Experience Canoe Kayak is a Non Profit association offering fun, safe and educational experiences.
The association is a cumulative effort between Myself Adrian Durrant and my partner Jenny Ridley each bringing a individual skill set to the association.
Over the past few years both myself and Jenny have traveled a lot, paddling and enjoying the outdoors.
A new adventure, and Europe seems like the obvious plan, where everything is just a drive away no need for flights, and ferries. The opportunity to just hop in the van with everything you need and travel.
We set up the Association Experience Canoe Kayak in a small village of Noyers sur Cher, We had visited the region before and had found that there is little opportunity or facility to canoe locally with the vast river Cher on the doorstep we put our heads together to put a plan in place.
One of our goals was to promote Paddlesport within the local community, by showing people what is close to home showing them places they have never seen yet on their own doorstep. We had a huge push on promoting activities for people with disabilities.
Proving that Paddlesport can be accessible. This we have achieved with Jenny Ridley, as one of the top facilitators of adaptive outdoor learning, there really is no one better to promote accessibility. understanding injuries and needs as a Rehabilitation Specialist and offering coaching and support as a Double Paralympian, high performance athlete and Coach to some of the top athletes. Jenny has a host of experience but a love for water and paddlesports.
We have spent time building links with other local associations, we decided we wanted to use all of our own experiences to help others and teach them what we love about the sport.
The Core activity of our association is open canoe hire trips on the picturesque River Cher, as well as sit on top hire from our canal side base.
We have a number of other more specialist options available with a number of river waves when the levels rise on the river Cher makes it the perfect location for freestyle camps and only a drive to any other River in Europe makes central France an ideal base of activities.
We have started to put in place multi day trips on the river Cher, canoeing and camping. With a variety of routes available, following the River Cher along its course.
We are one of the only providers to offer a full access guide for each of our trips online. Outlining the suitability and accessibility of each of our trips, and offering a bespoke trips suitable for individual needs, this is something Jenny has worked very hard to create and we are proud to offer.
”We aim to make as many activities as accessible as possible and can discuss any issues in depth whether a trip on the Canal or one of our alpine paddling trips we want to prove people are capable of participating by eliminating barriers.”
Since moving to France we have been working hard to learn the language. With enough French to make a conversation, we are picking it up quickly. With many clients also keen to practice their English it can get confusing. But the worry of a language barrier is something we have accepted and working on.
We have already made a number of friends here, who are all very supportive of us and the adventure which makes things much easier as they are always happy to assist. Everyday challenges like ordering in shops or big tasks like building the website we have overcome with patience practice and at times little google translate.
We have found it best to give it a try whether ordering lunch or buying stationary, most of the time people will help you. Everyone we have met has been polite and helpful and clients love that we want to learn. The Language has been the single biggest barrier, but its been a challenge, and the sense of achievement after a successful phone conversation or booking is always a great feeling.
As well as the local paddling Experience Canoe Kayak are offering alpine adventures with the focus on taking people to some of our favourite places with Oetz one of our favoured destinations.
We are really running these trips as experiences. We want to really show you what we love about a region with a mix of time on the river and visiting some of our favourite spots, the sight and smells or just the views. Many paddlers visit a region without ever exploring outside the river bed and campsite.
A huge draw to living in France for ourselves is the opportunity to drive anywhere, load up the van and the dogs and head. To Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, anywhere we want. Having both myself and Jenny competed internationally in numerous sports we have many friends all over Europe. The opportunity to visit them and see them has been a major motivation. With every trip comes a new adventure.
We currently have over 50 boats between 3-4 seat Canoes, Sit on tops, Junior, Adult and Family, River kayaks, and other Specialist boats we can cater for upwards of 80 persons on the water at any one time.
As well as our land based offerings through Pilates, Yoga and functional movement sessions the base can be a hive of activity.
We have a couple of vehicles our trusty white van, Blue 9 seat Bus and Trailer so we can move people and boats easily wherever they need to be.
Our first season was hampered with a bad start, floods across central France left us looking at the Cher running in excess of 800 Cumecs (our typical summer level is closer to 10 Cumecs) Luckily the Canal held, and gave us an outlet to get boats on the water. As the levels dropped the sun started to show and gave us a busy August.
The main section we use is between Chabris and St Aignan. This Stretch is fantastic for its sights and sounds. The fauna and flora have been virtually undisturbed, unlike other busier sections of the river. We are also lucky that the stretch we use contains no weirs, (ecluses) making it safe and friendly for all the family.
During the summer season we aim to get both tourists and locals out to experience the beautiful river, using this income generated to then fund our community programmes. working with schools and associations to introduce them to the outdoors through educative lectures and experiences.
Take a look at our Donate a Place page – HERE
Over the coming year we have a number of other projects we want to complete both personal and to increase business but keeping the focus very much on the community we really want to get as many people on the water as possible whilst allowing us to enjoy the French climate and paddling opportunities.
Moving to France has been a huge step from the get go it was never our greatest plan but we have turned it into what is a continuing adventure.
We have made France our home and we welcome you to join us to Experience what we are lucky to see every day.
If anyone is interested in coming over for a canoe experience please check out our web page and get in touch we want to be a French base for Irish paddlers to drop in on their way to other places or to spend time with us exploring the region.
A huge thank you has to go out to the brands and companies who have supported us with this adventure so far and looking forward to a successful 2017
To all the friends we have made along the way and people who have joined us this season Thank You and we hope to see you all again in 2017!