking in Ardeche
The river through the Ardeche Gorge is graded from class 1 to 3 (dependent on water levels). There are around two dozen rapids, none of which require serious technical ability to navigate. And if you end up in the water, don’t worry is stays warm until around October.
The easy rapids make kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche suitable for complete beginners and families. Although there is nothing too serious, more experienced kayakers will still enjoy playing in the rapids and experiencing the views.
What makes Ardeche so popular is its natural surroundings of river dug caves, caverns and canyons that are a listed part of France’s protected natural heritage. Even driving here is a delight as you cruise the overhanging road of the nature reserve.
Ardeche kayaking descent options
If you are new to kayaking, then start with the upper section of the Chassezac River, which culminates at the Pont D’Arc, a natural arc that spans one of France’s most beautiful visitor sites. It only takes two hours and is perfect for the first timer.
Another popular route for beginners is the 8km stretch from Vallon Pont D’Arc to Chames. You should allow at least two hours, but can easily make a half day of it. Take a break on the river bank, have a swim and enjoy the views.
There are plenty of options that take a whole day, plus multi-day routes with camping along the way. There are popular Ardeche Gorge descents that take up to three days and cover between 24 and 45 kms – perfect for kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche.
If you wish, there are kayaking lessons run in the Ardeche Gorge for beginners. Plus kayak clinics, such as those run by Adventure Ardeche, for more experienced paddlers to improve their skills.
Kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche
The Ardeche region is easily accessed from Lyon, Marseille or Montpellier airport. There are plenty of accommodation options ranging from gites and hotels to camping. Many companies, run guided kayaking tours that include the kayak hire, food and accommodation.
For more exciting rapids the best time to kayak the Ardeche is in spring when the current is at its strongest. In July and August it can get busy, and it can be very hot in the gorge. Water temperature stays nice well into the autumn.
Of course kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche are much more than your time floating down the river. There is some great rock climbing on the limestone crags and there are hiking and biking trails criss crossing the national park. Being in the South of France it would also be rude not to spend some time relaxing.
Spending a couple of days paddling down the gorge can be fitted into a weekend. But there is so much to do in the area that we recommend you visit for a week, that way you can make the most of kayaking adventure holidays in Ardeche and enjoy a combination of rapids and relaxation.
If you would like to book a trip then regardless of whether you are a beginner or experienced kayaker, family, individual or group, check out our Adventure Ardeche: www.adventureardeche.com.