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France 2023 Day 12 – Thursday 8th June Allier – Langeac to Vialette by Mike A

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France 2023 Day 12 – Thursday 8th June Allier – Langeac to Vialette by Mike A

So, we were having a great time but with not knowing the river that well or what the levels where, we couldn’t decide whether to do the Allier from the Montrisol down to Prades (G3 with 200m sections of rapids best done in kayaks as it can swamp canoes) or the section from Langeac (G1 with some G2) down. Another option was the restricted bit above Montrisol which is apparently no longer restricted.

After a chat, we decided that we were paddling as a team for all, so we would do the section that everyone was comfortable to do – Langeac down. What a crew, democracy and consideration. The other sections could wait for another trip.

So, we decided to go from Langeac to La Vialette – about 28km.

With campsites agreeing to let us leave cars in their car parks at put in and get out, we set off for a flattish paddle under a warm sun. Coming from a ww kayak background, I like a bit of flow, so the thoughts of flatwater paddling in the wide-open valley wasn’t my ideal trip – but how wrong I could be.

Despite the river being low, there was a continuous push to help us on our way. Also, despite being in the valley bottom, at times the river entered mini gorges and there was little signs of civilisation on the banks. Additionally, there were several rapids and glisseres (canoe slides) along the way – one glisere was quite sneaky as it spat you into a pool only to go straight over another drop. Another glisere was even sneakier, as the weir had broken so you didn’t / couldn’t go over the glisere as it was dry – paddle on!

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With several Cliffs (swim) and rope swings (swim) we eventually started to think about food. Landing on a campsite beach, one paddler began tucking into lunch whilst some swam, and others looked at the map to realise we were only 200m from a village (useful as someone hadn’t brought lunch – they were eating out!) So we launched and headed the 200m around the bend, do discover that the village was up a hill. Forget that, lunch on this next beach. Graham decided that he would head down to the next village which was said to be beautiful, and likely had restaurants. Zoom, he was off!

Suitably refreshed, the plastic boaters headed off through the gentle scenery and soon also arrived at the beautiful town of Lavoute Chillac. We spied Graham in what looked a most lovely restaurant terrace, so we went to join him for ice cream / chips. This is what paddling in France is about!

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Suitably refreshed again, we headed off through a fishing competition/training session, but unlike the UK we got no grief. I like this!

The miles passed by and all too soon we arrived at the get-out. Now, there isn’t a road across the river here on google maps/google satellite, but because a nearby suspension bridge cant cope with lorries they have built a bridge out of what looks like open-sided concrete boxes that the river goes through, with a road going over the top. No handrails, no sidewalks, no crash barriers, and designed so that the river can simply flow over the top if needed. Can you imagine that in the UK????

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Suitably paddled out, we headed back to the supermarket to get supplies, but as there was a van selling crepes, we just had to stop. MMMMMmmmmmmm

Got to love paddling in France!

Paddlers: Ian, Mike, Ruth, Martin, Nikki, Andy, Graham & Spongy

Click for more photos………….