Navigation conditions on the Ardèche

Vallon Pont d’Arc and the Gorges de l’Ardèche are fortunate to benefit from a Mediterranean climate, marked by long periods of heat and occasional Cevennes precipitation episodes. These conditions are ideal for canoeing in the Ardèche. We often hear in the media or on social networks that summer is marked by drought and a lack of water in the rivers of southern France.

The Ardèche, unlike other rivers, benefits from a guaranteed water level allowing the practice of canoeing. How to explain this specificity?

The watershed of the Ardèche is organized around 4 dams, so a low water support ensures a minimum level to the river during the summer period. This sustained flow is reinforced by the natural flow of the river and its many tributaries (Chassezac, Beaume, Volane…), but also the multiple sources and resurgences present in the Gorges de l’Ardèche. It has never happened that canoeing is impossible because of the lack of water in the Gorges de l’Ardèche. Of course water levels fluctuate during the year, but each period will have its charm to discover the joys of canoeing in the Ardèche.

In addition, the latest scientific studies conducted by the EPTB (water agency in charge of the Ardèche watershed) show that the level of annual precipitation will be maintained by 2050, unlike other French regions, which is still good news.

To have a precise idea of water levels there are specialized sites such as Hydro Réel. You should know that the practice of canoeing in the Gorges de l’Ardèche is regulated by a prefectural decree. It is therefore possible to make a canoe descent in Ardèche below a rating of 0.50 meters for descents of 7, 24 or 31 km and -0.30 meters for descents of 5, 12 or 36 km. But it is quite possible to canoe at much lower levels.

See the water level live on the Hydro Réel website.

When we talk about water levels, we also think of bathing water quality. The quality of the water of the Ardèche is taken very seriously by canoe rental companies and professionals in tourism. Controls are carried out regularly by the ARS and show a good quality of the water of the Ardèche as evidenced by the obtaining of the blue flag for the two beaches of Saint Martin d’Ardèche at the exit of the Gorges de l’Ardèche, or the unique and exceptional fauna and flora of the Gorges de l’Ardèche. Beware of false information about the pollution of the river and the presence of cyanobacteria.

Do not hesitate to enjoy by canoe or kayak the good conditions of the Gorges de l’Ardèche, by booking one of our canoe descents.