Canoeing in France

Float along beautiful south-west France, where pink limestone cliffs, medieval towns and fortified castles await. Our canoeing holidays in France are great fun and ideal for families with teenage children. Gentle paddling by day, quality hotels by night, and various cycling options too!

Our canoeing holidays primarily take place on the Dordogne, a river in a county of the same name. The inviting warm waters of the Dordogne are visited by many canoers each year, with expertise that ranges from beginner to advanced levels. If you're a novice, we'll take care to ensure you know how to handle the canoe before you start your adventure.

You'll use your new mode of transport to explore the traditional villages, chateaux, vineyards and caves dotted throughout this region. You can take your pick between a holiday where you'll reach each destination primarily by canoe, or one where it is one activity among several others.

For further details about our canoeing holidays in France, simply browse the great packages we offer below. You can also take a look at our activities section for further information about how our canoeing holidays work. See our France page for further examples of exciting trips you can take with us.

What can I see on a canoeing trip in the Dordogne?

Grottes de Lacave

Go deep into the hillside on an electric train and discover the wonders of 12 limestone caverns. But this isn't just any cave; one of its caverns glows radiantly with ultraviolet light!

The Perigord Noir

So named for the dense oak forest that darkens the valleys of this region, the Perigord Noir is full of dramatic, sweeping scenery. While canoeing on the Dordogne, you'll marvel at the ancient castles atop limestone cliffs and serene villages stacked up on cliffsides from riverbanks. Much of the Hundred Years War played out here, and the many fortified castles are a testament to this.


The Perigord Noir's main town, Sarlat's medieval architecture is so well preserved that it's often used as a filming location. It was built around a sizeable Benedictine monastery and has seen a lot of history, affected by the French Revolution, the Great Plague and the Hundred Years War.


The medieval 'town of seven towers' cuts an unmissable shape for itself in the skyline. Martel became an important source of truffles in the 19th century and they were transported out to other regions via steam train. You can relive this history from a sightseeing steam train that trundles along the cliff edge. Come at the right time and you might even be able to watch the traditional truffle market take place.

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Canoeing on the Dordogne
France: The Dordogne

Canoeing on the Dordogne

A safe, undemanding canoeing activity holiday on the most celebrated river in France. This is a great choice for families as all hotels have pools and, for a limited period, all customers will have the option to hire a fully kitted-out bike for all non-canoe days, making it easy to explore locally too.



  • Holiday codeB08DO
  • Holiday typeSelf-guided canoeing
  • Duration8 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From £1739per person, tour only

  • 51 Reviews
  • All accommodation
  • All continental breakfasts and 3 evening meals
  • Route notes provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Dordogne Activities
France: The Dordogne

Dordogne Activities

Combine three of our exciting holidays to experience the ultimate activity holiday in the Dordogne. Two days of safe, leisurely canoeing with a choice of easy walking or cycling on the other days.



  • Holiday codeM08DO
  • Holiday typeMulti activity holiday
  • Duration8 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Excellent for
  • From £1719per person, tour only

  • 29 Reviews
  • All accommodation
  • All continental breakfasts and 5 evening meals
  • Bike hire included
  • Headwater navigation provided
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

    Canoeing Holidays in France

    Overall customer rating, based on 80 reviews

Frequently asked questions

Where can you canoe in France?

There are several rivers in France where the conditions are ideal for canoeing, including a favourite of ours: the Dordogne. Its clear, warm waters make the conditions very hospitable for those wanting to venture out with a paddle.

There are sections of the river that are slow and easy for beginners who just want to try something new and take France at a leisurely pace. There are also faster sections with rapids for more advanced canoeists seeking those thrills.

We have holidays available that can accommodate people of all levels. If you have children above the age of 12, a self-guided family canoeing holiday to Dordogne could be a great fit

If you want something slightly more active, take a look at our canoeing packages with an Activity Level of 2.

What's the best canoe route in Dordogne?

This depends on which sights you want to see. The Meyronne-Sarlat route is a popular one for those who want to get around entirely by canoe. The fascinating underground world of Grottes de Lacave is en route, as is the famed Périgord countryside and dozens of riverside chateaux.

What time of year is best for a canoe trip in France?

While we know some people enjoy battling the elements, our canoe trips to France run between June and September. This means you can enjoy pleasant conditions and more hours of sunlight as you explore the Dordogne and miss the rainiest part of the year. 

What should I wear for my France canoe holiday?

Firstly, make sure you bring your swimwear as a bottom layer when canoeing and for any pools you may choose to take a dip in at your hotels. You can wear your normal summer clothes over the top for your canoe exertions — we'll provide the buoyancy aid and helmet.

You'll be spending a lot of time outside, so we highly recommend you come prepared with suncream, hats and sunglasses. It certainly won't hurt to carry a light raincoat in case of rain too.

How many days do I need for my canoe holiday in France?

If you spend just over a week in Dordogne, it gives you a chance to really unwind on the river, forget about the daily commitments back home and see plenty of stunning scenery and historical buildings. Our holidays are designed to help you get the most out of your France canoe trip and really get a feel for the location and its local culture.

Dordogne is famous for its wines, truffles, foie gras, cheese and honey, so another advantage is that this gives you the ideal length of time to have a taste of some if not all of these delicacies.

Why choose Headwater for your canoe trip to France?

Having spent nearly 40 years crafting itineraries for our travellers, you can rest assured we won't steer you wrong when you book your France canoeing holiday with Headwater. Book online today and start getting excited about your trip. Here are a few reasons why we're a good choice:

  • Satisfied customers - We've gained a reputation for high-quality customer service, as shown by our rating on Feefo.

  • Exciting destinations - Using our five-step approval process, we ensure we take you to some of the most awe-inspiring, interesting locations. We also put a lot of thought into your accommodation so you can relax in style on your evenings in France.

  • Award-winning provider - The quality of our activity holidays around the world has gained us recognition from the British Travel Awards.

  • Sustainability at our core - We don't want to be another travel company that leaves the environment worse off. That's why we're working towards becoming Nature Net Positive and operating in line with a structured People, Places & Planet plan.

  • ABTA and ATOL-protected - You can book in confidence, knowing that the appropriate protections are in place. Read more to find out about your key rights.

  • Helping communities - We aim to have a positive impact on the communities we operate in, so we've set up the Exodus Travels Foundation to do our bit for conservation causes and disaster relief.