30th July 2010 Prades to Langeac
A leisurely start followed by an easy
days paddling on a grade 2 section with interesting
rapids, rather too much flat water but a really
interesting weir at the end with a fantastic water chute
followed by a very playful drop. With a mixture of
paddling skills this was the right call to get us all in
The pattern for the week was quickly
established with Ben in the lead Kevin Chris and Dave in
the middle and UD Dave and Phil at the rear. Oh, the UD
is short for Upside down, not that UD Dave was upside
down that often but when he was he seemed content to
stay like that until he either found a rock to push up
on, was rescued or managed to roll up. One option that
never seemed to occur to him was swim. Challenging for
Dave: endless entertainment for the rest.
An enjoyable day followed by an
enjoyable evening spent in a typical French local bar
serving basic but very good set menu food.
31st July 2010 Monistrol to Prades
The pace hots up with this 12km mainly
grade 2 but lots of grade 3 bits section. Still quite a
lot of flat water at the end though. This was the
section that Chris used last year to re-profile his
derriere so was a bit of a personal challenge to get
Although the day started fine as soon
as we got off the water the sky darkened, the wind
picked up and the heavens opened. We had overtaken
several other paddlers on our descent and now wondered
how they fared, several of them being in Hot Dogs. We
gave their dilemma some serious consideration for many
seconds before Kevin dragged us off to a nice dry bar.
Unbelievably we chose this wet and
windy evening to cook at the camp site with Phil
lighting his barby and everyone else firing up their
camping stoves and then all huddling in the capacious
tent thoughtfully provided by Chris and Dave. Yes the
one that everyone said why do you want such a big tent??
1st August 2010 Chapereaux to Pont
16km of grade 2 with some grade 3
bits. An interesting and not so popular section with
typical wooded granite gorges and sandy beaches. For
anyone who knows the area you will see that we are
working our way up river section by section, as to be
expected the river becomes more interesting and
challenging in the upper sections it is also a lot more
remote and with very few other paddlers. The scenery is
different as well, with the river running through deep
gorges, eagles circling overhead (well big sea gulls
anyway) and great boulders in the river to keep you on
Water levels throughout the week were
OK but did seem to vary during the day. As it is all
dependant on dam releases we were wondering at times if
the river would disappear leaving us stranded in a sea
of boulders. Water temperature varied but was noticeably
warmer in the lower sections.
A culinary disaster of an evening
eating out at the local Pizzeria , all fresh from the
freezer via the microwave, served individually with a 2
minute gap between pizzas and the chips to follow.
2nd August 2010
A day off paddling and a visit to Le
Puy en Valley. A typical French medieval town with its
ancient cathedral of Notre Dame, lots of interesting
shops mostly closed and good selection of restaurants
and bars. Ben very ably navigated us through the maze of
streets using his near photographic memory from last
year. Who needs Tom Tom when you have Ben Ben.
It also has its fair share of
monumental follies built by disgustingly rich people to
edify the church and themselves, mostly themselves.
Perhaps the revolution missed Le Puy.
3rd August 2010 Joncherette to
Back to paddling again with one of the
best sections on the river, this includes the grade 5
“unrunnable one”. This year with the water levels lower
it looked far less daunting than last year but the
entrance to and egress from it were far worse. Some of
us walked it but Ben, Dave and Phil applied skill over
common sense and did it anyway.
There are quite a few other
interesting features on this section and one in
particular had bad memories for Kevin who still has the
scars on his Sweet Rocker from last year. He bravely
faced his demons and came through unscarred if not
4th August 2010 St Etienne to
We certainly saved the best to last,
the very top 7km section together with a re run of the
11km we did the day before. The top is by far the most
interesting lots of grade 3 with a few grade 4 bits.
Most memorable being the serpent rapids followed by the
triple drop (see below) and towards the end “the
hammering”. With the time needed for the shuttle runs
this makes for a long day and we were all pretty tired
by the end of it.
5th August 2010Langeac Weir
A quieter day and a chance to get the
play-boats out of the van. Kevin, Dave and Ben play in
the play spot below Langeac Weir while Chris gets in the
water for some close up pictures.
After a look around Langeac its back
to the Pain and Sucre for supper where Dave uses his
superior knowledge of French Menus to end up with a
pathetic attempt at a desert the size of a chocolate
button as opposed to the really rather good chocolate
mousse that everyone else enjoyed.
6th & 7th August 2010
The long drive back with the only
highlight being the cake shop in Dreux, Phil found it
and unbelievably Chris missed it again. Caught the later
18.30 ferry which for some strange reason gets in before
the 17.00 ferry, well done Phil for that timesaver.
Returned to Phil’s at one in the
morning and emptied the contents of both vehicles over
the road outside his house while everyone sorts out what
belongs to whom. Finally after 18hrs travelling we
arrive home at some absurd hour of the morning, ready to
drop, ready for bed and ready to do it all again next
Last but not least a big thank you to Phil for all
the planning, organising, chasing and hard work that he
did to arrange this holiday and see us all down the
river and back home safely. (Even if it was all at the