Some of my favourite rivers There are so many river sections, covering all grades and types, and the White Water South Alps guidebook is essential reading. I simply mention here a few of my favourites to give you some ideas...
Briançon Gorge - A lot of the gorges are Grade 4/5 intimidating affairs, but this one is fun from start to end. Almost the perfect alpine continuous grade 3, this is short and sweet and, with an equally short shuttle, it is not unusual to run it a couple of times back to back. I have fond memories of a high water impromptu boater-x race down it with friends!
Lower Guisane - The Guisane is a great river but the very best section is the lower. Getting in just above Le Post Carle and running down to Briançon is fast, continuous Grade 4 and a real test for your skills; this is not a river for just getting away with it, you need to be in control and have a confident roll. But, have a good run and you’ll finish with a beaming smile.
Ubaye Racecourse - A great gateway section for those wanting to try a bit of alpine Grade 4, this is a wonderful day out on a river that has a bit of everything. I would say it is mostly Grade 3/3+ but has a couple of notable Grade 4 rapids to add spice, a few play spots and a spectacular gorge towards the end.
Middle Guil - This is a top contender for what the perfect local run would look like. A fun day out if done in its entirety, or a great end of day blast run from ‘Le Tunnel’ down. Rarely dropping below Grade 3 and Grade 4+ in places, it is a wonderful alpine test piece and for a skilled paddler it will be a highlight of any trip.
Isere - I mention this even though it is not close to the Durance valley because it gives you options. It is a lot further north (3 hours or so via a spectacular drive), so means moving to a new campsite. However, it is dam released throughout the summer so guaranteed water, the slalom course at Bourg Saint Maurice is testing and the paddle down to Centron is super fun! I often use it as an end to a trip, especially if the Durance Valley water levels are dropping off.
Summer Adventures to inspire you to get outside