CSCC Reports 2005: France 27 April to 3 May 2005
Carole and Richard had very kindly opened up their palatial house in Gattières again so the group who travelled were Malcolm and Marcia, Bridget, Hilary, Peter and of course Richard. We managed to get three kayaks and a bike on the Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Nice with no extra charges (although their policy has now changed so we won’t be so lucky next time). Kayaks fit on luggage trolleys and the trolleys at Gatwick are excellent as they travel sideways OK. We had tried but failed to get a hire car with roofrack so the club came to our aid and bought a ‘Handirack’ inflatable roof rack. It proved very useful and the sidebars on our hired estate car meant we could tie the boats to them rather than pass the straps through the inside of the car.
The weather was sunny and hot so we spent the first day walking in the Esteron valley, we took the opportunity to scout some access and egress points but there wasn ’t enough water in the river to make it paddleable.
On Friday 29th Richard, Carole, Peter and Hilary headed of to paddle the Var from Entrevaux to Touet sur Var, a section of about 20km. Meanwhile Malcolm and Marcia hit the tourist trail in Entrevaux and Bridget went cycling along the Corniche from Gattières. The Var was an exciting continuous conveyor belt of Grade 2/3. Those new to alpine paddling couldn’t get over the speed of the water and the distance was covered in less time that expected. The beautiful scenery made it a fantastic trip and the close presence of the N202 was not noticed.
Saturday - Fresh from the exciting paddle the day before Carole, Richard, Hilary and Peter decided to go for the main event, The Daluis Gorge. At continuous Grade 3 it was a step up from the day before. Carole opted to do the shuttle meaning we could manage with one car. This left Bridget, Marcia and Malcolm free to go off and explore in the hire car (in Italy!). The Gorge with its 300 m red sandstone walls did not disappoint, the rapids were continuous and the tight corners kept the heart pumping as we travelled deeper and deeper. Carole took photos from the bridge above, which I gather is used for bungee jumping.
It was certainly one of our most memorable trips ever and the claim for it being the best Grade 3 trip in Europe is well deserved. We had many photo stops before meeting up with Carole at the bridge just above Daluis. At this point Richard took over the role of Shuttle bunny and Carole joined Peter and Hilary on the next 10km of Grade 3- conveyor belt. We saw a few other river users at this point – a raft and some smaller inflatable crafts. Richard was having difficulty keeping up with us as we shot down the next 10k in record time, Carole having decided not to worry about breakouts.
In the evening Ian and Diane, on honeymoon, came round for their dinner. It was great to see them.
Sunday – more fabulous walking, this time to the Sommet de Viérou above Coursegoules.
Monday – sea paddling today, starting at Théoule-sur-Mer (west of Cannes) and then along the coast to the beach at Point d’Aiguille. We took it in turns to explore the scenic coast further west. Bridget and Malcolm had the opportunity to paddle today which they enjoyed.
Tuesday – weather not so good today, did some touristy things in Vence and Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Travelled home via Gatwick, had fun getting the kayaks on the luggage rack in the shuttle bus to the long stay car park.
All images © CSCC Richard Szczepanski / Carole Moss / Peter and Hilary Lawrence / Malcolm and Marcia Sorrell