Canoeing, Limagne Evasion

The Allier at its wildest

This week, I have an appointment with the family business Limagne Évasion, run by Patrick Flavier.

There’s a lot of talk about the heatwave and how to avoid heatstroke. But just because there’s a heatwave doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy summer activities and sports. Quite the contrary, in fact. It’s to the rivers and streams that we find a little coolness, and even if the drought is raging, the Allier is still holding out.

The Allier amidst peaceful countryside. Departure is from Joze and, depending on the route, you can cruise as far as Vialle, Limons or the Pont de Ris.

Preparation and descent of the river 

Just a few kilometers from this river, in the middle of a small field, is the Limagne Évasion club. With canoe rentals, activities and paintball, the club is ready every summer. And in this weather, nothing beats a trip on the water. Patrick Flavier takes us to the start of the circuit, and I don my lifejacket. A canister is provided to protect any objects or food from the water.

Even though I’ve canoed before, he explains how to paddle. Placed at the front of the two-seater canoe, I set off against all odds with Patrick’s son Jules for an hour.

As we set off, we immediately feel the wind on our legs, and the few drops of water that cool our skin are most welcome. Numb heads and muscles softened by the heat are blown away, giving way to a feeling of calm. The coolness makes me feel like I can breathe again. Protected by my cap and sunglasses, I enjoy this short kilometer of paddling. I observe the wilderness around me and the herons that skim the water’s edge. Everyone nestles in this little corner away from civilization and noise pollution. Even the Japanese knotweed has taken up residence on all the water’s edges, dotted with flora. The current is very gentle and the stroll remains a very calm moment.

I’m so busy fluttering around that I forget to paddle and put my hands in the water. As if on cue, I hold my paddle and help Jules along. After a hundred meters or so, we see a couple off on a 22 km ride.

With a ride of this length, they have no choice but to take a full day. And even with a lunch break, you still need to be highly motivated to paddle all day. For 1/2 and full-day trips, pack a picnic and, above all, enough water.

After that, you can do it with my technique and let yourself be carried along as the canoe remains comfortable, and you’d have to be difficult not to enjoy this activity. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect extreme sensations, but I think you already know that.


 Lucile Brière for La Gazette de Thiers et d'Ambert.

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