Description of the Monistrol Gorge on the Allier in France.
How to get there
Monistrol-d'Allier is the town where you get in, the get in is right beneath the dam. To get to Monistrol take the D589 from Le-Puy-en-Valley. Just follow the road and you will arrive in Monistrol. When you are in Monistrol just before you cross the river take a left and follow a small road down to the river. The get out is in Prades.
What is it like
The gorge is graded 2-3 with 2 grade 4 rapids in the guide book. The stretch is about 10 km long. It starts off with some fun grade 2 or 3 rapids for about the first 3-4 kms.
Then you get to the first grade 4 rapid, a drop about 2-3 meters high and at the bottom is a very strong stopper. Scout first! And if you still want to do it, stay right and try to boof off the rock and get into the eddy.
After this the river continue as before for about 1 km, then comes the second grade 4 rapid. This is basically a longer grade 3 rapid: some nice waves (no you can’t play in them), and then at the bottom a stopper, which isn't very big, but this all depends on the water levels.
After that the river becomes easier, so you have time to enjoy the very nice scenery.
If you have kids who also paddle and you are staying in Langeac, you can pick them up in Prades and just keep on going till Langeac. The following strech is a lot easier, but there is 1 grade 3 rapid which is about 500 meters after leaving Prades. In Langeac keep to the river right as there is a weir. This has a boat slide which is good fun, but at the bottom keep left, as otherwise you will come into an eddy at the fish steps, which is very hard to get out of. Just after the weir there is another drop which is about 1m high, but has a quite strong stopper and some metal strainers sticking in to it from left and right, so get some speed and keep in the middle of the river.
I have only paddled the Monistrol Gorge once at low water levels, so my description may be very far from the reality at different water levels, so be careful. I have paddled the second stretch at several water levels between low and medium.
On the Allier you should always have ok water levels, because of the dam at Monistrol which releases at about 10 am, so the highest water level is at about 11 am in Prades and 13 am in Langeac.