Paddle De Nuitcssebastien GuillotPaddle De Nuitcssebastien Guillot
©Paddle De Nuitcssebastien Guillot

The Gorges du Tarn by paddle and by night

Midnight paddle

I’d already canoed and kayaked down the Gorges du Tarn on numerous occasions – a must when you live in Aveyron or Lozère! However, this is a stand-up paddle baptism… and at night!

A sensation of lightness on a flying paddle

Meet the wildlife of our rivers!

A symbiosis with the omnipresent nature…

The linear trail of the Gorges du Tarn

An open-air show at sunset
19h La Malène
A little training in calm water, a way of mastering standing/kneeling positions, current/counter-current, paddle handling and… balance on this sort of large surfboard.

Neoprene wetsuit, helmet, vest, water shoes, all set! Off we go for an 8km descent, between La Malène and the Cirque des Baumes.

Although it’s not yet dark, the Gorges du Tarn are already deserted, ours and ours alone! We glide quietly along the emerald, translucent waters of the Tarn. This is a great opportunity to spot butterworts, carnivorous plants ready to swallow midges and other insects. Bon appétit ladies!

With the shadows of the setting sun, it’s easy to understand the names given by our ancestors to the rocks sculpted by nature! This activity is in fact an open-air spectacle.

And there… a beaver family! I almost fall off the paddle, so excited. While the adults quickly disappear underwater, a young beaver accepts my presence at his side. #So cute, you just want to give him a big hug! Long hunted, beavers are now protected and make their living in the Gorges du Tarn, de la Jonte et de la Dourbie…
It’s time to light the paddle… a magical moment.
I feel like I’m back in the last century, when the caussenards fished here with luminades. At the bow of their flat-bottomed boats, they burned a few pieces of wood. The light attracted trout and other fish, which the fisherman harpooned. No engine on these boats, just a wooden pole to navigate… like me tonight, standing on my paddle! And my luminous paddle lets me glimpse chevennes, barbels, trouts, but for the pleasure of the eyes only!

The nocturnal fauna begins its day: toads, herons, owls, crickets are here. A nocturnal awakening of nature, and an awakening of the senses for me! The landmarks are quite different at night, and the sound of the little rapids seems to me more like Niagara Falls!

The crossing of the Détroits des Gorges du Tarn is impressive… of beauty and thrills. The Grotte de la Momie guards the entrance and sets the mood… the canyon is narrow, the cliffs seem immense, the slightest sound echoes, bats graze us benevolently.

At the exit of the Détroits, the Gorges du Tarn open up to reveal a magnificent starry sky.

Navigation could be done by moonlight.

Did you know that we’re in an International Starry Sky Reserve? the 2nd largest in France, the 13th largest in the world.

Instant ZEN

The finish is near

As if to slow down the moment, I let the SUP carry me, paddle off, and enjoy this zen, natural moment. With a very light breeze rising, I feel as if I’m floating in the air as on the water. The paddle is like a flying carpet!

Cirque des Baumes: stop. Head for the return shuttle…

This SUP descent of the Gorges du Tarn allowed me to re-discover the Gorges from another angle, with night navigation that was ultimately easy to access, like the course.

The sensations are very different from those of canoeing or kayaking; the symbiosis with nature omnipresent.

Even if you master stand-up paddling, I’d advise you to be accompanied by a pro who knows the terrain, the rapids…

Continue the adventure