The organisation of a canoeing or kayaking downstream trip.

Those who have never attempted a downstream river trip in a canoe, a kayak or a raft, must certainly ask themselves: How is it done? and they must also think about the practical aspects of its organisation. For a successful river trip, this is the first question that must be addressed.

First you have to reserve your downstream river route, at least by the day before, but preferably several days in advance in the summer season. This can be done by telephone, fax or simply by visiting La Minoterie on your arrival. You will have to choose your craft (kayak or canoe), your river route (indicating your requirement of either a half-day or a day’s downstream trip), and you may have to ask to be accompanied by an instructor.

The day before, and at the hour that you have specified, you park in one of the designated parking spaces near the centre and go to the reception desk at la Base de loisirs de la Minoterie.

The main hours available in the summer season are:

  • 9.00am for a downstream trip from Vernéjoux to Uzerche (half day) mornings only
  • 9.30am for a downstream trip from Peyrissac to Uzerche (full day)
  • 1.30pm for a downstream trip from Vernéjoux to Uzerche (half day) in the afternoon

First of all you will have to sort out several administrative details:

  • You will have to fill out a form, where in particular you will have to certify that you are able to swim. You keep the second copy of the form, which amongst other things shows what la Base de la Minoterie has committed itself to providing adequate equipment and insurance, etc. and provides some advice for the downstream river trip (see also this website: advice for those undertaking canoeing or kayaking downstream river trips).
  • Pay the fee for your downstream trip. You will be insured from that moment onwards. All you have to do when you get back is simply give back your equipment.

After going to the reception, your individual equipment will be handed out to you (a paddle and a life jacket in your size).

If you are in a canoe, a waterproof barrel can be provided (included in the price of the river trip). The barrel can be used to store a picnic for a day’s downstream excursion, a water bottle or a gourd, extra clothes (cagoules for example), sun cream, etc. Kayaks don't have room for a waterproof barrel.

If you have glasses, they can be attached with a simple piece of string, so that they don’t get lost in the event of capsizing (the boat turning upside down) during the trip downstream.

If you are not already in your canoeing outfit, you can get changed in the changing rooms provided at the centre. You can leave your dry things in your car, ready to change into on your return. In the case of a downstream trip from des Gorges de la Vézère, as the shuttle journey is quite long, it is recommended that you put your change of clothes into in a sports bag which will stay in the minibus that you will find on your arrival at des Gorges.

What should you wear for a downstream trip? Nothing very special:

  • A swimsuit and T-shirt, plus maybe some shorts;
  • A light raincoat if the weather is uncertain and the temperature is variable;
  • A woolly jumper if it is cold (wool conserves heat even when damp, unlike cotton), or better still: A sweater or polo-neck in the very light technical material for sports produced by Helly-Hansen;
  • A hat or cap if the weather is warm;
  • water-resistant shoes, an old pair of trainers for example.

Your boat, canoe or kayak, has been loaded onto a trailer, or is already at the departure point.

You take your place on the minibus which will take you to the river launch point. This shuttle journey lasts about 15-30 minutes. The river routes from Peyrissac to Uzerche and from Vernéjoux to Uzerche will take you to La Base de loisirs de la Minoterie; For the other river routes, you need to take another shuttle bus to get back to the centre.

Once the minibus arrives at your departure point, it may be necessary to unload the boats if they were behind you and then bring them to the waterside.

River launch at Vernéjoux

A bit of last minute preparation: Attach the water barrel onto the boat; attach your life-jacket, etc. .

Generally speaking, you are in such a hurry to set off that you don’t pay too much attention to your instructor’s advice.

You're at one with the river at last. Enjoy the ride!