Think of rugged narrow canyons. See snow capped peaks
and glacier fields. Add a brilliant blue sky and the hot Mediterranean sun. Look closer
and see crashing streams flowing through boulder piles beneath dramatic geologic
formations. Notice that the picturesque stone bridge just upstream is over a thousand
years old. Imagine how the castle overlooking the river valley must have looked eight
hundred years ago, when it housed knights on their way to fight in the Crusades. Combine
France and the French Alps, great whitewater, beautiful scenery, and of course French
wines and cuisine to create the most memorable whitewater experience of your life.
In the summer of 2015, we are planning a paddling
trip in the French Alps that will explore some of the world's most scenic and delightful
white water. Each trip will last ten days and include at least six days of paddling.
The first morning we will pick you up at the airport in Lyon and drive four hours to
Barcelonnette where we get your boat. On the last afternoon we will drop you off at the
airport, rail station or bus terminal for your return trip. Each night you will stay at one of the quaint inns that we
have selected to be our bases for your paddling trips. Each group will stay at three different locations during their stay. This will allow us
to be close to the rivers that we plan to run and have some time in the evening to enjoy
the local culture.
Many of the runs are short; most days we will
paddle two or more sections. We also include an open day with hiking and sightseeing
options to expand your boating vacation.
Yourself in the Correct Trip
Though some may find the food to be the most exciting
part of France, there is a great variety in whitewater. Because many of the
runs are short, we will often make more than one run in a day. If we have a second or
third run in the same day we might look at something a little more exciting. We will
tailor the river choices to the skill and energy level of each group.
The intermediate level rivers in the French Alps are
comparable to the Lower Youghiogheny, Section III of the Chattooga, Browns Canyon of
the Arkansas, or the South Fork of the American.
Advanced boaters need to feel comfortable on the North Fork of the Stanislaus, Tygart
Gorge, the Numbers of the Arkansas, the Upper Yough, or the Ledges of the Tellico. Each group will have a
maximum of eight paddlers. When the entire group is paddling we will have a minimum of two
staff on the river, with another running shuttle. On second runs we may split into smaller
groups as desires and opportunities allow.
For non-paddling companions who would like to
experience France with our group, we have a reduced rate that includes transportation,
lodging, and most meals.
There will be some activity guidance available while
the group is on the river. Additionally, on the open day there will be staff guidance for
non-paddling activities, or if you choose you can set out on your own with your map,
camera, bread, cheeseand the appropriate tasty beverage.
Take out your map of Europe and look at southeast
France. There you will see the extent of the French Alps. On the east is the Italian
border and on the west is the Rhône valley. We will paddle as far north as Bourg St.
Maurice, but the Alps extend past the Swiss border to Austria. The southern limit is where
the Alps plunge into the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. We will negotiate sinuous
roads over high plateaus and through dramatic mountains cut by deep river canyons.
Look at the map - - the density of rivers is a
paddler's dream. The stream character varies widely: from narrow creeks, to glacial
valleys and classic canyons.
May 14 May 23
Additional trips may be added... so stay
Our targeted runs include the Verdon,Var,Vesubie
and Tinée in the south.
Farther north we find the Durance, Guil, Gyronde, Guisanne, Bachelard, Claree, and Ubaye, and as you travel to the
northern end of our range, the Drac, Severaisse, Doron De Bozel, and Isère. These classics are only a taste of the
myriad streams that await us.
Though the air will be warm to hot and the
skies blue, the water can be glacial cold depending on how close to the source we are. Bring a dry top or drysuit as if you were
paddling on an April day in West Virginia with the air temperature of 80 or 90 degrees
Fahrenheit. You will need your fleece, booties and poagies on some rivers. Most people like
to use their own paddles and skirts, though we can obtain almost any boating need from our
Let us know ahead of time of any special equipment needs. Of course we supply the
boats and outfitting.
Boats are available from Eskimo, Prijon, Perception, Pyranha, Necky, Wave Sport,
Riot, BlissStik and Dagger. We will reserve one of your boat choices and have it waiting.
The towns of Barcelonnette, Briançon, Castellane, and
Bourg St. Maurice will be our home bases. We have accommodations at picturesque lodges and
farms, providing regional French cuisine for breakfast, lunch and most dinners. We will eat out at a local restaurant one night in each of our three areas.
In the evenings
you will have time to explore the villages where we stay. With Pierre's guidance we will
delight in the local wines and other treats that abound.
The cost for each paddler is $3,000 for each 10-day
trip. This includes all expenses except airfare (we can provide some help in getting the
best airfare deals) and alcohol. The cost for non-paddlers is $3,000, also excluding airfare and alcohol. In order to reserve your place on the trip of your choice, please send a deposit
of $1000 per person to our office address by February 1, 2015. We will then send you an information packet with
your confirmation. Due to fluctuations in the value of the US dollar
there could be a small price adjustment as we get closer to trip dates.
Who are we?
Mykl Messer is known throughout the Mid-Atlantic for
his Rainbowave Paddles.
He was a professional guide, safety and video boater on the Upper Yough, Cheat, Gauley, Russel Fork and other
rivers in the Allegheny Mountains. He has dual US-French
citizenship, and speaks French jus fin. He owns Mykl Messer Designs, crafting fine wooden
furniture and lathe-turned objects in bustling downtown Valley Point, West Virginia.
Teresa Gryder is a student of life, medicine, and the river. She is currently completing a Naturopathic Doctorate at NCNM in Portland, Oregon. In the summer of 2012, after finishing clinical boards, she will be opening a private practice, location TBD. Her first career was in whitewater recreation. She taught kayak, canoe and river rescue, paddle raft guided, safety boated, videoboated, river rangered and generally lived it up on rivers all over the US and abroad. She is eager to return to France for another round of Alpine whitewater, food, wine and laughter with Mykl.
and E-mail Contacts
Pierre and Lionel LaFay speak excellent French, as they
are natives. Together they own Coureurs de Rivières, and Oueds and Rios,
whitewater rafting and excursion companies in the Southern Alps. Pierre is a formidable boater with an infectious
laugh, and resides in Barcelonnette on the Ubaye River. Big brother Lionel
raced C-2 on the French slalom team (in the dark ages), and is based in Bourg St. Maurice,
on the Isère.
In the heart of classic Provence, we find Didier Menard who speaks French with the local accent and owns Aboard Rafting in historic Castellane. They specialize in canyoning, hydrospeed, VTT, climbing, raft and kayak experiences in and around the Gorges du Verdon......Europe's Grand Canyon.
Alpine Whitewater Française
1501 Guseman School Road
Albright, WV 26519-7533
National and International Organizations
American Canoe Association-----National watersports organization
American Whitewater-----Premier North American whitewater organization
Eaux Vives-----A great resource on the European paddling community
Friends of the Cheat-----Grassroots river conservation organization for the Cheat river, WV USA
Burley Griffin Canoe Club-----Canberra, Australia
Canoe Cruisers Association-----Washington, DC USA
Keel Hauler's-----Cleveland, OH USA
Monocacy Canoe Club-----Frederick, MD USA
Three Rivers Paddling Club-----Pittsburgh, PA USA
Northeast Paddlers Message Board
Rec.Boats. Paddle Official website
Aboard Rafting-----Outfitter on the Cote D'Azur, France
Calleva Outdoors-----Kayak instruction and trips to Mexico
Coureurs de Rivieres-----International adventure outfitter in the Isere valley, France
Nantahala Outdoor Center-----Rafting and kayaking instruction in North Carolina, USA
Oueds and Rios-----Rafting and Canyoning in the Ubaye valley, France
Professional River Outfitters-----Equipment outfitter for the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, USA
Riversport-----Paddling school in Confluence, PA USA
Diver's Security-----Excellent insurance for water based adventure sports
Mykl Messer Designs-----Custom studio art furniture and lathe turned objects
Rainbowave-----Custom wooden Canoe and Kayak paddles
Teresa Gryder-----Naturopathic medicine doctoral candidate 2011
The Turned Urn-----Lathe turned wooden cremation urns for humans and pets
Whitewater Vacations-----Resource for whitewater based vacations
Text and photographs on this site are courtesy of
Teresa Gryder and Mykl Messer.
Please report any broken or missing links.
May your mountains rise into and above the clouds----Edward Abbey