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Kayaking in France: A First-Timer’s Guide

France has long been a favorite destination with kayakers. With an incredible coastline and countless rivers and lakes to explore, France has something to offer kayakers of all levels and abilities. Whether you want a gentle family day out on one of France’s impressive rivers, taking in the views, or you want to push your paddling limits on some of the country’s wilder routes, there are plenty of options for everyone. 

When you are choosing where to launch your in France, it’s important to consider the abilities of everyone in your group. There are plenty of tour companies that can guide you through some stunning stretches of coast and awe-inspiring waterways. If you want to go it alone, there are many places where you can rent gear from and inquire about the conditions before you head out to ensure the safety of you and your group on the water. 

Let’s take a look at some popular French paddling locations that you should consider for your next European adventure. 

Ardeche Gorge

In the southeastern corner of France, is one of the most spectacular kayaking destinations anywhere on the planet. Spanning a spectacular thirty-kilometer stretch, paddling along the turquoise waters of the Ardeche Gorge will take you under the jaw-dropping natural stone bridge, Pont D’Arc and depending on your ability, and the time of year, offer you the chance to unleash your inner adventure on class I and class II rapids. 

Loire Valley

The tranquil water of the Loire Valley makes for the ideal family kayaking adventure. With plenty of kayak providers offering rentals for a few hours or multi-day guided trips, you can take your paddling as far as you are able in the Loire Valley. Keep yourself sustained with fresh local produce and wine from the area and sit back and relax as you enjoy the placid waters here. 

The Dordogne

A well-known tourist hot spot in the south of France, Dordogne has long been welcoming visitors from all over the world. Spanning an impressive four hundred and eighty-three metres from its source to where it meets the ocean at the Gironde estuary, the Dordogne river valley is home to the third-longest river in western France. High limestone cliffs line the banks in parts while chateaus can be seen seemingly perched above the tree line as you paddle along .


No trip to France is complete without sampling some of the country’s world-class wines. The Bordeaux region is one of the most and also offers excellent kayaking opportunities. In fact, you can tie the two experiences together, allowing you too paddle along the Gironde and other nearby rivers, sampling the local wines as you go. Exploring the Aquitaine region of France from your kayak is an experience not to be missed. 

Southern Alps

For the more experienced kayakers out there who are seeking a real adrenaline rush, is the place to be. The fast-paced rivers in this region offer some of the best white water kayaking in Europe. Demanding and technical, rivers like the Guil, Ubaye, Bonne, Souloise and Durance, are all located near each other and attract avid paddlers from all over the world who want to conquer these iconic routes.

Find Your Own Slice Of French Paddling Paradise

If you are planning your first trip to France, be sure to take the time to research different locations that will suit your paddling style and ability. With so much kayaking potential on offer, there are countless destinations you can explore by paddle power. Visit one of the locations listed above or take the road less travelled to find your own little slice of addling paradise and make your maiden voyage to France a success.

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