Canoeing in the Dordogne

A must do activity on your family holiday in the Dordogne is a canoe trip.  As you might imagine in an area so blessed with beautiful rivers, there is a wealth of choice available for a pleasant trip in a canoe.  You should choose between the river Dordogne and the river Vézère – the latter is smaller and less dramatic but has the advantage of being a lot quieter.

There are several companies offering canoeing in the Dordogne – we suggest that you check what they offer. Especially you should consider the distance between the start and finish points.  During the summer months when the river is slow flowing you may expect to comfortably canoe 2 km per hour (for young children and older folk this is a realistic estimate, you could probably do more if you are fit and don’t stop too often).

Our recommendation is to go to Le Soleil Plage on the Dordogne.  This is near Vitrac, to the south of Sarlat.  The people running this canoeing company are really friendly and helpful.  And there are several advantages with this choice:

– firstly you can canoe past many of the best sights of the Dordogne (La Roque Gageac, Domme, Castlenaud, Marquessac….).

– secondly you have the possibility to stop halfway at Castelnaud for lunch (drag the canoe onto the left bank) – here you will find facilities, a supermarket where you could buy your lunch and even a restaurant if you want something more formal.

– and if you have any non-canoers in your party, they will easily be able to meet up with you here.

We recommend 6 hours to complete this course really comfortably (starting at Le Soleil Plage, finishing at Bezenac) although we actually managed it in 3.5 hours with a temperature of 43deg C!

Canoeing on the Vézère

One other option you might like to consider is provided by Canoe Valley Vézère.  Firstly they offer canoeing on the Vézère.  Secondly they drive you to the start point of the course and you canoe back to the base……traditionally you canoe from the base and are driven back to the base at the end of the day.  You may prefer the Canoe Valley Vézère approach – at the end of a hot day it’s not so pleasant cramming into a minibus, also sometimes it can be stressful wondering if you will arrive at the pick up point in  time for the return journey.

However it is a matter of choice.  We would still recommend Le Soleil Plage, whilst Canoe Valley Vézère has also been recommended to us (see panel below).  There are many other companies you can choose from as well…..if you have good experience of others, please let us know.

Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to the Dordogne: