8 Day Allier Tour
This is a 7 Night, 8 Day tour in which we canoe down the Allier river for several days. We paddle through a basalt Gorge and downstream through a beautiful green valley. The upstream sections are bouncy and fun whilst lower down the river becomes calmer. We can paddle any number of days and can save the more strenuous parts for later in the week. The region also has fabulous hikes: including the start of the Way of St. James and the Robert Louis Stevenson trail as well as more local walks.
The dates for this tour are not fixed.
Choose your own if you are group of 4 or more.
Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
Full minibus support throughout
Transfer to & from Arrival/Departure point
All accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
All breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
Canoe the stunning Allier Gorge and raft a Class 5 section
All canoes, paddles & life-vests
The price is €2085 per person.
Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request. A private tour for 1 or 2 persons can be arranged with a surchage.
The tour meets on the first day & leave on the last day from Puy-en-Velay Railway station at about midday or at close regional airports by arrangement.
The Allier river, in it`s upper stages is more technical than our usual rivers and has rapids which are described as 2+ or 3. The rapids are fun and not continuous so that there are long stretches between them. Several weirs, with chutes, also have to be negotiated. The lower stretches are easier with quicker water patches rarely above grade 1. We`ll suggest that you paddle a lower section first before tackling the upper stretches.
If the group is in the mood we can also do a mornings rafting on one particular stretch, have a riverside picnic and then paddle further downstream in the afternoon.
The emphasis on this trip is to enjoy the rich history and natural history of the region from the unique viewpoint of the river.
At some point we will stop for a fabulous picnic lunch and in the evenings we will enjoy dinner in small family run restaurants or in the hotels where we are staying - or self-catering if this is the option you`ve taken.
You will be accompanied on the river by an experienced river guide who will make sure you see all the interesting places along the way. If necessary we can provide top-up/reminder paddling lessons if it's a while since you paddled.
The Allier river flows north in the Massif Central region of France between the Auvergne and the Velay in a area famous for its volcanoes: many of the famous villages and towns are placed on volcanic plugs. It flows for about 100km until it joins the Loire which eventually flows west to the Atlantic.
We will visit the villages and chateaux along the way.
Day 1. Arrival and Greetings
You will be met at our arranged meeting point by our guides for your transfer to the Allier valley. This is usually Le Puy-en-Velay Station for those guests arriving by train from Paris.
Alternatively arrangements can be made for arrivals at regional airports: Lyon, for example.
We will meet you off the train that arrives about midday. The drive to Lavoute-Chilhac in the Allier valley takes about 60 minutes. We will stop here for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. It is a 10 minute drive from here to our accommodation, or a 45 minute walk instead.
On our arrival at tour accommodation (small hotel or gites) we will make our evening arrangements and relax before dinner.
Day 2. An explore of the Tarn Gorge
Today we shall hike inside the Gorge of the Allier river and explore the regions unique geology.
Unlike most of our rivers, which flow through Limestone gorges, the Allier flows through a famously volcanic region - currently dormat of course!
The Allier Gorge is of Basalt and in many places we can see the characteristic hexagonal columns that you may have seen at the Giant's Causeway (Northern Ireland) or on Staffa (in Scotland).
We will also visit the local villages perched on volcanic plugs and see how the local stone has ben used and the local geology exploited.
Day 3. The First Day canoeing the Allier
Today we will paddle the Allier river from Lavoute-Chilhac to Brioude, a distance of 24km, stopping for lunch at La Vialette.
Day 4. The Second Day on the Allier
We will paddle today from Langeac to Lavoute-Chilhac, which is about 17km. We'll find somewhere to picnic along the way.
Day 5. A Rafting and Canoeing Day
In the morning we can raft on the section of river between Monistrol and Prades with a local guide to take us through the Grade 3 to 5 rapids.
After a riverside lunch we will exchange the raft for canoes and paddle the afternoon down to Langeac, a distance of about 15km.
Day 6. Into the Hills
Today we take a day off the river to do some hiking. We have many choices. perhaps a section of the GR65 (Way of St. James) from Monistrol, perhaps the GR70 (Stevenson Trail) or any number of local walks that include the river gorge or the volcanic plateau.
We could also visit local villages, several of which are listed in the 'Le Plus Beaux Villages de France'.
Another alternative is to view the river by riding the train from Langogne to Langeac - the railway follows the Allier through the Gorge (no road) and we can look down on stretches of river that we have rafted and paddled.
Day 7. The Final Day canoeing on the Allier
Our last paddle on the Allier as we go downstream from Brioude, which we can visit first, down to Auzac. This is an easy and relaxing stretch of river and we can take our time and picnic wherever we wish.
Day 8. Departure and Farewells
After a leisurely breakfast we will return to Le Puy-en-Velay in time to catch the midday train to Paris - unless we have made other arrangements with you.
The accommodation for this tour has not yet been finally decided. We are considering offering the opportunity on this tour to go for a single base self-catering option - this would probably be in a local gîtes, which is a hired villa, which usually has to be hired from Saturday to Saturday. Obviously some have more space and better facilities than others: a swimming-pool for example.
We have not yet finalised our choice of hotels for this tour should you wish to go for our tradition Inn-to-Inn Hotel and B&B accommodation style.