Each year on our family holiday to France one of the highlights of the week is kayaking down the Gardon. This is our 4th year and I was worried it may have lost its appeal. I couldn’t have been more wrong, old rivalries and competitive family banter kept the day as fun filled as ever.
Let the adventure begin
Just to kayak the 8km from the start to the collection point would take 2.5 hours, however we always manage to spin it out into a full day trip.
Half the fun is in stopping to moor up and swim along the way, jump from the rocks and enjoy a picnic. Sometimes it feels like we have only just begun paddling again before someone spots another good stopping place. Every year their favourite jumping places beckon and the confidence of their jumping increases. It certainly makes jumping from the Coombe Mill Bridge look rather tame!
The picnic I make beforehand seems to vanish in minutes, but kayaking is hungry work!
Pont du Gard
One place we always make time to stop and swim is at the famous Pont du Gard. It is such an impressive site as you turn the corner and see the elaborate viaduct towering overhead. There is actually parking there and many day trippers are lining the banks too enjoying a family day, it takes all our best kayaking to navigate between the swimmers with much calls of “Attention, Pardon” as we skim by.
It’s all about winning!
After the Pont du Gard it is a long row along the open waters of the Gardon to the finishing line. By tradition we are always with ‘Kayak Vert’ which is the last stop. As usual it was a battle for the finishing line between us all with Team Ally, Clio and Jed winning.
While waiting for the bus to take us the 8k upstream back to the car we jumped in for one last swim together with much laughter at the funny moments of the day from a person overboard, a kayak with a paddle floating off, who became stuck in the reeds or beached by choosing the wrong course.
Our 4th visit certainly hadn’t lost its appeal and I’m sure we will be back for a new family challenge in 2017.
Tips for kayaking on the river Gardon
Wear swimwear as it always gets wet inside the boats.
Life jackets are issued though the river isn’t very deep in most places.
The trip is suitable for all ages from age 3 upwards.
There are waterproof barrels issued with each kayak for keeping valuables and clothes dry.
Take a picnic it is hungry work and plenty of water.
Going in a group makes it competitive and good fun.
Average fitness is fine, all my children managed and I had no issue with little arm strength, the current does half the work for you!
Coaches leave from Collias where there is a free car park and return you to your car at the end.
Prices are around 16 Euros each so it isn’t cheap but is a great day out for all the family.
The river section includes passing through the famous Pont du Gard.
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