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Gliding on water
Originally invented on the oceans of Hawaii as a surfing sport Stand Up Paddle Boarding is an activity being taken up across rivers all over the world.
For beginners it’s a new challenge, a bit like gliding on water, it’s more akin to surfing than kayaking - and heaps of fun. Most canoe operators in the Dordogne Valley now offer stand up paddling and the Dordogne is a great river to get started on. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the cleanest river in France, its pristine waters are calm with a slow moving current in the summer months. Consequently you can hone your new skills without having to plunge straight into rapids. Beginners can also try it out on the lakes of the Dordogne Valley such as the Lac du Coiroux.
Make a Splash…
From the age of 7, you will be accompanied by an instructor for your first time out. You will be provided with a life-jacket but it is compulsory for everyone to know how to swim.
Boards are longer and wider than those used for surfing, so try out different stances to get comfortable. From sitting to kneeling and finally standing, learn how to use your paddle for balance and how to paddle through fast moving stretches of water. You will definitely fall off but learn how to do so safely and stylishly !
In turn, learn how to get back on easily respecting the potential danger of rivers. As you gain in confidence, you can start applying your skills - try crossing the Eddy line as you edge your board effortlessly. You can also learn how to ferry, traversing the river from side to side without going downstream.
For the experienced who want a full workout on the water or for beginners wanting to take it easy, let the current do the work as you take in all of the beauty that the Dordogne River provides - You will definitely be converted.
Different strokes for different folks
Running from Argentat-sur-Dordogne to the Château de Beynac, different stretches of the Dordogne river offer different paddling conditions and different views/scenery.
Near Argentat-sur-Dordogne the river has a faster current, making paddle boarding more fun for the experienced. Once you pass Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne the current eases as you paddle past the magnificent châteaux, impressive limestone cliffs and gorgeous villages dotting the riverbanks. You will also glide under some unusual bridges such as the iron suspension bridge in Gluges or the pretty single-lane bridge in Floirac...
There are many places to stop off if you are feeling tired, a variety of sand and pebble beaches for a quick break or a spot of sunbathing.
Each stretch of the river offers something slightly different. Check with the canoe operator you want to use but most now offer a paddle boarding option.
As with canoeing, many companies operate along the river and are similarly priced. You will always paddle downstream and either be dropped upstream or picked up upon your arrival by bus then driven back to your starting point.