3 places to go rafting in Auvergne

Faire du rafting en Auvergne

Visiting Haute-Loire, Allier or Puy-de-Dome? Discover the region from the water with a rafting trip in Auvergne!

The Auvergne region is criss-crossed by numerous rivers. Although not all of them are navigable, there are some stretches that lend themselves perfectly to water sports activities. Rafting in the Auvergne is a great way to combine the discovery of the countryside with a sporting activity.

So if you’re looking for a fun activity to do in summer, choose rafting in the Auvergne! With family or friends, you’re sure to have a great time.

1. The Sioule gorges

Les Gorges de la Sioule

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Leonid Andronov

Level: easy

Duration: between 2h30 and 5h

Distance: 10 to 20 kilometers

The Sioule is a tributary of the Allier and flows through the department of the same name. The Sioule gorges start in the Puy-de-Dôme department, at the Queille dam. They end at Ebreuil in the Allier. Rafting is available from Châteauneuf-les-Bains to Jenzat. Several routes are available aboard a raft for up to 12 people. You can choose between different 10-kilometer circuits, or combine several over a full day.

The routes

Starting from Saint-Gal-sur-Sioule, you’ll travel 10 kilometers downstream to Ebreuil. Here, the river is rather calm, with only a few rapids in between. As a result, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the river’s natural beauty. You’ll discover the megalith site and the Bruyère moors at Péraclos. The many small beaches are also ideal for a relaxing break.

For a sportier route, leave from Menat to Saint-Gal-sur-Sioule. On this stretch, the river is more turbulent, which will delight thrill-seekers. What’s more, there’s a greater chance of tipping over, but also of sharing a good laugh! And if you like, you can combine the two routes for a full day’s descent.

Throughout the day, you can watch birds of prey circling atop the cliffs. You’ll pass between granite rocks, witness to the activity of Auvergne volcanoes in the past.

For the 10-kilometer routes, allow half a day and 2h30 of actual navigation. The full-day 20-kilometer trip will take you 5 hours on the water. So don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch!

2. The descent of the Allier

Rafting en Auvergne : Gorges de l'Allier

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pecold

Level: intermediate

Duration: 3 hours

Distance: 12 kilometers

We now take you down the Allier gorges in the Haute-Loire. The rafting route measures 12 kilometers and takes you from Monistrol d’Allier to Prades. As you navigate this stretch, you’ll discover the Haut-Allier and the best white-water rafting spot in the Auvergne. The river is class 3 and 4, with a maximum level of 5, so you’re sure to get a thrill out of rafting in the Auvergne!

The route

You’ll take your place in the raft in the company of friends or family. The boat can carry up to 8 people. Here, you’ll alternate between calm and turbulent passages. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery of one of the region’s most remote areas. Europe’s last strain of wild salmon migrates here every year to spawn. That’s the quality of the water and the tranquillity that awaits you on this rafting day in the Auvergne!

Along the way, you’ll discover exceptional landscapes. You’ll sail through volcanic rock and basalt organs, where the Allier dug its bed thousands of years ago. In places, you’re overlooked by the mythical Cévenol railway line. You’ll pass charming hamlets with stone houses, all in a bucolic atmosphere.

Calm passages are interspersed with rapids with evocative names: rince-sinus, la benne, la roche qui pleure… In addition to these hectic sections, thrill-seekers can stop along the way to attempt their finest acrobatics from the top of the rocks. Another advantage: there are also small beaches where you can stop for a bite to eat or simply relax.

If you’re lucky, you may see crayfish, or even otters. The end of the trip is calmer, and the less chilly can jump into the water and glide to the finish. Finally, if you still have some energy left, you can continue downstream by kayak to Langeac.

3. Down the Loire

La Loire

Photo credit: Flickr – Dominique

Level: easy to intermediate

Duration: between 3 and 6 hours

Distance: 10 to 24 kilometers

The Loire rises at Mont-Gerbier-de-Jonc and flows through the whole of the Haute-Loire department. A number of different routes enable you to discover this beautiful département on the water. For a first rafting experience, the route between Vorey and Chamalières is ideal. The river is calm, with only a few quiet rapids. The 11-kilometer trip takes half a day.

Now’s your chance to learn how to paddle a raft!

Other routes

A second route takes you from Gorges du Lion through Peyredeyre to Lavoûte-sur-Loire. For 10 kilometers, you’ll enjoy the countryside surrounding Le Puy-en-Velay, whose cathedral is a Unesco World Heritage site. Arriving at Lavôute-sur-Loire, you can admire one of the Loire‘s earliest castles, Lavoûte-Polignac. Enclosed by one of the river’s meanders, its imposing 45-metre silhouette can be glimpsed from your boat.

For a slightly longer and, above all, sportier route, opt for the section between Goudet and Coubon. You’re upstream from the river, when it’s still raging. The scenery is wild, and you’ll cross gorges deep in the forest. You’ll discover villages perched on rocky spurs, and a few castles.

Practical information

Downhill rates

Sioule (10 km ): €20 per person

Allier (12 km): €49 per person

Loire River:

  • Vorey-Chamalières discovery trail (11 km): €35 per person
  • Gorges du Lion – Peyredeyre – Lavoûte-sur-Loire (10 km): €45 per person
  • Goudet – Coubon (24 km): €55 per person

Prices include transport from the center to the starting point and back, as well as the services of the coxswain. Equipment hire is also included: life jackets, helmets, wetsuits… The organizations also offer special formulas if you want to privatize rafting for a particular event. So don’t hesitate to contact them to discuss your project (birthday, stag or hen party…).

Additional information

  • A minimum age of 15 is required for the descent of the Sioule gorges, and 10/12 for the Allier gorges.
  • Rafting in the Auvergne requires no previous experience, apart from the ability to swim.
  • All rafting activities in the Auvergne are supervised by qualified instructors.
  • Rafting in the Auvergne is generally enjoyed between April and mid-October.
  • The rafting centers in the Auvergne specialize in outdoor activities. You can set up a day or multi-day program with them. This is your chance to try out other whitewater sports such as canoeing, hot-dogging or canyoning, as well as climbing, mountain biking…
  • Don’t forget: swimsuit, sneakers, change of clothes and shoes, snack if necessary.