We have been visiting family in France for our summer holiday for the last three years and without doubt this is the highlight of our stay each year. Our conversation over dinner on our first night is always which day everyone will be around for our annual river race.
The day dawned with a clear blue sky and we packed a giant picnic and set off. After a little debate over teams we loaded up all our gear into our agreed kayaks and pushed away with our paddles amidst plenty of banter over who was going to win.
The lead group only made it round the first bend in the river before spotting a patch of beach and a jumping rock and had moored up. That was the perfect way to lighten our load, with a picnic for 12 disappearing in minutes!
After a few jumps from the rocks, including Farmer Nick which I’m gutted to have missed on camera, we set off for the next leg of our journey.
The weekend before we arrived they had had a tropical storm with two days of very heavy rain, this had swelled the river making the rapids great fun and the amount of paddle power required deduced apart from the effort of steering a sensible course through the rapids. There were screams of terror and joy from each kayak as we headed into these fast flowing sections and much laughter from any team misjudging the line and ending up crashing into a bank or beached on a central island.
There is one renowned rock which the children jump from each year, it is truly terrifying to me but irresistible to the kids. Mooring up the adults watched with baited breath as they swam over to the other side of the lake and scaled the banks to the top of the rock.
I had a disaster moment when Ally swam over to give Guy the Go Pro and dropped it half way. Thanks to a passing sunbather with a snorkel we were able to find it, I really felt I had seen the last of all my video footage and couldn’t thank him enough. Safely back in our boats it was onwards with the race, or in my case taking in the breathtaking beauty of the river and surrounding scenery.
Quite the most spectacular sight is rounding the corner leading to the Pont du Gard. This is the most incredible viaduct dating back to Roman times that can’t fail to impress. We moored up just beyond the bridge for a final swim and rock jumping. It was a joy to watch all the families paddling at the water’s edge and enjoying the later summer sun.
From here the river widens and it is a flat race to the finishing line. The whole journey is a few kilometres and quite hard going, though the beauty of the river makes it far more pleasure than pain. I have no doubt we will be back for more next year.
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“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.