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Just couldn't resist another adventure on the French 'Amazon' !
Once more unto the breach, my love!!
Yes, a little different from the last time we ventured onto the waters of La Loire, because my wife, Lucy, had been persuaded (rather reluctantly, I might add) to join us on our voyage into the unknown! (well, it was for her, as she had never done anything like canoeing before.) She was, to put it mildly, a little apprehensive.
However, we all set off – Me, Lucy, and our son, Ellis, and our friends Jackie, Mark, and their son, Daniel.
It was a glorious, sunny day, and we were going to be canoeing on a different part of La Loire this time. Starting from Roanne, near the harbour, and travelling over 4 hours to the third bridge just outside the village of Briennon.
We had decided to make most of the day of it, and pull in at some point about halfway for a picnic ( We had prepared well, along with absolute essentials such as a good bottle of the local Cote Roannaise Rosé wine, pre-chilled and then carefully packed with iced coolers.) I was really looking forward to it! (and the wine!).
More than I can say for Lucy!
However, we met up with our canoeing guys who installed us in their 4 x 4, plus a trailer of canoes.
We sat in our lifejackets next to a family of Germans.
It was obviously going to be a somewhat competitive trek!
Lucy is half German on her mother's side, so I felt that we might have the edge!
We arrived at our embarkation point in Roanne. The sun was shining, the water seemed a gentle ripple reflecting the sunlight. A perfect day for it, whatever 'it' turned eventually out to be.
Things looked good.
We jumped eagerly in (well, except Lucy), and set off into the unknown again.
And it was, indeed, the unknown!
In our canoe Lucy was up front, Ellis centre, and me at the back in driving and commander role, of course.
Lucy took her time to gain her river legs, particularly as we had only paddled about 10 metres when we grounded, having hit bottom on a gravel bank in the middle of a fairly fast-moving part of the river.
The canoe wobbled. Lucy wobbled. The canoe wobbled even more!
Lucy's screams of panic could be heard all the way down the river to Roanne Port!
We didn't bother, however, to set off any distress flares at this point.(Kept them in reserve until later!)
I got out and pushed the canoe off into deeper water, and then scrambled back in.
Lucy calmed down and settled into a bit of a rhythm with the paddle.
We were off at last! Into 'The Wild'.
But the ride, and 'The Wild' was much different than before – Yes, fantastic scenery, herons, egrets, fish, and river bank vistas, but this time alot of mini-rapids with lots of rocks above and below the water, and swirling currents, where I had to get out on several occasions and rescue the boat with all my charges on board!
I had to dig deep! I was the 'hero' of the day!!
We settled down, though, and it was all great fun. Lucy really enjoyed it, and turned out to be quite a paddler (although that was possibly because she wanted to get to the end, and finish her 'nightmare' experience as soon as possible!)
I, of course joke.
She really did have fun, and surprised herself, and me!
The additional point I am also making here is that you do not have to be an experienced canoeist with Olympic talents to enjoy this activity, here in Le Roannais.
Nor is it prohibitive to be only 6 years old, like Ellis and Daniel.
It is excellent family fun, and good exercise to boot.
It is very safe if you follow a few simple rules. La Loire at this point of its flow down south is quite shallow, and provides for an easy canoe ride, despite the rather exciting mini-rapids.
Our picnic was also a success, and the wine was perfect! We relaxed.
The children played in the mud by the riverbank. It was idyllic.
And, although we could've easily beaten the Germans to the last bridge, in good old British form we decided that we couldn't be arsed!!
When you find yourself in Le Roannais and you want a bit of canoeing fun check out:-
'Canoé Loire Aventure' at Briennon
Telephone 06 07 88 48 78
Alternativeley, if you would like us to arrange a complete activity week/week-end for you, including travel and accommodation please let us know, and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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