Canoeing Down the Dordogne

As some of you know, we went on a trip to France this summer. In the last installment, I shared a few photos of our week in Sarlat-la-Canéda, the epicenter of the Dordogne. In case you missed them, here are the first few articles about the trip:

Part One       Part Deux       Part Trois       Part IV

Part Five     Part Six      Part Seven      Part Huit    Part Neuf

Apparently, one of the more popular activities in the Dordogne is a canoe trip down the river. Having a total of three kids with us, we figured they would have a good time and we would all get a bit of exercise. That was essentially all the forethought that went into the planning which turned out to be a bit of an issue. We arrived at the river shortly after 10:00, to discover that there were set times to canoe, staggered 60-90 minutes apart. Yes, we just missed the 10:00 time and the next launch was 11:30. There was another company a short walk away; I jogged over to discover that they had the exact same launch schedule. Leave it to the French. I am as big of a lover of the French as anyone, but come on. Seriously? The exact same schedule? What happens if there is some disorganized schmo like me that comes along–set yourself apart, mon ami, how about a little effort….

There was absolutely nothing near the canoe outfit to do and if we drove off somewhere, given my luck, we certainly would have screwed it up and returned at 11:38. So we had to ‘improvise’ to keep the kids amused. We started looking for fish in the river.That lasted all of about 37 seconds.  The remaining hour or so involved answering the question “How much longer?” about 48 times.  Finally, we were able to get going and headed down to the launch spot. We were dropped off 14K up the river and we still did not have a plan. As I was helping to unload the canoes, the other adults were plotting deciding who was in which boat. Before I knew it, I was paired with our two boys–my wife was with her good friend and the other father was with his daughter. I had my nine and four year-old. Giddy-up.

Off we went.

The nine year-old was in front and he actually did a pretty good job when he was not complaining about the physical exertion (which was constant–as you see in the photo, he was taking one of his many ‘breaks’–can it be considered a ‘break’ if you spend more time not paddling?). The three year-old was very good, too, but there was a self-inflicted issue: I made the mistake of using my oar to splash him.  He thus spent every stroke trying to return the favor, which resulted in getting smacked in the head, leg, or hand every third stroke. It only drew blood once, so I counted myself rather lucky.

Here are some more photos of the trip.  By the way, 14K is a LOT longer than it sounds….

The wives flying solo:

The other two boats trying to stay as far away from us as possible:

Being a cyclist, I have a pretty good concept of ’14K’ on the road–it is just short of 10 miles and usually takes about 25 minutes to ride.  On the river, I had no clue how fast we were moving or how far we had gone.  We did stop for lunch for about 30 minutes, but as we approached the end of our third hour, I started to panic–I was sure that we had missed our end point. I figured we had to have passed it since, well, you walk at around 4 miles an hour and we seemed to be moving faster than the pedestrians (but they could have been French and therefore the effort level would be questionable). I was dreading the thought of turning around and having to paddle upstream–both the boys had long ceased being any real ‘benefit’ in the propulsion department. I was just about to get steaming mad at my wife (my pathetic excuse for a sense of direction only looks good when compared to hers) when we pulled up to the canoe rental area.

I think that might have saved my marriage….


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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9 Responses to Canoeing Down the Dordogne

  1. Wow looks awesome! I am hoping to get one last fall kayaking trip in this fall.


  2. aFrankAngle says:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful adventure! Cheers!!!


  3. I’m sure 14K is a lot longer than it sounds. A friend and I walked 10 miles last night, and I’m not sure which is worse – the tired feeling or the boredom! I would guess most people really don’t walk 4 miles per hour. I frequently do, and it’s a pretty good clip! Just walking leisurely would be much slower for most. The photos are awesome! Sounds like a fun day!


  4. Holy cow…beautiful…wow


  5. Pingback: Les Vacances d’Eté–Rocamadour | the drunken cyclist

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