Three years ago we came to Saint Antonin Noble Val, a small town on the banks of the River Aveyron, which flows down from the Cévennes into the Garonne and so out past Bordeaux into the Atlantic. That time we came with the Equipe Hazell, led by the fabled Capitaine Robert. This time, with a few days to spend between attending an end of year performance at the Ecole Internationale de Théatre Jacques Lecoq, Louise and I came by ourselves after visiting friends in Mirepoix.
We thought we should like to visit the Aveyron and Saint Anonin NV again and canoe a little way down this splendid river, home to the beaver like so many other rivers in France .
I forgot to mention that this stretch of the Aveyron runs through a deep limestone gorge with fine cliffs.
We paddled a canoe of a design with open scuttles, so water poured in from the beginning. That was the downside, but these canoes are virtually unswampable and can hardly be turned over. The water was warm: 22 degrees Celsius we were told, so wet clothes were not a hazard that might lead to hypothermia, only a certain discomfort.
After successfully shooting various rapids we arrived at our journey's end and enjoyed some coffee and Armagnac in a thoughtfully placed café.
But where were the beavers? We saw no sign of them. There were some signs of grazing, but thought that this looked like the work of deer. Perhaps the population is sparse, or the animals are mainly elsewhere?
Que pensez-vous, Jean-Pierre?