The best whitewater descents in the South of France
With great white water, plenty of sunshine and beautiful mountain scenery, the Southern French Alps has a lot to attract river runners.
The Hautes Alpes and Alpes de Haute Provence regions of southern France have some of the most beautiful white water rivers in France. The most spectacular and fun rivers are undoubtedly the Durance, the Ubaye, the Bachelard and the Guil. White water kayaking and rafting from grades 2 to 5 is waiting to thrill you and spill you, all under a warm Mediterranean sun.
Book a Rafting or Kayaking Trip in the Alps of Southern France
Our rafting and kayaking partners in the South of France employ experienced guides who are all fully qualified so you can have fun and stay safe. Enjoy a rafting trip with friends and family, ramp up the fun with inflatable kayaks, or embark on the tandem kayak adventure of a lifetime through the Verdon Grand Canyon.
Rafting & Kayaking the Var
The Var runs through the Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departments of south-eastern France, finally meeting the sea at Saint-Laurent-du-Var. The upper section of the Var Valley runs through the astoundingly beautiful Gorges de Daluis, nicknamed the Colorado Niçois because of the red rock and blue water of the canyon. The class III – IV water is run commercially in spring when melt-water from the Mercantour National Park feeds the flow. A lower section of the Var between Puget Théniers and Touët-sur-Var has gentler class II water suitable for hot-dogging and family trips.
Running from the Italian border to Serre-Ponçon Lake, the Ubaye follows one of the most stunning natural watercourses in France. You can raft through unspoilt scenery down a succession of rapids for more than 50 km. The river is graded from class 2 to 5, so there’s something for everyone from first timers to thrill-seeking river maggots. The Kings Course from Martinet to Lauzet offers 1.5 hours of non-stop rapids. The most intrepid paddlers can tackle the rapids that were previously thought to be un-navigable, known to the locals as the Ex-infranchissables in the Fresquière to Martinet bridge section. If you’ve got the boules, this is one to tick off your rafting in France list.
Rafting & Kayaking the Durance
The Durance runs from Saint Clément to Serre-Ponçon Lake and is graded class 2 to 3, so it’s a bit more progressive than the Ubaye. The put in at Saint Clément is a great point from which to discover this beautiful valley and get your paddling technique nailed down for bigger water later on. If you already have some rafting experience, you may want to paddle this section yourself in a canoe-raft, a super boyant inflatable canoe. However you choose to descend, you’re sure to have great fun in the Rabioux waves. Where the Durance meets Serre-Ponçon Lake is a great spot for lunch.
Rafting & Kayaking the Guil
On the edge of the Ecrins National Park, the Guil, described as one of the most beautiful rivers in France, also offers a superb white water experience with spectacular rapids and deep canyons. The descent by raft takes in one of the most scenic sections of the Guil and includes the legendary Triple Chute – not for the faint hearted.
Rafting & Kayaking the Bachelard
The Bachelard is a tributary of the Ubaye and originates in the high mountains of Mercantour national park. This steep, technical river is graded class 2 to 5 and will appeal to those who love challenging whitewater. You put in at Col de la Cayolle and paddle through the magnificent Vallée du Bachelard, surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. The Bachelard descent is only accessible in May and June.
On two days per week during July and August the dam releases a torrent of white water and the Verdon river flows with full force. The 25 km descent through the Verdon canyon is legendary and should be on every thrill-seekers’ hit list. Class V rapids make this an exciting descent requiring fitness, commitment and a sense of adventure. If you’re not an expert kayaker you can still enjoy the epic experience by joining a qualified guide in a tandem kayak.
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Canyoning in the South of France
Many rafting companies also offer canyoning trips and if you have a head for heights as well as water, then this can be really great fun. The south of France has some of the longest and most beautiful canyons in Europe.