Top Ten France Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Kayak the Ardèche Gorges
By Patricia Ochs
  |  Gorp.com

Pale-green waters with start-and-stop rapids that twist and turn down 75 miles (119 kilometers) of spectacular wilderness: The Ardèche River has carved its way over the same limestone plateau since the Alps were forming 60 million years ago. The formations—some cliffs in the Ardèche canyon rise 1,000 feet (300 meters) straight up—make kayaking one of the best finds in France. Start a two-day trip at Vallon and pass under the Pont-d'Arc, a gigantic natural bridge 112 feet (34 meters) high. Two campsites have been designated along this 78-mile (125-kilometer) stretch, at Gaud and at Gournier. The "gorgeous" formations you pass—Les Trois Eaux (Three Waters), La Dent Noire (Black Tooth), and Les Templiers (The Templars)—make you want to keep on going even beyond. Watch for jackdaws, shrikes, and various birds of prey. Two cautionary notes: This route is closed to children under age seven, and the water level is higher in spring.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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