Well, you lucky people now get two “kayaking on rivers in France” posts for the price of one. Aren’t you lucky
First off is one of the classic trips in the area into the western end of the Gorges du Verdon from where it enters the Lac de Sainte Croix
We’ve done this many times before although on a rented pedalo. This normally involves a long queue and significant cost and this was the primary driver for the purchase of the new kayak (and pedalos are a little un-cool)
I had an idea that we could attach an inflatable to the back and tow TJF along and she loved the idea. As you can see she was in her element!
Its a spectacular trip with the sheer walls of the gorge rising up over 1000 feet. In truth its less the Verdon river and more just an extension of the lake into the lower part of the gorge.
There is still a current though and paddling a kayak upstream towing a dead-weight person in a large rubber ring is hard work!
The views were as spectacular as ever and me and TJF enjoyed a swim halfway down where the cascade tumbles into the gorge
Its very well known, with several places to rent water craft and extremely popular. Quite brash and noisy but well worth a couple of hours on a hot sunny day
TBF took on the more challenging swim, half a mile back to the shore across the open water of the lake from the bridge
Our second trip a couple of days later was down at the opposite end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. The lake itself I’ve overlooked in the past but as you can see from the photo below (taken from the roadside) and from later posts to come, its a wonderful spot.
Our trip was along the Gorges de Baudinard from the Pont Sylvestre. The weather was stunning and the start point where the gorge opens out to a small lake and campsite was sublime
Its still the Verdon river but its southern outflow from the Lac de Sainte Croix. Whilst not as deep or awe inspiring as the main gorge, its no less wonderful.
After a short stretch of shallow gorge it opens out into medium sized lake (and a much easier place to launch than where we did)
We had TJF in tow once more
After passing through the lake its a long leisurely paddle back up to the dam at the end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. Being little known its much quieter and sedate than the main gorge. Just a handful of boats from the rental place at the campsite
There are numerous overhangs and caves to explore
As you reach the end the walls narrow dramatically and are dripping with lush foliage, terms and water. With water feeding in through the rocks and little sunlight the water is markedly colder than the lake
Being the only one in the party who can control a kayak properly, I did threaten to take everyone under the dripping water for an ice cold shower. An ice cold look from TBF made me think better of it
We returned back down the gorge to enjoy the views again
You can’t float down a river this stunning and not take a dip in its cool, clear water. Or should I say cold, clear water. Even out in the open the water here was sharply cold, verging on freezing. We both took turns taking a swim. Once used to the temperature the swim was superb. The water was crystal clear and refreshing and the outside temperature still near 30C so easy to warm up. TBF after an initial shock loved the swim and again took a long stretch down the gorge
Another big thank you to the “Wild Swimming” guide for finding us such a stunning and peaceful spot in the tourist mecca that is Provence. Well worth seeking out and one of my new favourite places