Slide Canoeing/Kayaking Playing on the water in Provence

Canoeing/Kayaking is the perfect way to see some of the natural splendour of Provence from a new perspective.  This is not white-water rafting, it is a gentle trip downriver that is ideal for families. You can be accompanied or not, stop off for swims and picnics, and you will be returned to your point of departure at the end.  Here are our Provence canoe and kayaking recommendations.

Sorgue River – Fontaine de Vaucluse

The Sorgue River emerges from deep underground at Fontaine de Vaucluse, and just outside of town you can rent a kayak and ride the gentle waters down to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which you can do in 1-2 hours, depending on your pace and whether you stop. The river is crystalclear and the bottom a dazzling emerald green (it’s also bracingly cold as it has just come out of the ground!) This is a beautiful nature outing as well as a fun activity for all ages.

Kids love it, though there is a minimum age of 3 or 6 years old, depending on the operator. The distance is about 8km/5 miles, and it is gentle, unless there has been a lot of rain over a period of time, which makes the river higher and the water faster. You do need to get out at a couple of points to get over weirs, and so footwear is important, as wet steps are slippery.

There are a few obvious spots you can stop off at for a break and a swim, one is a small sandy beach, and there are a couple of small islets.

Wildlife: the Sorgue is alive with wildlife. Look down into the water and in the deeper sections you will see fat trout idling against the current. In the air it is common to see a kingfisher, and irridescent damselflies are everywhere. Along the banks are voles and the occasional otter.

Choose your operator: there are two possibilities, Kayak Vert and Canoe Evasion. If you want to go off on your own choose Kayak Vert. If you want to go in a small group with a guide, go with Canoe Evasion. Kayak Vert starts from slightly higher up the river, so has a slightly longer ride down river. Both end at the parting of the waters at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and bring you back to the start by bus.

They have kayaks for 1, 2 or 3 people, and if you have two small children you can go as a 4 with the children together in the middle.

If you like good customer service, you may be disappointed by Kayak Vert. They are busy in summer and it shows. If you arrive at journey’s end between 2pm and 3pm, you will find the staff are on their lunch break. So you need to set off before 12 or after 1. This is not the case with Canoe Evasion.

Age limits: 3 years old for Canoe Evasion and 6 years old for Kayak Vert.

Pont du Gard

This superb course starts at Remoulins, west of Avignon. There are several organisations running trips along the river. In the past we have always chosen Natu’ Rando who have several itineraries of differing lengths and starting points.

The most family-friendly trip is the 7km, the company will provide the necessary equipment and take you to the start point upriver in their mini-bus. After an instructional briefing you will be ‘launched’ into the river, which is incredibly clear, warm and calm. The trip is unguided so you get to choose your own speed and can stop off anywhere you like to swim and picnic.

The region of the Gorges du Gardon is stunningly beautiful, quiet and calming. You will see plenty of wildlife, especially birds. You will pass the castle of St Privat and then the crowning moment is when you get to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pont du Gard for the first time and are reminded of the incredible resilience of Roman engineering as you pass safely underneath.

Just before the finish there is a low weir which can either be walked around or you can have one last fun challenge and try to pass over it in the kayak. Then it’s back to the starting point in Remoulins.

Other Provence Kayaking Venues

  • Lauris:  On the south side of the Luberon mountain, either from Cadenet to Lauris (8km/5 miles), or Puy Sainte Reparade to Lauris (18km/111 miles) .
  • Cassis (near Marseilles):  Sea kayaking to discover the beautiful calanques, this is more taxing than on a river, the fitter you are the further you can go in exploring the calanques.
  • Gorges du Verdon:  Adventurous fun taking in the stunning scenery.

Come prepared

Wear shorts or swimming trunks, T-shirt and shoes with grip that don’t mind getting wet. You will get a wet bottom, and more if you swim in the cool waters. Also bring sun block and a hat, water, maybe a snack, and a towel is nice if you swim. Put all your items in waterproof drums tied to the kayak – ask for these at the beginning, they are called bidon in French, although English is spoken by the staff.


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Maison Saint Antoine: 43.941989, 5.068946
Avalon: 43.903628, 5.210137
Villa Roussillon: 43.890362, 5.299208
Les Vignes: 43.840439, 5.213013
La Rourette: 43.943627, 5.247753
The Lourmarin Cottage: 43.763342, 5.364171
Maison de Gordes: 43.915482, 5.208474
Les Coudelieres: 43.933545, 4.974167
The Ansouis House: 43.737360, 5.464647
Maison de Bonnieux: 43.822572, 5.309476
St Hilaire: 43.829442, 5.256647
Villa Lioux: 43.944654, 5.286570
Les Petitons: 43.832236, 5.165591
Les Madeleines: 43.898511, 5.076885
Moustier de Menerbes 1: 43.829105, 5.209177
Moustier de Menerbes 2: 43.828788, 5.209821
Les Ocres: 43.900737, 5.286419
Bastide des Oliviers: 43.858513, 5.103021
Mas des Oliviers: 43.859364, 5.102184
Domaine de Gordes: 43.915022, 5.209435
La Roubine: 43.915022, 5.209435
Mas de Joucas: 43.910775, 5.255365
Les Heyrauds: 43.845751, 5.220469
Villa Lavande: 43.861221, 5.315881
Villa Ansouis: 43.752575, 5.448521
Provence Pines: 43.869575, 5.414806
La Beaume: 44.115329, 5.054162
Mas de Menerbes: 43.851458, 5.190225
Grambois Manor: 43.762230, 5.588865
Menerbes Vista: 43.833362, 5.205084
Grand Fontvert: 43.864195, 5.516108
Fontvert: 43.864149, 5.515775
Domaine de l\'Oratoire: 43.857430, 5.291762
Capucine: 43.857276, 5.291290
Marquis: 43.857430, 5.291977
Libertine: 43.856997, 5.290947
Calavon: 43.856626, 5.290689
Senanque: 43.856842, 5.290132
Villa Lacoste: 43.827933, 5.247452
Mas d\'Oppede: 43.828569, 5.173143
Les Vignes: 43.826748, 5.251497
Le Paradesque: 43.845384, 5.167018
Mas du Thor: 43.956835, 4.974704
La Fontaine Basse: 43.892450, 5.569725
Mas Les Tours Ouest: 43.858849, 5.250644
Maison Oppede: 43.839449, 5.166171
Mas de Murs: 43.958362, 5.217971
La Grand Bastide Menerbes: 43.839559, 5.204869
Villa Menerbes: 43.830619, 5.210597
Mas d\'Apt: 43.868679, 5.388484
Maison Oppede: 43.828977, 5.161384
Villa Dumaines, Cabrieres: 43.892444, 5.152480
Villa les Oliviers, Oppede : 43.834379, 5.176289
Villa Castelas, Bonnieux: 43.823622, 5.311986
Villa Détente : 43.846982, 5.167645
Mas de Ruby, Maubec: 43.851597, 5.135625
Maison Lacoste: 43.833044, 5.273545
Mas du Chateau, Lagnes: 43.894793, 5.115951
Maison Briand: 43.823430, 5.306400
Maison Saint Andre: 43.762078, 5.369018
Villa de la Petit Etang: 43.928318, 5.381581
Mas Les Sauvestres, Gordes: 43.907180, 5.226460
Maison Lagnes: 43.894091, 5.113870
Maison Les Emiyeux: 43.913120, 5.413900
Mazet du Hameau, Gordes: 43.873568, 5.183056
Maison Saint Saturnin: 43.928468, 5.382581
Maison du Vallon: 43.842899, 5.192467
Les Blayons, Bonnieux: 43.823976, 5.312148
Mas de Royere: 43.856193, 5.161600
Villa Parisot, Cabrieres: 43.888486, 5.143130
Domaine des Pradelles: 43.926375, 5.375794
Bastide d\'Oppede: 43.842159, 5.177173
Mas de la Lone: 43.903436, 5.085105
Villa du Petite Bois: 43.846621, 5.167432
Villa Belle Roche, Menerbes: 43.830659, 5.207299
Le Clos des Hauts d’Oppede : 43.834397, 5.164938
Villa Puyvert: 43.758508, 5.340124
Mas des Vergiers: 43.845916, 5.012564
Villa Perreal, Saint Saturnin: 43.926255, 5.372998
Maison Pervenches, Viens: 43.891736, 5.563072
Clos de Colette: 43.846380, 5.112680
Maison Vaucluse: 43.845192, 5.171327