2011 France - Dordogne
On tour with canoe and bicycle
This journey does not fit into a tandem-site? You might think so, but exactly this tour was the initial trip for changing from single bikes to a tandem. Packed with the canoe on the car roof and the bikes on the bike rack we head for southern France. Argentat on the river Dordogne is the take off point. As you cannot make a round tour by boat, we deposit the bikes a couple of stages ahead. After arriving the deposit with the boat, we cycle back with to collect the car.
Downstream by canoe, upstream by bike
The boat carries all the weight, which enables us to travel with extended luggage. Our Hilleberg Keron-4 tent is a kind of a villa for just two persons. We will have to leave it at home on our future bike trips, as it is quite heavy. The river is calm and friendly, which suits me perfectly. While Fritz has lots of experience in canoeing it is my first trip on water. We paddle quite relaxed downstream and stop wherever we find a bakery with sweet tarts.
Château de La Treyne
You can find a lot of stunning castles alongside the river. Easy sightseeing for us while gliding smoothly over the water. Occasionally we park the boat on the bank and walk up to the castle whenever it is open for the public.
Cycling back to collect the car
After a couple of days we leave tent and canoe at the campsite and cycle back upstream to collect our car. To think a bicycle tour near a river is nice and flat is a major mistake. The roads along the Dordogne often lead us up into the hills. Fritz is always ahead and needs to wait for me quite frequently. A tandem bike could be the solution. Yet, I have no idea of that in these days.
Wild camping on the river bank
It is June. Holiday season in France is in July/August. This means that many campgrounds are still closed. What could be seen as a drawback on one side leads to a major advantage on the other side. We are almost the only boat on the river for days. Just the odd fisherman standing in the shallow water can be spotted. And we find a romantic place for wild camping directly on the river bank. No one takes any notice of us. But as said, we are out of the high season. Otherwise we would probably be driven away.
Side trip to Rocamadur
Rocamadur is situated a bit offside the Dordogne. We take the short uphill tour by bike to visit this spectacular town where the houses seem to be glued to the rocks. If I had realized how easy this tour would have been with a tandem, I would not have resisted getting one for so long.
Grotto Lacave on the Dordogne
There are a lot of caves along the Dordogne. You can even enter some of the smaller ones by boat. Lacave is a particuarly attractive one. We take a little train which brings us deep into the mountain, before we go for a walk through the illuminated grot.
Map of river Dordogne
After 10 days with 154 river- and 158 cycling- kilometers our canoe trip comes to an end on the juction of the rivers Vézère and Dordogne near Limeuil. Due to low water we cannot paddle any further. We still have some days left so we take the chance, pack our things and drive norhtbound into the Normandy to Mont-Saint-Michel.