Poujol to Tarassac
Sit-on-top kayaking in the vallee - de l'Orb
It's only in recent years I've had the chance to explore the South of France and this was my second trip to Languedoc. So much space, so peaceful and such stunning scenery. The hills and forest were enough to have me enthralled, but the icing on the cake was a canoe trip with a bunch of guys from the Sri Chinmoy Centre - a multinational crew from Ireland, Fance, England, Scotland, Australia....
We turned up at Tarassac and booked sit-on-top kayaks - there was a choice of double or single and the price was around 23 euro each including PFD, paddle, helmet (optional - we didn't bother) and a lift to the start point at Poujol. This as a beginner's trip, some flat water but numerous rapids grades 1 to 2. You'd never be allowed to head off sans helmet as beginners and paddle this kind of water in the UK!
The start at Poujol was in a flat pool above a low rock dam - once we'd paddled around enough to get our bearings it was down the long, wooden ramp/flume that ended with a boof! A one metre drop onto the flat water below. A great way to start the paddle as it got you used to being taken by the current and having very little control of what happened next - until the landing of course, where most of us managed to stay upright without much hassle. A few pirates in the party began a splash war - a few of us up the front were enjoying the peace of the exquisite valley with its high sides and long stretches of flat water interspersed with decent, rocky rapids.
I'd guess the rapids were grade 1 to 2, twisty currents dragging the boat in a slalom round the rocks - sometimes straight over them. Although the sit on boats were hard to steer accurately, they were pretty good at staying stable. I managed to remain in the boat the whole time despite my inexperience! Those in tandem boats weren't always so lucky and managed to swim a fair bit. Water wasn't too cold though in the sunny Languedoc region.
The final rapid had a warning sign - "Rapide Le Plus Difficile" or something like that. That was where I got closest to swimming, but as with the previous whitewater sections (I use the term from a novice point of view) the super stable boat kept righting itself however bad my line was and I remained upright.
Once at the end we beached the boats and swam out to an anchored raft to watch the rest of the party arrive.
A highly recommended trip for total canoeing novices who want the excitement of plentiful easy rapids and don't mind the occasional swim. About 23 euro for the whole trip, including transport, equipment etc.
Great day :)
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