Location: Southwestern France near Carcassonne and the Spanish Border
The Aude river flows through France’s southwestern Aude region, near the border with Spain and the Pyrenees Mountains. The river is near the town of Carcassonne, an impressive walled city with formidable turrets, towers and a fortress restored to glory in the 19th century. The town’s beauty and remarkable architecture landed it on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Level of Difficulty: Class III-IV / Beginner
Whitewater rafters have two options for Aude River rafting trips. Those wanting intermediate class III whitewater can run the Gorges de St. George section, which flows near the village of Axat. Somewhat more challenging is the gorge called the “Defile de Pierre Lys,” which is a section higher up on the Aude River. The Defile de Pierre Lys section has class III-IV rapids, making accessible to both adventurous beginners and experienced rafters.
Scenery: French-Mediterranean Vineyards
The Aude River flows 170 km from its source in the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea. Along its journey, the Aude River flows through southwestern France’s important wine and grape growing region—wine connoisseurs will recognize the famous vintages of the Languedoc-Roussillon, whose vines thrive in the warm Mediterranean climate.
Season: May – September
Aude River rafting trips tend to be short, one-day affairs. Many commercial outfitters on the River l’Aude offer longer itineraries that include whitewater rafting days as well as canyoning, fun-yaking (called “hot-dogging” in France), and canoeing.