The Idyllic Aveyron

Posted on 30 May 2011

My friends will not believe that unsporty me took a little trip down the Aveyron River in a kayak yesterday. Two visiting friends asked Rob and me to take the trip and, much to everyone’s surprise, I said yes.

It was a glorious day, strong sun, warmed water (shallow enough that I knew even if we capsized, I’d live). Rob and I were in one kayak, our friends in a second. Before setting off, the kayak man, showed us a map of the turns in the river and the five or six spots where we might experience problems. Stay left here. Right here. Make sure you go down the chute here. Here’s where you are sure to be soaked. (We were.)

And so we set off, in our life jackets, me in the front, Rob in the back, with two two-sided paddles. I loved the beginning, swishing the water at one side and then the other with the paddle, experimenting when the kayak turned in the wrong direction, and closing my eyes when we went down the chute. After a couple of hours, we docked the kayaks and climbed to a bar overlooking the river and drank a glass of rose. The scenery was spectacular – light playing off greenery with bare-faced rock cliffs in the background, small groups of sun-bathers and swimmers here and there on small sand beaches, and the occasional summer cottage. As it’s early in the season, there weren’t too many of us paddling the river and so much of the way was silent.

By the end, I was content but exhausted. My shoulders ached from padding. I was soaked to the skin. (Rob who did the trip once before with Brendan warned me that I’d need a change of clothing. Thank goodness I listened.) We arrived home early evening, threw some cold leftovers on the table and ate a little but I was so tired, I went to bed at 8:30 and slept to midnight.

I awoke with sore muscles and red legs… the only proof that I’d taken this journey. Was it worth it? Yes. I loved not thinking about anything but my surroundings. Will I do it again? Perhaps.

I would prefer renting a little row boat in which I could put a picnic basket, a ground blanket, and a good book. I’d row a little, rest a little, stop on a beach for a feast, and then continue, without getting soaked. I imagine a D.H. Lawrence scene.

Not tomorrow but the next day, I will join a friend in Paris for two nights and one full day and I imagine we will stroll along another river – the Seine. At heart, I am a city woman.

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