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A Paddling Escape Down the Tarn

©Sam John

Scenic villages, pristine water, stunning cliffs, the Gorges du Tarn in France is the ultimate destination if you’re looking for rugged beauty and a change of scenery. Sam John returns from the trip of a lifetime and shares his experience paddling in this uniquely beatiful location. 

S.J : " I had often heard about the Gorges du Tarn but I never had the opportunity to admire them myself. In the springtime, the weather is sublime and nature is in full bloom—it’s the perfect time to discover this wild paradise located just 3 hours from my home in Toulouse, France.

We left early in the morning, packing four of us plus our inflatable Breeze Full HP PRO kayak into the car. The rigid but foldable material the kayak is made from are extraordinarily resistant to handling, allowing the 4.73 m kayak to easily pack down for travel and transport. After a few hours of driving, we finally entered the Gorges du Tarn. The further we drove into the heart of it, the more a natural corridor rose around us, eventually surrounding us completely. Below us, the crystalline blue water flowed peacefully, with no signs of any strong currents. As we drove, the desire to paddle on the surface of the magnificent river grew stronger and stronger.

A magical place 

There were plenty of options for places to stop along the river and put in. At Saint-Chély-du-Tarn we cut the engine to drink in the views. The place was magical—mineral cliffs covered in overhanging bushes lined the river. There was a stone village full of charm and history as well as a spattering of beaches at the base of the immense cliffs. 

We parked on a small patch of grass and unfolded our kayak. Within minutes, we had the kayak inflated, the seats and rudders installed, and were ready to go. We launched from the beach below the village, excited for our adventure to begin.

Surrounded by nature

A few paddle strokes deposited us in the middle of the river, where we were floating on emerald water surrounded by the cliffs. The kayak, which is equipped with a rudder, was the ideal boat to navigate the beautiful scenary—it was comfortable, fast, and peaceful. As a photographer, I had no issues having my camera onboard, thanks to the stability of the kayak. It was incredbile to be able to take pictures of this magnificent place from the middle of the river.

We paddled all day, up and down the river, pausing in the middle of nowhere along the peaceful shores of the Tarn. It was a real moment of escape, disconnection, and freedom. 

One last look

We finished our adventure under the orange hues of the setting sun. We returned to the beach were we began our journey and put away our equipment, easily deflating and storing the kayak. We took one final look at the Gorges du Tarn and hit the road, feeling energized and refreshed.

ENJOY THE MOMENT

The most important thing in SUP yoga is to enjoy yourself and be in the moment, regardless of your level or goals. It’s an opportunity to spend time with like-minded people and make new friends while getting in a good workout.  

What’s the worst that can happen? You could fall in the water? A quick dip will be refreshing and is a sure way to spice up your session. Try not to take yourself too seriously and fully immerse in the experience. 

READY TO GIVE IT A TRY?

To get started, all you need is a wide, stable SUP board, a paddle, a leash, and a PFD. You’ll also want to wear something that will keep you warm and that you don’t mind getting wet (in case you fall in).

To set yourself up for success, find a calm body of water to practice on. If you don’t feel comfortable going on your won, seek out a coach or a trainer to show you the ropes.