The Perfect Family Adventure: Visit France by Canoe

Canoeing on the Dordogne 08

There are so many ways to enjoy France. There’s the lavender scented fields of Provence, best seen from the saddle of a bicycle; the coastal paths and white beaches of Brittany’s Emerald Coast, perfect for a walking tour; quick tours of wine country and of astounding countryside perfect for foodies; and then of course there are the places you simply must see with paddle in hand from the seat of a leisurely floating canoe.

Picture this: You’re floating along on the wide, flat Dordogne River—the water reflects blue sky, some wisps of cloud, and the lush greenery along the bank. As you come to a bend in the river, listening only to the drip of water off your paddle as you leisurely row your way down river. As you turn the corner, you see rose gold limestone cliffs overhanging the water tucked among the walnut groves at the riverside, you spot ancient stone châteaux. When you stop for the day, you discover a village with narrow, winding streets, charming markets, and even better views of the river you’ve been enjoying all day long.

GROTT~2COne of the best things about canoeing the Dordogne is thinking about the history of the region: The Dordogne is home to some of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. As you make your way down the river, you can imagine prehistoric man taking shelter in the naturally occurring caves at the water’s edge—some with amazing ancient formations, including the caves of Lacave, caverns with more than a mile of stalactites that form queer reflections in the water.

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And of course, all along your trip down the Dordogne, you’ll enjoy stays at fantastically friendly hotels with outstanding food, plus pools for the ultimate relaxation. This 9 day trip truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience.You’ll also have the opportunity to visit villages with clusters of cottages with the occasional 16th Century turreted manor houses and even historic religious sites. One of our favorites along the tour is Rocamadour shrine, which is perched atop a rocky outcropping above the Alzou Valley. Legend says the shrine was at one time home to the hermit Zaccheus of Jericho, an early Christian who died around 70 AD and is said to have spoken with Jesus during his lifetime. Zaccheus was buried at Rocamadour, and after his death it became a popular pilgrimage site. In the past, visitors have climbed all 216 steps to visit the statue of the black virgin, which dates to the 9th Century.