Home Culture European river retreats you can enjoy at home

European river retreats you can enjoy at home

by Francesca 21st April 2020
River Dordogne at Beynac

In our series of armchair adventures, we bring all the different types of Eurocamp experience right to your front door. Explore Mediterranean beaches, the tops of the Alps, and beauty spots tucked away in Europe’s countryside from the comfort and safety of your sofa. And with 48 parcs alongside or near one, we’re casting off with rivers.

Whether wild and wilful, or placid and peaceful, they snake through our subconscious and instantly soothe away our stresses. So sit back, relax, and drift away!

Listen to the sounds of the river

There’s something about the sound of a river. Something deep within us that draws us near to them for comfort. A spell alongside a river, and we’re cleansed, refreshed and ready to take on the world again. Press play, close your eyes and enjoy a chorus of blissful river sounds – babbling water, a gentle breeze through the overhanging trees, and the chirruping of river birds. Suddenly, the real world seems a long way away.

Fly away along the Loire

At over one thousand kilometres from sea to source, the Loire is France’s longest river. They call it the Garden of France – it’s probably more like its hosepipe.  Sail or drive along its length and you’ll soon see why. Its banks are home to legendary wine-growing regions such as Muscadet, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, and, higher up, perch over 400 fairy-tale chateaux. Take a seat as this video flies you from the river mouth at St Nazare, to the hinterlands of central France.

Feel the spray on your face on a kayak trip

The Gorge du Verdon is known as the Grand Canyon of Europe, and with good reason. It’s a dramatic fissure of limestone, with hanging buttresses, arches and deep clefts of towering rock, and a raging river beneath. Hang on tight as you’re transported into the driver’s seat, and become an intrepid kayaker tackling its course. Pass ‘The Styx’ en route – this deep undercut cave is tricky for even skilled paddlers to navigate, and has been known to swallow boats whole! Hang on to your hats!

Pause to take in the beauty of the Ardeche

Move around this image to take your own virtual tour of the dramatic landscapes, emerald-tinted waters, and limestone caves of the Ardèche. It’s a land of adventure, where in the morning you could be discovering hidden coves in a kayak, and the afternoon hiking to the summit of a volcano. Imagine you’re there on the sandy river bank, resting underneath the sun after a day exploring the wilderness.

Travel back to your childhood with a good book

Yes, we’re sure you read Wind in the Willows as a child. But revisit this magical and meditative book as an adult and you’ll be glad you did. “So – this – is – a – river?” asks the Mole … “The River” the Rat corrects him. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.” Well, why would he? And why would we? The Wind in the Willows is available as a free audiobook on Librivox.

Indulge in a sweet romance with Chocolat

For us, there is only one film that truly captures the joy of those languid, lazy afternoons spent picnicking alongside the banks of the Dordogne river. Head straight to Chocolat, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It’s the story of a single mother and her daughter, who arrive at a sleepy French village and shock it back to life.  Filming took place in the village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and on the Dordogne River itself. Head to Beynac, and take a walk along the the Rue De L’ancienne Post where Johnny Depp sails away. You can retrace his journey on a boat trip in a gabarre, a traditional barge, from the banks of the town.

Taste the flavours of the Dordogne

coq au vin in a pot

Image courtesy of Ryan Merkley/Wikimedia Commons.

Hearty meals, rich flavours and fresh produce are the hallmarks of traditional Dordogne cuisine. We tried this recipe for Coq Au Vin and we promise it’s just as good as the riverside cafes of the Dordogne make it. Serve it with a chunk of crusty bread, dine alfresco, leave the soothing river sounds playing in the background, and it feels like the real thing.

Raise a glass to the mighty Rhine

On long summer days by the river, nothing hits the spot more than a glass of light, crisp, refreshing white wine. Try a glass of Riesling and let the delicate flavours transport your tastebuds to the vineyards along the river Rhine as it runs from Germany, through Austria and Switzerland and into France.

Continue exploring…

Take a look at the Dordogne, Loire or Ardeche regions to delve deeper into Europe’s great rivers. Or watch this video for more destination inspiration.

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