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In the south of France, paddling for two days in a wonderful canyon
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Here below some of the most fascinating photos taken during our kayaking trip in the Ardèche river, in the south of France, and a funny and interesting trip report. This is just a part of a fantastic camper trip to France and Spain. Have a look!

Rock arch in the Ardèche - 32 kilometers along the Ardeche river on a kayak are a great experience.
At the end of our camper trip in France and Spain we arrived in Camargue, at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Mer.
Then, it was a pleasure to drive through the colorful French countryside - that alone would deserve a vacation - up to Vallon Pont d'Arc. This town is crossed by the Ardeche River, which flows from here for 32 spectacular kilometers at the bottom of an impressive canyon.
The best way to admire the gorges of the Ardeche is obviously a canoe trip. There are numerous travel agencies that rent kayaks and then retrieve the tourists at the end of the itinerary. There are different courses to choose from: the shortest is eight kilometers; the most fascinating is the one that runs through all the gorges. The trip can be divided into two days by camping one night along the river.
We chose the latter option. The cost of the canoe for two days was 35 euros per person, while the night in the campsite (to be booked in advance on high season weekends, unless you have the nerve to camp without permission) was 10 euros… it isn’t an expensive adventure.

We left just before lunch, so we had our sandwiches on the river. The Ardeche was large and quiet, with occasional rapids of the second degree. The water was green, the steep canyon walls were gray. Unfortunately, being Saturday, there were a lot of people and kayaks along the itinerary: it looked more like an amusement park than a river. It was a pity, because those spectacular and wild landscapes deserved peace and calm contemplation.
The landscapes of the Ardèche canyon are amazing, after having left the crowds of Sunday kayakists!
The rapids weren’t very difficult, but they couldn’t be underestimated. We were just at the beginning when a skittish lady cut in front of my kayak pushing me towards a rock. I hit it and my canoe capsized. My knees and elbows hit all the rocks on the river bottom but two. I got up and resumed the descent.
Since capsizing at least once was normality, it was useful to have a waterproof camera. The kayaks were rented together with a watertight bin, but it would have been very annoying to continuously open it and close it to get the camera... And the landscapes along the kayaking itinerary deserved lots of photos!
After a few kilometers we met a huge rock arch. It crossed the canyon from wall to wall. The river and the canoes passed under the natural bridge, but there was room enough for a cruise ship (luckily there were no large ships doing that trip).
We stopped to contemplate the grandeur of the landscape. When we moved on and we got deeper into the gorges, the crowds thinned out: most tourists undertook the short 8-km trip only. The landscape, however, became more and more fascinating. We paddled along the beautiful bends of the river, at the feet of hundred of meters high granite walls. When the gorge was a bit larger, there was lush vegetation. At one point I was alone and I stopped to look around. There was an idyllic peace. While contemplating that dreamy landscape I no longer knew where I was: it could be Canada or Tibet. I felt one with the nature and the world... it's hard to describe without sounding high, but it really was an ecstatic moment. A trip in the trip.
There is a lot of vegetaion that can be admired from the kayak along the Ardèche
Of course, I suppose that Canada and Tibet are much colder. In the Ardeche, the water temperature was perfect and it was a pleasure to dive into the river to cool off. Only in the late afternoon it became slightly colder. At that time we also began feeling a bit tired. Moreover, we were as hungry as a Muslim on a Ramadan night: the trees looked to us like tasty vegetables and when we met another kayaker he really smelled like chicken chops. The idyllic contemplation was a beautiful way to fulfill our spirit, but we also had some basic needs.
The whole descent of the Ardèche river by kayak is 32 kms: most people paddle only for the first 8, but the remaining part, free from the crowds, through impressive landscapes, is really wonderful.
It was about after one million miles that we met the first of the two authorized campsites on the Ardeche. Unfortunately, ours was the second one. We paddled for another half an hour before finally reaching it.
There were already a lot of people camping and grilling meat on the BBQ - we were a bit late. We mounted the tent and we pulled out the groceries from the bins. We had a lot of food, but to our hungry eyes it looked like a light appetizer. We used the grill and the charcoal provided by the campsite and we cooked our meat.
After dinner we went down to the beach where we listened to the river and we smoked a cigar (a sort of tradition for us, when we are having a trip). It was a beautiful moment.
The next morning, we packed everything up and we resumed our kayaking itinerary. The landscape was always fascinating and the weather very hot. There were curious limestone rock formations. At the end of the trip the river started filling up with people again. We had lunch and we played to capsize each other: it wasn’t a very intelligent game but it was funny and also a good way to cool off.
Finally we arrived at the end of the trip: we were tired and satisfied when we crossed the finish line. We waited over an hour before being loaded onto a bus that took us to our van. We drove back to Italy.
In conclusion, the descent of the Ardeche by kayak is truly spectacular. If possible, you should do it on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Perhaps it would be interesting to try it in May, when the water level is higher and the rapids are more fun. Of course, in July the water is warmer and it's a real pleasure to dip and swim in the river.<
In the evening of our first kayaking day, before arriving at one of the camping sites along the river, the atmosphere on the Ardèche river was idyllic
From the Basque Country to kayaking in the Ardèche, it had been a busy week to say the least. A trip to very touristy countries, yet an original journey, thanks to the spirit of improvisation, the constant desire to go further, exploring it all, and thanks to the choice of special destinations.
Of course, a huge “thank you” goes to our van, our portable home. At the end of the holiday, Vito felt beautiful, proud and happy. Absolute freedom is a myth, but our van knew that he made us touch it for a moment. Then I told him about sailing and he became jealous. Well, it’s an open discussion about where the most freedom is found.
And so, delirious and tired but happy after a travel itinerary of 3000 kilometers, our trip ended. It was time to rest and to think a little bit about the following vacations. In fact, relax and routine have their own value, but it's important to be ready to seize the day… you never know what might come up!
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