Canoeing the Dordogne River of France

Ever thought about canoeing in Europe. A group of us were on a bicycle touring trip of the Dordogne River region of Southern France where we stopped for a few nights in Beynac.  The Dordogne River is located just north of Toulouse and eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Bordeaux

While at our hotel in Beynac we saw an ad for a canoeing adventure on the Dordogne and decided to book as all six of us were canoeists. While we canoe and kayak a lot in Canada this was to be our first European canoe day trip.

We were picked up early the next morning by a van and taken a few kilometers upstream where our three canoes waited along a sandy shore. We were given lifejackets, paddles and a short safety lesson along with instructions on where to leave the river after our voyage.

And off we went into the fast current although it did slow in some of the wider section later along. Although we were in France surprisely we pasted some forested sections where there were lots of birds along sections of the shore.

Canoeing the Dordogne River of FranceWe knew we were not in Canada when we paddled past vineyards stretching along the shores. Another thing we can’t do in Canada is pull up to the shore and park the canoes and head off into a nearby bar for a coffee and pastry on the outdoor patio.

About mid-way towering above us was Castelnaud, the English castle dating from the 100 years war. We visited this castle a few days later and as it sits atop a high hill it offers great views of the Dordogne river valley and town below. There are lots of exhibits showing life from the Middle Ages, in particular the catapults on display were amazing.

Our journey took us past the pretty village La Roque Gageac with its one street sandwiched between the river and a rocky cliff. The bend in the river here offered great photo opportunities of the stone houses of this village lining the river.

Next up was Beynac passing our hotel with the French castle of the same name also from the 100 years war. While a tough walk up a steep hill this fortress is also great to visit especially the dungeons. Part of the movie Chocolat was filmed in this town and there was another British film crew in town doing a movie during our visit.

After 2 ½ hours and eleven kilometers we arrived at the downstream pier to rendezvous with the van for the drive back to our hotel. On our many visits to Europe we have noticed many opportunities for canoeing or rafting  in Austria, Germany and elsewhere.

While kayaking or canoeing in Europe may not be top of mind, consider it on your next vacation as Canoeing in Europe is a very different experience.

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