To the Massif Central

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To the Massif Central

Post by Bev »

Im thinking of organising a trip to the Massif Central. Does anyone have any info on good canoe hire companies and camp sites etc. Looking to go at the end of May for just a week. Not going for a long time but a good time.


Steve B
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Post by Steve B »

Doesn't Pete Knowles' guide book have any suggestions? I haven't read it myself but I thought it included that sort of info.
Steve Balcombe

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Ed Lefley
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Post by Ed Lefley »

agree that fluffys guide is the best bet.

Have a look at the inland section, there's a bit there about the possible shortage of water, although with the amount of snow that is there it should all be good... fingers crossed as i'm heading out there for boatin in may as well

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Re: Knowles

Post by mharrall »

Why is he called Fluffy?


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Adrian Cooper
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Post by Adrian Cooper »

Fluffy is the name of the duck who sits on the front of the boat.

We stayed at Monistrol on the Allier. This was a fairly quiet site with very good facilities and reasonable cost. Very handy for the best section of the Allier (gr3+).

Definitely recommend Slime's book. You can plan your rivers from the comfort of your armchair and site yourself accordingly. Make sure you check a road map because the distance between some of the rivers can be quite long if you plan to take in several sections.

We did the Allier, Tarn and Lot, all excellent (bit too much flat on the Lot but made up for by some large features). The more southerly rivers, Orb and Herault look really good but again there is the travelling. I am saving them for next year.

Have fun


Pete K


Post by Pete K »

Why is he called Fluffy?

Well, what else could you call such a nice warm friendly fluffy duck?

On the other hand, it could just be a nasty cynical marketting ploy ?

Thanks for the nice comments on my White Water Massif Central guidebook. I agree, my sources say that if there is a draught this summer, then the river to head for is probably the Allier - they are likely to hold the water back until peak summer to give maximum top up for cooling water for the nuclear power stations in the Loire downstream..

Good Paddling,

Pete Knowles, aka Slime.

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Jerry Murland
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Post by Jerry Murland »

Yeah, second that, Massif Central Guidebook is good. We are heading over to the Allier on June 10th, glad to hear there might be some water!

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Post by andywalker »

Levels were really good last year as they were emptying the barrage on the Allier - anyone any idea on where to get the info on when it will be full enough for a normal summer release -will 2006 be o.k. ?

And thanks again to Pete for the book - it's proved invaluble over the last few years - back off to the Orb and the Herault again this year - the gorge run on the Herault is great...

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Brendan J Moore
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Post by Brendan J Moore »

Take a look here for rentals: They will hire boats for use on other rivers, but you need to build up a relationship with them first, by maybe going on a standard trip, and shuttles etc will be down to you on non-standard trips.

A lot of the boats they hire, particularly on anything above G1, are cheap and nasty, though very durable and perfectly adequate for a giggle. If you contact them in advance and can prove you have experience most of them will have a couple of Old Towns or similar tucked away. (Some people wouldn't rave about Old Towns either, but all things being relative...). However they still might not be keen on hiring those if the water's low. Make sure you let them know you want canoes rather than sit-on-tops, as that's the bulk of their trade these days. They'll also put you in touch with local campsites.

There's more useful info on the Ardeche and surrounding rivers here: and a handy guide to levels here: If these rivers have water then many of the others draining off the Massif will too, though be aware of different catchments.

This map is really handy for seeing the different grades of paddling available and their relative locations: Take note of what Adrian says about the distances between rivers, and be aware that some of the routes over the Massif are tortuous and slow.

If you are looking at the Ardeche, this campsite: ... ndexa.html , whilst not the cheapest or best for facilities, is right on the river just 50 yards paddle under the arch to the main rapid, meaning you can fall out of bed and go play :-)

Slime's book is very good for coverage of other areas as well as the Ardeche.

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Adrian Cooper
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Post by Adrian Cooper »

Over the past week I have been gathering reports on the Allier levels. My brother in law spoke to the local Marie, I spoke to a local raft company in Monistrol and another in Langeac returned my email. All of them confirm that there will be water as usual in the Allier over the summer.

We're setting off in a fortnight. If we have had duff information, I will let you know.

If we run out of good rivers in the Massif, can anyone suggest sensible rivers in the southern Alps or Provence suitable for traditional open canoes, grade 2-3-3+. Already put the Durance on the list as far as the Rab.

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Re: To the Massif Central

Post by username Chris S »

Loved this book - had lots of adventures with it down there.
Off to do the Tarn again end of next month, this time with the packraft.

The author contacted me recently about a new edition, hopefully with one of those lovely retro poster covers he's been doing recently. ... f-central/

(13-year-old thread resuscitation - is that a UKRGB record?)

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Re: To the Massif Central

Post by MarkL »


If you got sorted then great but if not, we’d be happy to help with proper boat rental.

All the best.

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Re: To the Massif Central

Post by scottdog007 »

A group of us did this a few years back and we were expecting to find it too difficult so planned to be a long way from the Dam. But not the case, during the day the release would be just 10%.

We had a French speaker with us and asked the dam operators how we could find out when the release would be and they said they were only given 1 hours notice themselves to do the release.

They also said they normally did the main release during the night and turn it off in the morning.

So we paddled on 10% release for the week. One section was a nice one but at the end had a long flat section so was a real bumber. I think there is a rule where you need to be off the river before 6pm as it reverts over to the fishermen. And we got caught out on the long flat section and took to 7pm to get off.

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