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10 of the most effective locations in France for paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing | Canoeing and kayaking holidays



Coast hugging, Bonifacio, Corsica

After I first visited Corsica, I hiked down the backbone of the Corsican mountains, barely seeing the ocean aside from glimpses from a chook’s eye perspective. This time, as I hugged the shoreline, dipping out and in of sea caves, I felt as if I used to be winding via the arteries of Corsica. This route begins from Piantarella, simply east of Bonifacio on the southern tip of the island. It’s a sheltered lagoon, a misleading idyll earlier than you head out into open water, fringed by the northernmost islets of the seabird-heavy Lavezzi Islands. As you paddle west alongside the coast, the cliffs get larger and the coast is so haphazardly splintered that it appears to be like as if somebody has taken a sledgehammer to it. On the finish of the route, simply earlier than Bonifacio, is a rare cave, the Grotte de Saint-Antoine, with an nearly good circle carved into the roof and a tiny sliver of sand the color of shortbread behind it. Permit for half a day not less than: this route is the higher a part of 9 miles there and again.
A Cheda, simply exterior Bonifacio, has a backyard filled with palms and wall creepers and double rooms from 150

The calanques of Cassis, Côte d’Azur

The Calanques are deservedly fashionable however you’ll be able to nonetheless discover a peaceable inlet if you happen to arrive by sea. {Photograph}: alxpin/Getty Pictures

A loop route from Cassis on the Côte d’Azur goes previous a number of the prettiest surroundings I’ve ever paddled. The Calanques nationwide park, simply east of Marseille, is a 12-mile stretch of limestone cliffs interspersed with steep, rocky inlets the place the turquoise water glows as if it comes from a glacier slightly than the Mediterranean. It’s deservedly fashionable, a lot in order that vacationer numbers on the mountain climbing trails which skirt the calanques have been restricted, however arriving by sea you’ll be able to nonetheless discover a peaceable inlet to your self. Tunnel-like caves dart out and in of the cliff like warrens made by burrowing rodents. Up above, climbers deal with vertiginous ascents on limestone produced from tens of millions of years of compressed fish bones and shells.
The Greatest Western in Cassis is nice worth and couldn’t be higher situated, a two-minute stroll from the ocean, from €90. Excessive-speed trains run from Paris to Marseille, a 40-minute drive or 20-minute prepare journey from Cassis


Alpine paddling, Annecy, Haute-Savoie

The waters of Lake Annecy are among the many cleanest in Europe. {Photograph}: Hemis/Alamy

There’s a purpose why Annecy had France’s first paddleboard membership: this lake, 26 miles south of Geneva, was made to be paddled and kayaked. It’s additionally nice for freshmen, being Europe’s cleanest lake, so falling in is much less of a fear – if you happen to’re paddling throughout the summer season. Each January it’s house to the coldest paddleboard race on the planet, the GlaGla Race, with distances of both 4 or 8½ miles throughout water that hovers barely above freezing. It’s like an icy sport of “the ground is lava”, and plenty of rivals do it in fancy costume. To paddle Annecy in additional clement circumstances, when the mountains are inexperienced and paragliders pepper the skies, I like to recommend launching from Doussard on the southern finish of the lake, the place it’s a lot quieter.
Hôtel Allobroges serves a slap-up breakfast buffet, from 80 room solely, 92 B&B. Annecy is effectively served by buses and trains from Geneva or Paris

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The market gardens of Amiens, Normandy

The hortillonnages had been house to market gardens which provided the city of Amiens with fruit and veg. {Photograph}: Hemis/Alamy

The city of Amiens is legendary for its hortillonnages, a community of small, cultivated islets that had been house to market gardens, supplying the city with contemporary fruit and veg. At present the hortillonnages might put the Chelsea flower present to disgrace with their waterside shows. This paddle makes a convoluted loop with many twists and turns, and begins from the Amiens suburb of Rivery. The waterways that run via the hortillonnages is perhaps muddy rivers, tiny streams barely large sufficient to suit a paddle, or large ponds. Each flip appears like a discovery, as you push via the curtain-like fronds of weeping willow to find a pair of brightly painted flowerpot males on the finish of somebody’s backyard, or a suspicious-looking sheep peering out via the brambles. There are many eating places too, and Ôjardin, proper on the water, hires punt-style rowing boats. As you paddle in direction of the River Somme, on more and more widening waterways, the spire of the biggest cathedral in France, Notre-Dame d’Amiens, is clearly seen on the horizon.
Household-run guesthouse Une Maison en Ville gives rooms in a nineteenth-century townhouse. Amiens is round 1hr 20min by prepare from Lille and Paris

Flow in Lyon

Saint-Rambert-l’Île-Barbe within the Saône. {Photograph}: Joerg Hackemann/Alamy

Landlocked Lyon is nowhere close to the ocean, however it has some implausible paddling. Two rivers converge at La Confluence within the metropolis centre, the Rhône and the Saône. The Rhône is without doubt one of the largest rivers within the nation and sees much more boat site visitors. It’s doable to paddle on stretches of the river additional north, however since there are such a lot of dams on the Rhône, I want paddling on the Saône, notably the realm simply north of town centre, between Rochetaillée-sur-Saône and Île Barbe, an island with a Benedictine abbey. The primary abbey on this island was constructed within the fifth century. Peniche (barge) bars and eating places on the Rhône are nice for a post-paddle pint.
Villa 216 has two visitor rooms in a manor home relationship from 1890. TGV trains from Paris Gare de Lyon take beneath two hours


To the lighthouse, Plouguerneau, Brittany

Île Vierge, Plouguerneau. {Photograph}: Hemis/Alamy

Brittany’s rugged surroundings and fierce Celtic pleasure remind me of Cornwall, my house. The climate modifications each 5 minutes – irritating at occasions, as no sooner have you ever dried off than it suggestions it down once more. The ocean off the uncovered north-west coast is tempestuous and at all times altering, waves crashing on cracked black rocks that appear to be frostbitten knuckles alongside icing sugar sand. A five-mile loop paddle from Lilia, within the commune of Plouguerneau, takes you out to Île Vierge and the tallest lighthouse in Europe. The opaline inside appears to be like like marble from an architectural design journal, however really it’s produced from sheep’s bones, left over from when the previous residents of the island, a bunch of monks, tried unsuccessfully to maintain a flock right here. When seas are calm, that is a simple sufficient paddle for novices.
Norzh Ecogîte is a picket lodge that appears prefer it was constructed from the spoils of the ocean, from 65. Plouguerneau is a 50-minute drive from the ferry terminal at Roscoff

Anna Richards is the writer of Paddling France (Bradt Journey Guides £19.99). To help The Guardian and Observer, order your copy at Supply fees might apply.

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