The wild side of France
As I mentioned in my last post, La Corrèze region of France is an idyllic green destination whether you’re looking to chill and take in the beautiful scenery or if you’re looking for a little bit of wilderness. Here are a few things I got up to that unleashed my adventurous side!
In a Tree House!
We stayed in three different places on our Corrèze trip but nothing came anywhere as close to cool than this treehouse cabin experience. I could write a whole post on this but in short, Hetre Sous Le Charme is an eco tourism project which is the brianchild of two amazing young French girls. I secretly want to run away and live with them because I’ve never seen two people so happy! The girls welcome you at their office drive you to one of 5 cabins on stilts in the woods…
All the cabins are so protected from trees that they’re each incredibly private and secluded. Everything inside the treehouse has been built from scratch and considered for its environmental impact which is why you can only use the lights after 8pm, use a gas heater for warmth and you do your thing in a sawdust toilet. There’s really nothing better than this to get you in touch with nature. Sit out on your balcony and experience the vastness of the valley below you and watch the birds of prey circle above. That weird noise? That’s nature mate. Scream if you like, it’s pretty liberating!
I slept in a princess-like bed and awoke early and excited for the first meal of the day: the much hyped ‘basket breakfast’! Take a look over the edge of your balcony from 8 am and you’ll spot your grub hooked on the end of a pulley rope. Wind it up and enjoy freshly baked muffins and crispy baguette. Actual heaven!
Stay from 135 euro per night. You will need your own car.
Rowing a Gabaro Down the Dordogne
When I first heard I was going back to the Dordogne river, years worth of summer holiday memories came rushing back. My favourites involved kayaking for hours down the beautiful river and spending meals overlooking the estuaries. What can I say, I just loved rowing ok!
I couldn’t wait to get my oars back in the water but rather than a canoe, my travel buddies and I were faced with a Gabaro. This boat is small version of the massive barges that strong men rowed down (and up!) the river in, delivering timber to Bordeaux for wine barrels back in the day.
My muscles were treated to a well earned workout but it wasn’t just the size of the boat that made things more challenging, try rowing through strips of rapids! If you’re looking for a bit of mild exhilaration, this is for you. I couldn’t stop laughing! Take a look at me having a go and the pretty village we chilled out in afterwards.
Down the Dordogne Valley
The Corrèze region is famed for its countryside and conservation. Join one of the waking tours that will take you up and down the valley to explore the various hillsides. On our walk we were taken down to a secret garden, an old stepped allotment used to farm fruit and vegetables by the local peasant population years ago. You can even see the remains of their tiny stone one-room settlements that used to house around 10 people at a time!
Feel the strange change in temperature as you make your way down. A micro-climate of warm air gets trapped in the valley making it unusually adept for cultivation. Weird!
Walking tours by locals in various locations.Visit the tourist offices for details
A Picnic Amongst the Trees
After a brisk walk up and down the valley, it’s time to fill up. On the regions’ delicacies that is. Wine, cheese, pâté, soufflé and duck are all just about carry-able so pack them in your car and then set out a nice spread. Don’t hold back on the courses, you’re in France after all!
Pick up your supplies from the local farmers markets.
Corrèze is the place to fly. Yep, just book your slot, get driven up to the highest hill in the region, get strapped in and off you fly! 5 minutes later you’re at the bottom wanting to do it all over again. Sign me up!
Of course sign up I did, except our flight was unfairly cancelled last minute due to wind speeds being too high. Gutted! Our would-have-been instructor didn’t let no wind stop him from at least showing us the kit though and kindly unrolled the ‘planche’ and started kicking around in the gusts. Next time I 100% want to get my feet off the ground!
Book with the paragliding school online. Flight from 60 euros.
A Century-Old Quarry
Ok so this may not be every twenty-something’s idea of a holiday destination but stick with me. No matter what your interests, you’ll no doubt be in awe at Les Pans de Travassac, the beautiful slate quarry which from above looks like a tiger has scratched slices out of the ground.
The incredible pans of ‘waste rock’ have remained standing since they were first excavated around at the beginning of the 20th century. Years worth of mining the lucrative strips of slate, has made way for pathways allowing you to wind your way around as if in a film set. Look at the rock face carefully to see the dynamite blasts carved in the rock and imagine how the pans have moved vertically since starting life as sedimentary rock. Geography geeks, this one goes out to you.
Once you’ve sufficiently imagined you’re in Jurassic World, watch the artisans splice slabs of rock down into beautifully shaped tiles in the traditional fashion. After two years of solid work by 4 men, the company re-roofed the whole village of the Mont Saint Michel. Now that’s a lot of tiles. Have a go at cutting one yourself and you’ll see that trad techniques are harder than they look.
Tours are 1.5 hours long from 8 euros per person between May and August. Check the website for opening times.
The Waterfalls in Spring
The best way to discover the Corrèze region is by car and on most days you’ll find yourself winding along narrow lanes scooting from village to village. Be sure to add Gimel-Les-Cascades to one of your routes, parking up in the town and then walking down to the entrance to the waterfall park.
Taking a walking trail down the valley, you’ll see 3 amazing waterfalls of different kinds including the ‘horses’ tail and the ‘inferno’ at the end. Your first point of view though is arguably the most awesome – the Big Jump. See it in Spring and you’ll be treated to the gushiest of all the falls!
Open every day from March to November. Check website for latest prices. Bring a jacket!
Thanks so much to the Corrèze Tourist Board for inviting me to re-live my school holidays!
Visit their brilliant Corrèze Tourisme website for all other details.