Descend the River Dordogne in a canoe
At the heart of the Dordogne Valley
Travelling by canoe is an excellent way of exploring the treasures of this river, and everyone is wanting to try it. There are lots of possibilities, with different departure points and durations. For this family trip, the 19 kilometres between Gluges and Pinsac mean that you can really enjoy yourselves and see everything you need to, and still make the most of the day. It is time to go to the Compagnie des Sports Nature for the instructions and the pre-trip introduction. Safety is the priority, and now you're ready to make this journey on the water.
The Dordogne is the only river in France to be listed as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
From the start, you are surrounded by the incredible, atmospheric scenery. The high, limestone cliffs surround you, and you glide along the river through this majestic panorama. Listen carefully, and you'll hear the peregrine falcons following your route down the river. A little further down, on your left, is the village of Montvalent, an old Mediaeval fortress which draws the eye with its superb buildings and its tower.
After you've passed the large pebble beaches, ideal to stop for a swim, you're already at Creysse.
You can stop to explore the three resurgences (Saint-Georges, Lombard, and Finou) of the famous underground river from the Padirac Chasm.
A pebble beach level with the campsite makes an easy stop to explore the village – it's well worth the detour. The Cracey, a stream that gave the village its name, runs through the village and was used to run the fortified mill. But the special feature of the village lies in its 12th-century church, with is twin apses. This very rare layout is unique in France.
The 16th-century market hall is original, with a pillar that was moved to allow traffic to pass. The little streets of the village are full of flowers, peaceful and full of charm. Climbing up a bit, you get a splendid view over the Dordogne Valley. It really would be a shame not to stop.
Little treasures of the Valley
While travelling down the river, you will pass the village of St Sozy on your right, and that of Meyronne with its beautiful buildings on your left. You will also spot the Sainte Marie Rock where you can get to the chapel along a track lined with box trees. You can even ring the bell there. Very quickly, you get to the high cliffs of Roc Coulon, where you plunge into exceptional surroundings once more. If you are lucky, you may see an Eagle Owl in this area.
These cliff walls are the nesting biotope for exceptional birds such as the Common Raven, the Eagle Owl, the Alpine Swift, and the Crag Martin
Picnic stop on the pebble beach
Lots of pebble beaches line the route and are good for swimming, but the one on the right bank after the Château de Belcastel is the ideal spot for swimming, as well as a picnic – and a siesta if you need one! Le concours de ricochets s’impose et s’il est vrai que dans ce décor la halte a tendance à durer, il faut quand même penser à regagner votre embarcation.
The resurgent river at Meyraguet
About 800m from Belcastel, you will see on your left cavities at the foot of the cliffs. One is accessible by canoe, the Meyraguet resurgence. If the idea appeals, you can go through the 1st section. There is no particular danger, and you don't need a light, but it is definitely not advisable to go further into the cave.
You will soon arrive at Pinsac, but a last look at the famous Château de la Treyne (4* Hotel-Restaurant) will give you a final great view.
Getting back is no problem – everything is organised to get you back to your starting point!
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
Voici les bonnes adresses de Cathy (Tourisme Lot) pour vivre pleinement votre expérience descente en canoë sur la Dordogne.
Découvrez notre sélection de séjours dans le Lot, pour passer de magnifiques vacances du côté de Rocamadour et de la Vallée de la Dordogne, un ensemble classé Grand Site Occitanie.
- By car: Gluges is 2hrs north of Toulouse. From Toulouse: A20 motorway towards Paris/Montauban. Exit 55 Beaulieu/Souillac then turn right on the Départemental road D803 to Martel, then take the D840 to Gluges.
- By air: arrive at Toulouse Blagnac International Airport, then travel by car as described above. Arrive at the Brive/Vallée de la Dordogne Airport then travel 22km to Gluges on the D820.