As in past years, Spring 2016 saw many Open Canoe Association members heading out to the Drôme for Europe's premier open-canoe rendezvous. As ever, a few headed out before or stayed on afterwards to maximise their time in France.
At the Festival, Matt Thompson of Wilderness Canoe was again on the volunteer staff team at this years Open Canoe Festival. Amongst other things, this year saw him instructing in photography: a tribute to exceptional artistry at an event organised by a professional in Adventure Photography. The above album of images from this year's trips includes shots of many OCA members, and shows why he was given this role!
Canoefest regular Ian Purkis was also running workshops on the Drôme, as were Matt, Greg and many others well known to OCA regulars, and all concerned enjoyed near idylic conditions - not seen since the inaugural British visit first blogged as Dad and Daughter in France: Drôme (Canoe Festival), Ardèche, Allier
Those familiar with the Massif Central will recognise that OCA members first joined Wilderness Canoe on the Ardéche. As ever, they took in the iconic Pont D'Arc before a wonderfully gentle and relaxing overnight trip through France's most iconic gorge. If you've not done it, do it yourself or join a peer group trip or (if you've limited experience, or want the insights that only come from working in that gorge) sign up to be led through by a guide.
After the Open Canoe Festival, a group headed to a base on the Allier at Langeac, not least to take in the classic run from Chapeauroux to Pont d'Alleyras. With ~ rapids in ~ Km, this is rightly hailed by guidebook author Peter Knowles as "the Jewel in the Crown for paddling in the Massif Central" with almost forty rapids making for almost continuous class two white water (with a few easy bits of class three) in a beautifully wild gorge. Those attending certainly got the assured water levels, though rainfall did mean a return visit will be needed to get another fix of "crystal clear water" and "the hot sunshine of southern France"
Adrian has written up his experience and concludes...
a really relaxed holiday with Matt giving us plenty of rope to enjoy ourselves with a watchful eye and suggested challenges which I hope improved my paddling a little
Adrian Cooper in Central Massif with Wilderness Canoes
If you missed out, next year's France trips are being advertised here.