Drôme, sweet Drôme !
Hidden between the Vercors mountains and Provence, the Drôme is one of the rare French rivers which can paddled all year long. From Die to the Rhône valley, the river offers 60 Km of easy and scenic paddling through vineyards and mountains. In Spring, many beautiful tributaries attract paddlers from Europe's four corners.
Topo Express :
Drôme and tributaries.
The descriptions contained in this topo are given for information only. Rivers are changing all the time. The author is not responsible for the possible description mistakes.
The Drôme is an easy river where canoe rentals are available with or without river guide (be careful anyway). Drôme tributaries should be run only by experienced paddlers.
The Drôme can be paddled between Die and Crest : 30 Km of class 2, small 3 with good water levels. Between Crest and the Rhône valley : 17 Km of class 2.
After Crest, some little dams should be scouted (1 Km after Crest and 1 Km before the Rhône). Average flow : 30m3/s. Summer flow : less than 10m3/sec.
Easy river. Some waves with a good water level. The Drôme river is really appreciated by European tourists (many canoe rentals available). Beautiful landscapes.
Located 20 minutes from Die, near Châtillon-en-Diois. The Archiane is one of the most beautiful rivers of France ! The river is only running in Spring with the Vercors snowmelt. The landscapes are amazing. The water gauge is located near "Menée", close to a tiny power station. 50 cm : minimum level. 65/70 : perfect. 80 and more : pushy ! The road follows the river.
Archiane / Menée : 3,5 Km of class 4. A pure jewel ! The first 500 meters are the most technical. Then the rapids never stop. Just pay attention to the small dam (visible from the road) : easy to run with a normal water level.
Menée / Mensac : 3,5 Km of class 3. Many tree branches. Nice but less Alpin than the first part. You can paddle the Bez river after the confluence and stop near Chatillon-en-Diois campsite.
Near Châtillon-en-Diois. Commonly paddled after its confluence with the Archiane : 5 Km of class 3 until Châtillon then 5 Km of class 2 till the Drôme. The first part is nice. Expect many branches. Some big pipes may be present in a quarry in the third part (portage).
Drôme left side tributary. Confluence near Vercheny (10 Km above Saillans). You can access to the Gorges via Espenel Bridge (follow "St-Nazaire-le-Désert" direction).
Beautiful and scenic class 2/3 (4-) river. Pay attention to the fact this river doesn't rise the same way than the Drôme left side tributaries (no snowmelt).
- St-Nazaire-le-Désert till the unrunnable located 100 meters above the Gorges bridge (bridge located 300 meters before a small road climbing to "Rimon et Savel"). The unrunnable is obvious from the road, not from the river... Caution ! 14 Km section. Class 2/3. The first part is easy in a wider valley. Then the river flows in a nice canyon, very easy, class 2/3 (branches and curves).
- Unrunnable rapid / bridge till the Drôme river (most commonly paddled section) : 7 Km of class 3. The first 3 km are rocky then the landscape is amazing and the river easier.
Drôme right side tributary. Confluence at Mirabel-et-Blacons (5km above Crest). Only runnable in Spring and Fall, and only after rain. Class 2/3 (4). The first part is very remote and beautiful. Fantastic put in below a 50m waterfall ("Chutes de la Druise", 4km after "Plan de Baix"). 20 minutes hike to reach the put in. The first 300m are the hardest (class 4). Then the river is quite narrow and full of branches : be careful! 7km of class 2/3 till Beaufort-sur-Gervanne. Then 10km till the confluence. Many dams to portage (on private property). Be nice to the locals! For some reasons, fishermen would like to keep this river for themselves.