Although the Languedoc Roussillon region is best known for its splendid Mediterranean coastline, travel a little inland and you will find a totally different character with plenty to add a bit of variety to the ubiquitous bucket and spade holiday.  Especially in the north of the region as the roads climb into the hills of the Parc Régional de Haut Languedoc you will find river gorges aplenty!  And of course if you head west towards the Pyrénées you will also find increasing opportunities for water based activities.

Canoe Kayapuna

Description: This company is one of those where the main base is at the arrival point and they drive you to the departure point. We much prefer this approach because it means you don’t have to try and reach a pre-agreed destination at a pre-agreed time….you have much more freedom to relax and go at your own pace.

Location: Just outside St. Guilhem-le-Desert on the road to Aniane.  St. Guilhem-le-Desert is a UNESCO listed site and classed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.

General Info: Tel: 04 67 57 30 25 for information and reservations.  Non-swimmers and children under 5 are not accepted.

Our recommendations: Make sure you take a pair of old trainers.  And perhaps a towel so you can dry off after a swim at one of the isolated beaches on the river.  Don’t forget suncream!  Make sure you leave time to visit St. Guilhem-le-Desert before or after canoeing – perhaps for a dinner to recover from your exercise!

For the children: An ideal 3km trip is available for their first canoeing experience.

Canoe La Vallée des Moulins

Description: A traditional canoeing centre offering a day’s canoeing through the Gorges de L’Herault. A waterproof container is provided to enable you to take cameras and a picnic (it’s great to stop by the riverside for a rest and break into a baguette!). You are able to choose between a short and easy course or longer more challenging courses (up to 32km over 2 days!). Don’t forget suncream!

Location: Take the D986 north out of Montpellier.  When you reach St Martin-de-Londres follow signs for Centre Ville and then after passing the village centre (opposite the restaurant “Les Muscardins”), turn left onto the D122 towards Causse de la Selle.  The canoeing centre is just the other side of Frouzet at the Pont de Bertrand.

General Info: Open from 9.30AM each day.  For further info call 04 67 73 12 45 or check their website.   Reservation is advised in peak season.  €36* for a 2 person canoe.

Our recommendations: Take old trainers and set out early so you’re not having to push yourself too hard to make the pre-arranged meeting place/time.

For the children: Non-swimmers will not be allowed.

Also in the same area: operating from a base in Ganges.

Canoe-Kayak Tarassac

Description: There are 5 different courses on offer from 5 – 20km in length. Parts of the course have quite strong currents and small rapids so you are advised to check its suitability for your skill level carefully with the organisers before setting off.

Location: Take the D909 north from Béziers and then the D908 towards St Pons.  Parking is on the left, 100m before the bridge crossing the river at Tarassac.

General Info:   The shortest course costs €32 for a single canoe or €20 for a Kayak.  Visit their website for more information and phone ahead to make reservations on tel: 04 67 97 74 64.

Our recommendations: Make sure you take trainers.  And a picnic for a rest half way!  Don’t forget suncream!  If it’s your first time we would recommend that you try a shorter route as it can take a surprisingly long time, especially in high season when the rivers aren’t in spate.

For the children: Only children over 8 years old that can swim.  For the under 12s we would recommend that you only take the shortest courses as a first step, or you can try a one hour canoe rental just on still water.

Alet Eau Vive White Water Rafting

Description: We never imagined this could be so much fun! Our 12, 15 and 18 year olds had great fun (highlight of the holiday!). Even our 8 year old daughter enjoyed the trip. Alet Eau Vive provide you with a wet suit, the rubber raft and an instructor. You will be driven to the starting point and collected at the finishing point. Takes about 1.5 hours.

Location: On the D118 about 1km to the south of Quillan at Belvianes.

General Info: The trip costs €30* for an adult, €27* for a child.  Limited English spoken.  Tel: 04 68 69 92 67 for reservations.

Our recommendations: You need to take an old pair of trainers.  Book in advance in high season although there is still the possibility to get a slot on the same day.  Also there are plenty of other operators along this section of river so if you don’t get space here, try elsewhere.

For the children: The lower section is not suitable for below about 12 years of age as you need to hold on tight and row hard at the same time!  Probably not feasible below about 7-8 years of age.

*All prices are approximate, please check with the operator.