Heat Wave in Southern France

It was so hot in France, that all we really wanted was to cool down in or on the water. So we contacted one of the many rental agencies near the beautiful, green river Ardèche. We would have taken a two-day trip, but my arm was hurting so we decided to “play it safe” and only book for one day.

Clumsy "kayaks"

My brother Tobias joined, which was great! I was sitting in front and Freek in the back, while he did all the paddling – so when it was too tough, he switched with Tobias who was sitting in a single kayak.

We didn’t think much of the big, clumsy kayaks – but we quickly realized that the broad kayaks had an advantage when hitting into the sharp rocks.

However, we still got a couple of bad surprises when a boat suddenly capsized in front of us or someone fell in the water. With no way of stopping, it’s not very nice!

A tourist experience

The Ardèche is absolutely beautiful and the way of experiencing the depth of the landscape and the height of the mountains when floating by, is totally worth it. But it is also an experience of mass tourism and cheep experience economy. Photographers were waiting around the corners, ready to take snaps as we paddled by in hopes of selling them later.

We got no instructions in rowing technique and helmets were only given to children and guides. The paddles, though of different length, were randomly handed out and there were no first aid kits or anything like it.

The other tourists looked perplexed when we offered our assistance after capsizing, natural as this is to us with a kayaking club background, they did not seem to have thought of it themselves.

At the end of the ride

After lunch, bathing, a couple of crashes and good laughs – we reached the end of our route, 30 km from the start. As confused tourists tried to find the right trailer for their kayaks and the right bus for themselves, photographers tried to sell their pictures with flyers and handouts. The color-coded kayaks got sorted out between the different renters and were made ready for another bumpy day on the Ardèche.

It is definitely an experience worth the effort – but next time we will try it out in the springtime, when the water levels are higher and the tourists further between 🙂