This summer, Laurent and his family travelled the length of the Loire in their van, to explore the beautiful chateaux of the Loire from an unusual angle…on the water!
It was an opportunity for the family to get up close and personal with these exceptional monuments as well as discovering the abundant fauna and flora all around. Here, Laurent tells us the story of this family road/river-trip and gives you some great tips for enjoying the same adventure yourselves!
Camper van x Sup-Yak: the perfect family combo
To execute their plan, the family decided to do the road travel in a fitted-out van. The land alongside the Loire and the Cher are ideal for this kind of trip. Perfect for taking each day as it comes and living at your own rhythm. Although you need to organise the essentials well (sleeping arrangements, food and water, storage) it also gives lots of freedom, and Laurent’s family very quickly bought into the idea!
With four people in the van, every cubic centimetre of space is precious. That’s why Laurent opted to take along an 11.6 Sup-Yak combined kayak/SUP.
« We needed a board the whole family could use, that would be safe and stable even in strong wind and water currents. The tandem SUP/kayak convertible proved itself to be the perfect choice for our plans ». The Sup-Yak hybrid board enables you to enjoy family fun and adventures in total safety, whichever configuration you choose, SUP or kayak, 1 or 2-up.
Discover the Sup-Yak: https://tahesport.com/global_tahe/11-6-beach-sup-yak-kayak-kit-inflatable-107253
Down-streaming the Loire to explore its amazing chateaux
The Loire is the longest river in France at nearly 1000km. Its source is in the Massif Centrale and it flows out into the Atlantic ocean at St Nazaire. It’s always been a popular route for cyclists, and especially for people who like historic chateaux ! SUP/kayak is a new way of enjoying this well-trodden path, lifting the veil on new perspectives and enriching your whole river/chateaux experience!
The high point of the adventure for Laurent’s family was paddling around and under the stunning vaulted arches of the chateau of Chenonceau, which straddles part of the river. Nicknamed the “chateau des Dames”, the whiteness of the facades and smooth curves of its architecture make this a masterpiece of the Renaissance.
« Chenonceau is considered to be one of the most beautiful chateaux on the Loire. This is without doubt largely due to its beautiful location and the part of the chateau that crosses the river Cher, giving amazingly photogenic mirror effects. Happily, as paddlers you get by far the best view of all that from, on the water. This is a must-do thing if you’re anywhere nearby. » Laurent
Where can you launch from?
« At Chenonceau there are plenty of launching sites on both sides of the river. The current of the Cher is quite weak at this point, making it easy to get back to your launch spot afterwards. If you want to do some down-streaming too, you can launch at Chissay (about 5km upstream), or further still depending how far you want to paddle. The nearest launch spot to the château itself is on the left bank, slightly downstream. The launch spot is easy for getting on and off the water. If you want to carry on downstream, past the weir, you can either carry your board round it or take the “by-pass” canal. » L.
It’s a journey back in time, unforgettable, and even more memorable if you do the château visit and see its immaculate ornamental gardens. Tempted?
"We needed a board the whole family could use, that would be safe and stable even in strong wind and water currents. The tandem SUP/kayak convertible proved itself to be the perfect choice for our plans".
The check-list so you’re ready for all eventualities:
- Take maximum safety equipment: life jackets, repair kit and spare parts, IGN (detailed, local) map, GPS, smartphone
- Study the weather forecast to be sure of taking appropriate clothing and food supplies
- Be aware of forthcoming complicated sections and passages where there is strong current
- Beware of tree trunks, patches of algae and other things floating in the water that aren’t always easy to spot
- Respect the rules of the river, and be careful when passing sail and motor boats in the opposite direction
- Have a vehicle waiting at the other end of a down-stream paddle to get you back to your start point
- Most important of all: respect the environment and the nature reserves
Laurent's advice about the Sup-Yak 11'6 kayak version:
Being able to configure it for kayaking was a real advantage, we were able to enjoy the experience and scenery despite the strong winds we often had during our extended river trip. What we liked:
- The all-in-one package concept, that packs down small and is light weight
- It’s easy and quick to prepare for use
- The board’s impressive stability, allowing you to go and have some fun on your own in the more lively sections
What we liked less: the brain-ache of getting everything back in the bag between 2 sessions… (we’ll master that another time)
Laurent’s top tip: « The seats and footrests take much more time to dry than the board. Remember to get them out and thoroughly dry them before you pack everything away for any length of time. »