Inn to Inn Guided Canoe Tours
Hand-crafted Canoe Tours
that combine the pleasures of paddling down beautiful rivers
with an insight into the history and natural history of the region
whilst we enjoy the local cuisine and stay in small Inns and B&Bs.
Tours from 5 Regions of France: Dordogne, Lot, Ardeche, Tarn and the Loire.
9 different Tours from 6 to 12 Days.
About Us & about our Tours
Join us for beautiful and tranquil Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe tours to the south of France.
Our aim is to provide easy canoeing so these tours are not for those seeking difficult white-water rapids or for those wishing to canoe long-distances. We paddle easy rivers through beautiful country-side suitable for families and those of a certain age who still remain active. Our Ardeche tour does have some small rapids which are short and sweet and can be easily viewed, assessed and portaged if necessary.
It should be noted that we will walk to the river-bank when possible and aim to use our minibus as little as possible - although it will always be available. Avid walkers may like to join me for morning walks before the canoeing day starts and, on our longer tours we have days dedicated to walking.
Each tour is fully described with a complete daily schedule and details of our Inns or B&Bs. We also have brochures of all our tours which you can download.
All our tours are fully guided. You will be accompanied on the river and trail by an experienced guide who knows the area and the rivers well. The second guide will accompany us in the background by driving our vehicle between lodgings and will be transferring our luggage, meeting us for lunch and generally being available as and when required.
If our group is larger than 7 then we will have 2 guides on the river and large groups above 14 will have 3 guides on the river.
Accommodation, Prices and Group Sizes
We stay in small and comfortable local Hotels, Chambre D'Hotes and B&Bs, which are often family run.
The tour prices include all transfers, canoe hire (and equipment), accommodation (with breakfasts) all lunches and all evening meals.
Small tours have a maximum group size of 9 people. That is 7 guests and 2 guides. Medium groups of up to 17 consist of 14 guests and 3 guides (2 of which are on the river). Larger groups can be accommodated by arrangement.
Canoe & Hiking Difficulty
The rivers we paddle on these tours are rated as easy to medium: in the usual classification system this is no harder than Class II. That is small and straightforward rapids from time-to-time, but mostly flat, green water. It is very suitable for novice canoers and children.
At most we shall paddle 12 miles in a day which will take approximately 5 hours. Generally we will canoe less than this distance and we will take a lunch break, and stop whenever we wish. As long as you are reasonably fit then the paddling should provide few problems. Remember we are canoeing downstream and letting the river do most of the work.
Everyday will will review the safety procedures for the water and we will provide paddling instruction for those that are novices and a revision for the more experienced. New paddlers need have no fear that we will leave them behind. The canoeing we do is not about racing down the river: it is about enjoying the environment and our surroundings. It is about enjoying ourselves.
The tours also include some walking and hiking. We try to avoid sitting in the small bus as much as possible! Again, as long as you are reasonably fit then these walks should provide no problem. In any case the walks are optional and you will always be offered a ride instead if you wish.
If you have any questions about the rivers or the terrain then please do email to ask. We have paddled these rivers and walked these trails many times.
Getting to the Meeting Point
On the first day of the Perigord and Cele tours we will meet you at the Brive train station at 1pm and if you do not arrive on this train we will stay until 2pm for the later train, trains take approximately 4 hrs from Paris Austerlitz and depart from there at about 9 and 10am. If the trains are delayed then of course we will wait. If trains are missed then hopefully you will contact us about the situation and we will make arrangements. From Brive it is a 40 minute drive to St Leon and Relais de Cote de Jor if you are on the Perigord Tour or a 1hr 20 min trip to the Cele Valley if you are on the Cele Tour. We can use Cahors station if preferred for the Cele Tour.
The usual meeting point for the Ardeche/Tarn Tour is the Avignon TGV station. We will meet at midday on the first day and return at midday on the last.
Montpelier TGV station is used for the Tarn Tour and Orléans TGV station for the Loire Tour.
Our usual rendezvous point for the Belgium Ardennes Tours is the Eurostar station at Brussels Midi. Again approximately midday pickup and return.
Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or on the day. Tickets purchased in advance are often much cheaper.
On the final day of the tour we will take you back to the station to catch a train about midday.
If we have made arrangements to meet you elsewhere, at one of the Regional Airports for example, then we will have organised the times for meeting at arrivals before the tour begins, as well as the return details.
When to go
April, May and June are beautiful times of year to visit the south of France The weather is almost always warm and sometimes as hot as high summer, although it is slightly more changeable so the chance of rain is slightly higher. It is very rare and unfortunate for a holiday to be ruined by rain in these months, although spring showers may occur.
In the spring in May and early June, the days are warm, but not hot, and the evenings are long.
It is a perfect time for walking and canoeing in the Dordogne, since the high summer can be rather hot for these activities. It is also the perfect time to visit the towns and villages that can get especially busy in the mid summer.
In the spring, especially, the countryside is more lush and the scenery even more beautiful, since the daylight is slightly less harsh than in the summer. The meadows are high with spring flowers and orchids may be seen in the hedgerows and verges. The early butterflies will be on the wing such as Marbled Whites and assorted Blues.
Along the river bank and woods we will see the flowering trees of False Acacia and Sweet Chestnut.
The summer months of July and August are, of course, the most popular times to visit the Dordogne and the Ardeche.
The weather is usually very good - temperatures are typically around 25-30 degrees, and rain is unusual although evening storms are quite common.
Across the Dordogne/Perigord region restaurants and attractions are all open and active, and many special events take place during these months including fairs, fêtes, outdoor concerts and films.
Many of the Dordogne towns and villages have an evening market once a week. Tables and chairs are set out in the village square and local producers will sell you everything you need for a highly enjoyable meal al-fresco.
In the summer months of late June and July the days are warmer and the evenings are still long. It may be hot enough to warrant a cooling swim in the river.
On the rivers themselves we will see ducklings and cygnets as well as a host of dragonflies and damselflies. The summer butterflies will also be on the wing and we may see Purple Emperors and Cleopatras. We will definitely see Swallowtails and we may even observe puddling where clouds of butterflies collect on the damp sand on the river bank.
In the early autumn days of September the days are still warm though the evenings are drawing in. We will see many fruits on the trees in the wild, such as Medlars, Crab-Apples, Quince and Guelder Rose. The dragons and damsels are still flying along with late butterflies.
By late autumn in October the days are a little cooler and the colours are beginning to show in the leaves of the trees. The evenings are well drawn in now.
We are not yet brave enough to go in winter!
The real reason is that many of the hotels and restaurants we use are closed for the season.
What to bring
On the River
Canoeing clothes including shorts, t-shirts, fleece and swimming things.
Rain clothes. It's a well known fact that if you bring these it doesn't rain and if you don't it does!
Hat and perhaps a Bandana.
River shoes, shoes that you don't mind will get wet.
Hiking shoes or boots for when we hit the trail. Lightweight is fine.
Off the River
Fleece or jumper or jacket for cooler evenings and long trousers etc.
Something nice for your evenings out!
Although we never need formal clothes.
Sunscreen or block.
Insect stuff. There are very few biting insects in this part of the world and very few mosquitoes. Best be safe though. Visitors from the USA should know that France has no Poison Ivy, but we do have Stinging Nettles.
Lip balms and moisturisers.
Water Bottle. Although we supply water it can get warm!
Drybag. This is a small water-proof bag to take in the canoe to keep your stuff in. We recommend one large enough for spare clothes and your waterproofs and then smaller ones for your valuables such as a wallet, phone, pad and camera.
Binoculars and camera.
Pocket Knife. Everyone like to whittle.
Books and journals and stuff.
We carry a First-Aid Kit both on the river and in the Minibus, but please remember to bring your medications and favourite remedies.
What we eat
If you have any particular dietary requirements or allergies then please inform us before the tour and we will adjust our menus accordingly and make arrangements where necessary.
During the day we will take a picnic with us on the river and find somewhere pleasant to have our lunch beside the river or on a small island.
Our picnics will comprise of fresh local breads, with local regional cheeses and charcuterie. We will also provide fresh raw and julienned vegetables, salad and some fresh seasonal fruit. To drink we will provide water and a local wine. When in the Perigord this could be a Pécharmant or a Bergerac, and whilst on the Célé we could try a Coteaux du Quercy or perhaps a black wine from Cahors.
If we are in Belgium then we will try the local beers.
In the evenings we will eat either at the place where we are staying or in a local restaurant in a village nearby. Every night all the guests and guides dine together. On the 12 Day trips we can organise a couple of evenings were we 'can be alone' if we want to..
In the Perigord & Lot the regional cuisine specialises in duck and goose and includes foie gras and truffles. Famous dishes include confits (slow cooked duck or goose), magret de canard (duck breast) and cassoulet (a bean stew with sausage and duck). The region is also known for pommes sarladaises (roast potatoes in garlic and parsley) as well as a variety of local cheeses, especially cabécou (a light goats cheese).
The area is also well known for its walnuts - we will see plenty of walnut orchards - and these feature in a number of salads and desserts. We will want to sample the apéritif Vin de Noix (Walnut Wine) and the Vin de Châtaignes (Chestnut Wine).
Of course in other regions we will taste the specialities it has to offer.
Canoeing & Canoes
All the canoes for the tours are provided by local outfitters and include paddles and a life-jacket. The price is included in the tour.
We use Old Town Canoes wherever possible which are paddled in tandem - with two people aboard (usually). If you prefer to paddle solo then this can be arranged. These canoes are especially suited for the calm water conditions we will be paddling on and are stable and safe. They allow plenty of room for yourself and your stuff.
Children under 7 yrs old (but over 5 yrs old) must paddle as a 3rd person, in the middle, of a tandem canoe. Children over 7 yrs old should paddle in tandem with an adult. Children will only be allowed to paddle together after we have observed them for a day or two. Life-jackets must be worn at all times.
The particular model is the Discovery 158 though not all models have the new seats with a back rest as shown on the link.
From time to time we have guests who wish to paddle a Kayak. We can arrange this for you if you prefer but we do stress that the rivers we canoe do not really warrant the use of a kayak and we feel tandem paddling in a canoe is the way to go.
Most of our guests have been canoeing before but we will insist on reviewing safety procedures at the beginning of paddling each day and revise paddling strokes for those who haven't paddled for a while or have paddled on lakes rather than rivers for example.
For those who have never paddled before their will be plenty of time for lessons as we go. These rivers are ideal places for learning.
If time and the inclination allows we can also practise other paddling procedures such as Eddy Turns, Peeling Out and Ferrying.
Our guests will not be expected to lift or carry canoes at any time.
Although the main focus of the tours will be on the canoeing we will have plenty of time for short walks and longer hikes.
Where possible we will walk to and from the river, although this is not compulsory.
In the appropriate season when early mornings are light we can opt to go for a pre-breakfast walk. The length and timing of the walk will depend on a consensus reached between those that wish to walk, how early we wish to rise and the time of year.
On the Célé River we are asked by the Friends of the Célé Association not to start canoeing before 11am. This is to allow the Fisherman some undisturbed time on the river. We will spend the intervening time between breakfast and 11am enjoying a walk.
Some of the trails we walk on form part of the network of long-distance paths that criss-cross France. These are known as Grand Randonees (GR) and are way-marked by a red and white flash. We may walk on the GR36 (which goes from Normandy to the Pyrenees) and the GR651 (a diversion of the famous Way of St. James (GR65) in the Célé Valley.
On the river we will see plenty of bird-life both on and around the water. We will see Ducks, Egrets, Swans, and Herons. We will also see Kingfishers, Wagtails, Dippers and Sandpipers. We will see Swallows and Swifts and Martins as well as various other birds crossing our path such as Woodpeckers, Jays and other crows as well as the almost invisible songbirds in the tree and hedges. Of the raptors we will see the Common Buzzard and possibly an Osprey or a Kestrel.
This part of France has a rich variety of Butterflies and we will see many familiar species (if you are from Britain). We will also see some rather more exotic species such as the two types of Swallowtail, the Cleopatra, the Banded Grayling and if we are lucky some rarer species such as the Large Blue or the Lesser Purple Emperor.
The river itself will provide many examples of the Dragonfly and Damselfly family. The delicate damsels include the Western Demoiselle, the White-Legged, the Orange Featherleg, the Blue Featherleg and various Bluets and Bluetails. Of the dragons we may see the Small Pincertail, the Yellow Clubtail, the Pronged Clubtail and the Common Clubtail amongst others.
We will also be able to see many flowers, especially early in the season before the meadows are cut, and these will include several orchids such as the Purple, the Pyramid, the Bee and the Lizard Orchids.
Of course we will also see many trees and shrubs along the river course and in the forests. We can have some fun trying to identify them.
Of the reptiles we will probably see lizards and hear frogs. We sometimes see a Grass Snake swimming in the river (harmless) and sometimes a Viper (the only venomous snake, which is small, 18 inches long, and not very poisonous).
The hardest things to see are the mammals. We have seen Nutria and Otters on these rivers and we've also glimpsed Red Squirrels and Mink and Martens along the banks. On the early morning walks we've encountered Foxes, Roe Deer and Fallow Deer. Badgers have only been seen at night in the headlights.
Wild-Boar have been seen, twice, both times very early in the morning.
We carry all necessary maps with us on the tours, but some, I know, like to have their own.
Perigord & Lot
This map covers the 12 Day 3 Rivers, 7 Day Perigord and 6 Day Célé Tours at 1cm per Kilometre
These maps cover the 12 Day 3 Rivers and the 7 Day Perigord Tours at 4cm to the Kilometre.
These maps are for the 6 Day Célé Trip, and the 12 Days 3 Rivers Trip also at 4cm to the Kilometre.
Ardeche & Tarn
These maps at 1cm to 1 Kilometre are for the 12 Day Ardeche/Tarn Tour, the 8 Day Ardeche Tour. The 2nd one is sufficient for the 6 Day Tarn Tour.
These two maps at 4cm to the Kilometre cover most of the rivers on the Ardeche Tours. Only the latter is required for the Tarn Tour.
These maps cover the region at 1cm to 1km.
TOP100 IGN 127 Orleans/Blois This map covers the stretch of the Loir we paddle and the upper Loire either side of Blois.
TOP100 IGN 133 Tours/Blois This map covers the Loire from Blois down to Saumur and the Cher from either side of Chenonceaux.
TOP100 IGN 139 Poitiers/Chatellerault This map covers the Creuse river either side of Le Blanc and the Parc Naturel Regional de la Brenne.
Garden of England
Many types of maps are available for this region but I recommend those produced by the United States Geographical Service (USGS). These and other types of recreational maps can be purchased here at Omnimap.
For the Vermont Tours: 1:250,000 maps covers about 120 x 70 (E-W x N-S) miles and these two covers the north and central regions of Vermont where our rivers are.
TNY2148 LAKE CHAMPLAIN, NY
TUS0656 GLENS FALLS L-185, US
The 1:100,000 maps covers about 50 x 30 (E-W x N-S) miles.
TVT0230 MOUNT MANSFIELD, VT
TVT0231 MONTPELIER, VT
TVT0229 RUTLAND, VT
Our River & Trail Guides, and Drivers & Instructors
Steven is our river and trail guide.
He’s been working these rivers for the past 12 years and has been paddling around 60 days a year in all that time.
When not taking guests on these trips Steve is often to be found on a trail somewhere with a camera in hand taking landscape shots and close-ups of butterflies.
Steve lives near Antwerp in Belgium and when at home he spends time attending to his vegetable and fruit garden.
In a former life Steve was a Software Designer and Developer.
Paul is our driver and river guide.
Paul specialises in the rivers of Vermont as these are on his doorstep but he has been coming over to France to paddle the Perigord and Ardeche regions of France since 2005.
Paul lives in upstate New York in the USA and can be found maintaining an old tractor and trying to make use of it in his large garden.
Paul works as a geologist, so do ask him about the rocks around us when paddling, specialising in the clean-up of environmental accidents.
Keith is our driver and river guide.
Keith has canoed and kayaked since he built his own boat whilst still at school. He paddles regulalry and currently has three vessels hanging up in his garage.
Keith lives in Kent in England, but travels all over Europe to find places to paddle & ride. His cycling tours are legendary and every summer he embarks on a gruelling 1000 mile, eight day ride to a distant corner of Europe.
Keith works as a Project Manager specialising in providing cabling to large developments. His work takes him all around Europe too: recently to Finland & the Netherlands.
Liz is our Yoga instructor.
She offers Inner Axis classes, workplace wellbeing sessions and private tuition in breath initiated movement - essentially yoga without the jargon.
Liz Reed was trained by Max Strom in the Inner Axis System at Europe’s largest yoga centre, Triyoga, in London, a qualification recognised by Yoga Alliance, and is fully insured to work in all settings. Breathing, movement, mindfulness and being kind to ourselves and others can help us towards more meaningful, happy and healthy living.
Liz divides her life between Norwich in the UK and Gran Canaria.
All transport during the trip, including pick up and return to the meeting point
All accommodation and breakfasts
All evening meals.
All picnic lunches, including drinks
All canoe and paddling equipment, including drinking water
Services of guides at all times during the trip.
Services of Green River Canoes before the trip.
But not include
Transport from home to the meeting point.
Personal expenditure such as laundry and evening drinks.
Entrance fees to museums, castles and gardens etc
To book a trip send your request to us via an email with the details of which trip, which dates and how many people. Or use the form on the Contact page. A deposit of 10% is required. The balance is due 60 days before departure.
If the dates you choose are already fully booked then we will suggest alternative dates or put you on a waiting list.
When a booking is confirmed and a deposit received you will be sent a full itinerary with complete details about the trip. Don't forget about travel insurance.
If you cancel before 60 days then you may re-schedule your trip for another date at no extra charge or we will refund 75% of your deposit.
If you cancel within 30 to 60 days of depature, we will refund 50% of the trip price, and if you cancel within 30 days of departure we will refund 10% of the trip price.
In the unlikely event of the trip being cancelled by us then everything will be refunded.
No refunds are possible for arriving at a trip late or leaving early.
Our trips run with a maximum of 7 guests (with 2 guides), or 14 guests (with 3 guides), unless a custom trip has been organised.
A trip needs a minimum of 4 guests to run. A trip with fewer person cannot be run unless a surcharge is accepted. Alternatively a full refund will be made or the trip re-scheduled.
Single travellers are very welcome on our trips. Generally we have two to a room and if you are willing to share then that's great.
If you do want to have a room to yourself then the surcharge is 35 Euros per night. This does not apply if an odd number of guests are with us and a single-room is inevitable.
If you come on the trip as a couple but one of the partners does not wish to paddle the rivers then it is certainly possible to make other arrangements.
At the least you can accompany the driving guide or we can arrange for you stay at the lodgings during the day or even find you some walks. If you like to fish then we can also find you a spot on the river-bank.
Children are welcome on the tour although the minimum age is 5 yrs old. Children under 7 yrs old must paddle with two adults. Under 12's are not allowed to paddle on their own. We provide life-jackets and recommend that they are worn at all times when on the water. That applies to adults too.
Everyone should be able to swim 25m minimum.
The discount for those under 16 is 25% for the first and 50% for others.
All river trips involve some risk and you have the responsibility to select a tour appropriate to your ability. It is very important that you have appropriate insurance that covers loss, injury and even death to yourself and third-parties. If you are from the UK then we advise that you become a member of the British Canoe Union: this automatically provides insurance cover. If canoe adventures are covered in your standard travel insurance arrangements then this is fine. We will try to provide advice on these matters if required.
All of the guides on the tour will also be suitably insured.
If any person impairs the welfare of another person on the tour or impedes their enjoyment of the tour then we will ask them to leave. A refund is not possible under these circumstances.
All disputes will be settled by laws and courts in the UK and Europe.
Private bookings can be arranged for any of our tours. You choose the number of people and the dates you require and we will do our best to accommodate you.
If you require a longer tour, or indeed a shorter one then we can discuss this too.
We can change the itinerary if you like and make room for other activities not mentioned here.
Everything can be talked about.
For emergency contact during the trip please use the numbers on the Contact Page. These will reach the guides in France immediately, or you can call the inns directly. France is an hour ahead of UK Time and 6 hours ahead of Eastern Time for visitors from the USA.
At the beginning of the tour we will exchange mobile/cell telephone numbers.
We will also provide you with a full itinerary before the tour which includes all the hotels addresses and contact details.
If you are driving then we will make arrangements for you to leave your car either at our mini-van hire place or at our first nights accommodation.
We will of course deliver you back to your car at the end of the trip. It may be possible for your car to come with us provided our driver can shuttle it and yours is the only car.
The fastest and most expensive way is a taxi, about 50€.
By bus take the Air France bus #4 to Gare de Lyon and then walk 5-8 minutes to Austerlitz across the river.
By train take the RER B to Gare du Nord, and either connect to Metro line 5 in the direction of Place d´Italie and exit at Austerlitz or get the RER A to Gare du Lyon and walk over the river to Austerlitz.
For help connecting via other Railway Stations in Paris please contact us.
Tips at restaurants are covered by service charges and included in the costs of the tours. Tips are not expected at hotels in Europe.
It is not necessary to tip the guides at the end of the tour.
Visitors from the European Union only require an ID card or a passport.
Visitors from other countries should check with their own Embassy and make sure that they have a passport that is valid beyond the length of the stay and a Visa if necessary.
If you have any other questions we would be delighted to hear from you. All the details are on the 'Contact' page where you can also sign-up for our quarterly Newsletter.