Planning France Canoe Trip Help

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Bushcraftsman

Native
Apr 12, 2008
1,368
5
Derbyshire
Good Morning Everyone,


I’m trying to plan a canoe trip with my girlfriend, I’m used to doing week long trips of “roughing” it (i.e middle of Sweden, in a hammock, no designated camp spots, no showers etc) but I’m trying to ease her up to that, so to start with I want to take her on a 3-4 day canoe trip in a tent. I’ve been looking at the south of France, maybe fly from east midlands airport (I live in derby so it’s very handy) straight to Bergerac and then jump on the Dordogne for a few days and stay at designated campsites where there are facilities for her to shower and stuff, make it as easy as possible so I don’t scare her off! Do any of you have any suggestions for similar trips? Or if you’ve even done the Dordogne and can provide some advice that’d be great! If not the Dordogne specifically, any other “easy” trips with designated camp sites that you’ve had experience with would be great, I know there’s loads of options on the net I just wanted to find a trip that someone had actually done themselves so I can ask more questions! :)


Thank you

Kind Regards



Jordan
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
Currently they rebuild the rails between Libourne and Bergerac and Sarlat. But SNCF busses replace the line.
I used the bus line a couple of weeks ago and got the impression that the landscape around the Route Departemental D 936 isn't very lovely. It follows the Dordogne. The area is spoiled by industrial wine production, so far I could see it out of the bus.
But eastern from Bergerac, direction Perigeux as well as direction Sarlat-la Caneda, Brive la Gaillard and Cahors the landscape is very lovely as well as the towns, continuing to Aurillac, Figeac, Albi and Millau. Periguex, Brive, Aurillac and Rodez have less lovely outer areas but nice city centres.


The camping ground in Bergerac is located next to the old town in 10 minutes walking distance to the tourist office. The old town is lovely and not to touristic. You enter it directly from the tourist office, that means after you passed the bridge you turn left and walk down the hill. In the old town you find lovely bars and restaurants, a market hall and every thing you like.

From the camping ground to the bridge you find a good bakers shop on the camping grounds side of the river as well as a traditional bar, where you can get a good coffee and eat your croissants you bought from the baker as well.

The camping ground itself is very simple and relatively sandy, but ok. The owners are friendly and they speak English. The camping ground is located exactly next to the river. If you pass the way on the lowest level along the river in direction of the bridge you find some nice located publik benches a few meters away from the camping ground. But they are missing at the simple camping ground.

I own and use Canadian canoes since decades. At this point the river looks very very easy. But I didn't go there with the boat and I didn't swim in it. I just looked at it. In my opinion from this point of view the river can be easily discovered with children or beginners.

For more informations I recommend to call the tourist office in Bergerac. It's absolutely possible that they can tell you a lot of camping grounds along the Dordogne.

Pay attention that they are still open if you reach them! Perhaps a few will close in October. You should call them, they usually speak a bit English.

Bergerac isn't located in the hot area of southern France. Four weeks ago it was very warm in the day but relatively cold during the night, it went down to 12 degrees in the morning.

The hot area of southern France is located southern of the line Toulouse, Albi, Rodez, Mende, Valence, Die, Gap, Menton.

Bordeaux has still the relatively cold Atlantic weather, Bergerac as well, and Brive la Gaillarde, Sarlat, Cahors, Figeac, Aurillac are pretty high located, it becomes fresh in the summer nights and even cold in mai over there! 5 degrees can easily happen in mai during the night.

Good warm weather even later in the year you can expect in Millau, where everything is organised for canoe tourism. But the river Tarn is a bit more complicated!!!

Montpellier has an international airport as well and is incredibly nice. From the perfect located youth hostel in very bad conditions but with a very nice team I walk with luggage perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to the railway station. There is a modern tramway too, the tram stop is 1 minute from the youth hostel.

Somehow will be a connection with train or bus to Millau. I never used it.

Millau is very nice and the whole area around is a fantastic hiking area for persons who are able to carry enough drinking water and have no problems with hot weather.
Now, later in the year it could be the best choice for you. But I never went down the tarn by canoe. I just walked there around and we organised concerts in the area, so I know that all as a car user who is usually using camping grounds. But I was hiking there as well.


http://www.bushcraft.fr
 
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Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
Something totally different:

We have at the border between Brandenburg and Mecklenburg a fantastic lake area, only flat water, lakes and channels. Perfectly outfitted with camping grounds.
Crowded in the summer, lonely three quarters of the year.
Railway connection from Berlin to Fürstenberg, where you can rent a canoe.

A very good recommendation for beginners.

But of course, the lakes are large if you fell in and cold in Spring and Autumn...

Different to Britain the weather over there is relatively dry.
 

Keith_Beef

Native
Sep 9, 2003
1,331
237
51
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
Canoeing is very widespread along certain rivers, but I don't know much about canoe camping.

Along the Dordogne and Vézère there are plenty of companies renting out canoes by the hour or the day, especially around Brantôme; some of those might rent them out by the weekend or week...

Of course, the big problem would be if you need to return your canoe to the place where you pick it up... that would mean paddling upstream for as long as you paddled downstream.

The ideal solution, I suppose, is to buy a trip from a tour company, who will rent you the boat, book your places at campsites along the route, and then collect your canoes on a trailer at the end.

Google for "randonée canoë" plus the name of the river or a town along the river, and see what you come up with.

Here's an example of what you'll find:
http://www.vezere-canoe.com/?lang=en#rando
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
In my impression most people who rent out canoes in France give the option to give them back at a lower point.
Just call and ask them, the young generation who works in tourism speak very well English.

In Brantôme the river is relatively calm.
A good beginners option in my opinion.

The Camping ground in Brantôme is very nice, next to the river and in Walking distance to the town. They sell you a quiet good pizza if you like in the camping grounds own restaurant.

The area is lovely but lonely. You should carry your food with you like in Sweden!!!

There isn't much to see in town, just the Abbey and two streets with shops, a few restaurants and a nice Hotel at the bridge. Brantome is very small, but I like it.
 
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Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Not France, but Sweden. The lakes north of Kristianstad are excellent.
Easy paddling, nice places to camp, beautiful nature, not too many tourists messing up the nature.

Yes, canoe rental places that are well stocked.
And the vast majority of people speak decent English.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
But usually they speak a horribly French, Janne!
The Croissants are bad, the coffee is bad, the confiture des figues you can surch even in Stockholm for several hours!
The whole Swedish food is a disaster, if you compare it with France.

I don't want to write about Swedish wine production. Bergerac, next to Bordeaux in this point surely is the far better Idea.

But you are right: For canoe trips Swedish lakes are probably the best option in Europe. May be well organised people are able to order food boxes from France just in time. That's probably a modern option that makes tours in Sweden a bit more agréable.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
We think that having a Royal family that originate in France is enough. It was a happy day for us Royalists when the king met a German girl.

Coffee is the best in Scandinavia and Finland, that is the reason we are in the top consumers worldwide!

French food? Give me German/Austrian. Healthier.

I recall seeing one of Rick Steins travel programmes, where he travelled on a house boat in France.
Can you rent a canoe and paddle on the canals?
( R. Stein is an English tv chef)
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
I think you can rent a canoe nearly everywhere in France, but the rivers of course are more interesting.

I came along a lot of the rental points in the last weeks, especially where you find relatively slow floating water. The rivers are warm during the summer. That's surely quiet funny. People obviously love it.

Totally different to flat water canoeing in Sweden, Mecklenburg or Masuren. I really should take the time next year to try it out in France just for a day...
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
Responsible wild camping is usually tolerated in France.
If there isn't danger of forest fires you usually get no problems.

But they make a difference between "Camping Sauvage"=Wild Camping which means behaviour like on a camping ground for longer times, what is NOT ALLOWED.

And the tolerated "Bivouaquer", what means set up late for only one night when hiking and leave the place early in the morning, what is usually tolerated and in some cases really legal, if you are on public ground in the free landscape, far away from the next camping ground or your car, and if you are on foot, with a bike or little boat.
On private ground you need theoretically the landowners permission, but if you don't want to camp in a private garden, they usually don't hunt you away if you just stay for a night.
Hiking and biking are very common in France and they usually look at the hiker as a guest. French people most times are really friendly.

In towns a good solution is an unused space next to a Sporting area, because in the French point of view hiking is a sport.

Several public Camping grounds "Camping municipale" in small towns share the toilets and showers with the sport field.
So if you are wrong there, the fault isn't so heavy. They even allow you most times to use the showers.

:)

But of course; If the town has a camping ground they expect you to use it.
For hikers they are usually very cheap, round about 10€ per night and person, in the north and inner country often less than that.

I recommend to use camping grounds with up to 3 stars, which most times are very nice, and to avoid camping grounds with five stars, which usually are a Disney land.

The best are farmers camping grounds, called "Aire naturelle" or "camping a la ferme", which have only 30 places for campers and usually are very simple.

https://rural-camping.com/france/index.htm

The public camping grounds "Camping municipale" are usually a very good deal, based on a simple standard but often perfectly located and usually very clean and well made.

http://www.camping-municipal.org

I recommend to call them in the morning or afternoon to ask, if they have place for you and till when you may arrive, because they usually close the reception at round about 7PM.
But if you ask, if it isn't possible to enter the ground on foot later, that's usually no problem.
Between midday and 2 PM most receptions are closed, often they open at 3 PM. In France nearly everybody makes a mid day intermission.
 
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Keith_Beef

Native
Sep 9, 2003
1,331
237
51
Yvelines, north-west of Paris, France.
The "Camping municipale" is often right by the side of the river. Convenient if you're canoeing, but not so convenient when there is a flash flood...

Safety standards have improved, but up until a few years ago I seem to remember that there were several deaths every three years or so.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,721
644
Berlin
If it rains in southern France during the summer, it often rains horribly.

People usually don't think about that.
I often have seen people on camping grounds who got everything totally whet.

Not every place they offer you is well protected, especially because now a days the camping car became the standard.
 

mowerman

Full Member
Aug 23, 2015
120
11
Shropshire
Why not save yourself some time and money and canoe the river wye in England?

Great scenery, campsites, B&B's and pubs all along the route.

Take your own canoe or hire one.

A great 5 day itinerary is Glasbury to Ross on wye