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|Playspot: France, River Ardeche, Le Charlemagne|
What's it like
A small but relatively fast wave on the Ardeche river, not very retentive, but it allows for some basic moves like blunts, sidekicks etc.
The Ardeche is probably the most popular tourist river in France. Tourists typically rent sit-on-tops in Vallon Pont d'Arc and then go down 8 kilometers through the famous Pont d'Arc, a huge natural bridge structure (Le Charlemagne is just before the Pont d'Arc), or 32 kilometers through the also famous Gorges de l'Ardeche (Ardeche Canyon).
Tourists on the wave.
The whole river is relative easy WW-I, with some more difficult spots here and there. Charlemagne is the spot at the base of the most difficult rapid (500 meters, up to WW-III+ depending on water levels). There's a big beach on river left just after the spot and the water is extremely quiet, so it's really no problem if beginners take a swim here. The biggest danger is caused by lots of SOTs with out-of-control captains.
Tourist family gone fishing.
The way through the canyon is quite beautiful, although the sheer number of tourists on the water takes away most of the natural magic.
Warning: the final 5 kilometers typically make you feel as if you're paddling up-hill.
Charlemagne @ 70 cumecs
Best time (for the spot): early autumn till late spring. The wave works between 60 and 90 cumecs, but 60-70 is best. See RDBRMC for water levels.
How to get there
On the D290 from Vallon Pont d'Arc towards the south-east, take the exit Pont d'Arc, and voila.
Tons of tourists in spring and summer.
Nearest weather station (°C):