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Following the themes of our last couple of articles about Roanne and La Loire, last week we had some fantastic fun canoeing down La Loire.
This was a 'first' for me and my 6 year old son, Ellis, my 18 year old stepson, OJ, and nine year old daughter of my friend Fabrice, Marie.
None of us were quite sure what we were getting into, apart from a canoe, of course.
Was it dangerous, particularly for the kids, were they too young?!
Would I be able to look after them whilst trying to save my own life?!!
What were the currrents of the mighty Loire going to be like – could we handle this, with virtually no experience (and certainly none recently) of this activity?
We were like an expedition of explorers to the depths of the Amazon!
Well, it was all quite professionally handled by a local specialist organising canoeing experiences on La Loire. A family-run business called 'Aventure' based near Briennon in Le Roannais.
We were supplied with life jackets, of course, and small plastic tubs for all our towels, and possessions, etc. to store safely in the canoe.
I was going in a 3 person canoe with Ellis and Marie, and OJ (to his delight) was going on his own in a single.
We all climbed aboard long wheel-base 4×4 with trailer carrying all the canoes (very clever stacking with the canoes designed to slot into each other). There was also a family of Dutch tourists coming with us.
A few kilometres (15 minutes up the road) we got to our starting point near the main bridge at Briennon. And at the Edge of the fast-flowing La Loire we climbed aboard and were unceremoniously pushed off into the unknown!
The current quickly took us side ways, and I struggled to move the canoe towards the centre of the river, and avoid an island of trees and scrub. Ellis was a little worried! I was a little concerned!!
Anyway, we got control and away we went.
The sun was shining, it was very warm, the water splashed around us, and the scenery along the banks and beyond was beautiful.
All kinds of birds flying around, and unknown creatures splashing in the waters while we were needing to control the canoes through the fast-running la Loire.
Entertaining, as well as good exercise!
We settled down to a steady paddle, and the experience was brilliant for all of us.
Both Ellis and Marie took it in turns to paddle – Ellis loved it.
OJ was well on his way, and always kept his lead.
We were previously told by our 'Aventure' guide to head for the next bridge down La Loire at Iguerande, and he would meet us at the arrival point there – this was 2 hours canoeing away!!
Needless to say, we all got there safe and sound – a little shattered, but this was overshadowed by the fun and enjoyment of the experience.
We will certainly be doing it again, and I can emphatically recommend this to any other daring adventurers and fun-lovers.
The cost for us was around 45 euros (£30) for the 4 of us in two canoes (with a bit of a discount for the kids). Well worth it!