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White Water Rafting Review


featured in Activity reviews Author Woody K, Les Arcs Reporter Updated

The day started...not brilliantly. It was my day off and my alarm started screaming at me at 7am. It was all good, I was going white water rafting. I hadn’t been white water rafting for 15 years when I was a much younger spritelier version of my now, haggard self, and the rafting was in Australia. In the sun. In 35°C.

I opened the curtains and there it was, the sun! Hoorah! It would be a magnificently sunny day just for me. I dressed in the appropriate shorts and flipflops and on second thoughts grabbed a hoody. Much to my dismay, the sky was darkening the closer I moved to my destination. My boyfriend had informed me that he had to work and so my brother said that he would love to come. Unfortunately the unreliability of said brother is without equal and when I arrived at 8:30 to pick him he was a little worse for wear from the night before. No matter, I would raft alone.

I was headed for the Coureurs de Rivières, a company situated in Bourg Saint Maurice. The Coureurs de Rivières was founded in 1986 and has been offering river sports excursions in France and Northern Canada for over 29 years.  

I found Coureurs de Rivières or ‘River Runners’ with little difficulty and despite its rustic appearance it is not without a quirky, friendly charm. I was greeted by Rémy and Renauld who were very welcoming and gave me a run-down of their operations and a brief tour of the site. I was informed that my trip would be accompanied by a large family and we would be 10 ‘rafters’ plus 3 guides. All of the equipment was provided for by the ‘River Runners’ and there were changing rooms for the more reserved clientele (I did happen to glance up from my phone at one point to be assaulted by three naked bottoms, I am perhaps a little too English for that sight at 9:30am).

We were then split up because some of the group had expressed an interest in Canoe-rafting, so five of our group went in the canoe-rafts and the rest of us were going to have a bash at rafting. Rafting is among 5 of the activities that are on offer at ‘River Runners’. There is Kayaking/canoeing, canyoning, white water swimming or hydro-speeding and parachuting as well. All information about the courses and prices can be found here and there are also some outlines of the different courses, preconditions and prices at the bottom of this article.

The others in the boat were not beginners but were hardly experts either and with my incredibly ancient memory of rafting I was willing to listen to any advice/instruction to prevent me from plunging into the icy waters. There was a brief "How to/Do’s/Don’ts" chat before we were let loose on the rapids and I was relieved to be told that the beginning of the descent was ‘tranquil’ so we had a chance to warm up and get used to the instructions from our lovely (very patient) guide Pierre. There was another guide in our boat, so we were effectively surrounded by experts, which was incredibly reassuring.

I shied away from the front of the boat and opted for a middle position, only to be shunted to the front by the guides. I have to say, it is the best position although it is definitely the wettest! The two people at the front of the boat set the pace for the rest of the rafters, but only after being given instructions whether to paddle forward or back by the ‘rudder’ (Pierre). There were various other instructions but I won’t recount them all to you now, you’ll just have to find out for yourselves!

The weather was not great although there were a couple of patches of sunshine, but not enough to warm the temperature of the water which remained at a punchy 5°C (thank God for neoprene). The water does heat up in the summer, but the pathetically unsunny/stormy June that we have been having did not give us the balmy water that we so desperately wanted. Luckily, we did not fall out of the boat at any point and if any of the rafters would have had their own way, warm and unscathed we would have remained. The guides had other plans... We were to experience the feel of the rapids whilst in the water. We bumped and splashed over about 100m of bubbling, foamy water in the safety of our boat and we then drew up to the bank of the river where we tied the boat off and got out. We then proceeded to walk back up the river to the more ferocious point of the rapids and were told that we had to jump into the middle of the gurgling, thrashing water. I thought it was a joke. However, it is an integral part of rafting to learn how to get back to your raft and swim the rapids in safety.

The guide jumped in first and then we had to volunteer to jump in. Being a trifle madcap, I was ever so reluctant for about 10 seconds, but I threw caution to the wind and was the first one in the water. After having swallowed half the river, I bobbed back to the surface and floated back to the raft. It was incredibly exhilarating and it definitely woke me up. That was not the end of our swimming escapades as we got pushed in by the guides, one at a time and were told to try and get back to the boat so that the others could practice pulling you back in by your lifejacket.

The paddling keeps you pretty warm but after my second ‘dip’ I was starting to shiver. However, we turned a corner and the sun came out and reminded me of why I love the Alps so much. The scenery is so unbelievably spectacular that it is easy to become complacent. Commander Wood is constantly prompting her troops that we should always be mindful of our surroundings. So, I took a moment to look around as we entered the most picturesque part of our journey into the gorges and I realised that I was very lucky and should probably stop whinging about how cold I was.

The other members of our party were rafting for the whole day after their picnic stop in Gothard and I was envious of the fun that they were no doubt going to have. If you’ve never been rafting or if you’ve been rafting everyday for the last 20 years I would recommend ‘River Runners’. They were professional, organised and they made the whole experience wonderfully enjoyable. I need to go back because it has become my new favourite hobby.

  • Junior Course: Bourg St Maurice - Gothard ;10 km of river
  • Duration: 1 hour 15 mins- class2/3
  • Min.Age: 8 years old
  • Price/person : 42 Euros


  • Course: Whole River Descent: Bourg St Maurice - Centron: 20 km of river
  • Duration: 2 hours 15 mins - class : 3/4
  • Min.Age: 12 years old
  • Price/person: 55 Euros


  • Course: Brides les Bains - Moutiers: 8 km of river
  • Duration: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Class: 4 (5 with the rapids of the Velodrome)
  • Min.Age: 15 years old
  • Price/ person: 62 Euros   Departure dependant on demand (6 pers minimum)


  • Course: Haute Isere - Doron de Bozel
  • Duration: Whole day
  • Min.Age: 15 years old
  • Price/ person: 105 Euros Departure dependant on demand (5 pers minimum)


  • Rafting on the Dora - Baltee: Course: 25 km of river
  • Duration: 3 hours 35 mins
  • Class: 4 (5 if departing at St Didier)
  • Price/ person: 120 Euros  Departure dependant on demand (12 pers minimum)


  • White Water Swimming on the Haute Isere:
  • Course- Descent down Haute Isere discovering ‘Bourg-Gothard’ with a passage in the ‘rapids of Aime’ (optional)
  • Duration: half day
  • Min.Age: 13 years old
  • Price/ person:  55 to 65 Euros


  • Canoe-raft on the Haute-Isere
  • Course-Bourg-Gothard: 10 km of river
  • Duration: 1 hour 45 mins  Class: 3
  • Min.Age : 13 years old
  • Price/ person: 55 to 65 Euros


  • White Water Day
  • You can compose your own day with rafting or canoe raft in the morning and white water swimming in the afternoon.
  • Price/ Person: 105 Euros


  • Canyoning
  • Canyon Des Eaux-rousses
  • Initiation - Duration: 2-2 hours 30 mins descent
  • Situated next to Moutiers this canyon is an ideal place for the initiation to canyoning and abseiling. This vigorous excursion will see you abseiling through torrents of water.
  • Price/ Person: prices start at 60 Euros


  • Canyon de Pussy
  • ‘Sportive’ Duration: : 2-2 hours 30 mins descent
  • Also situated close to Moutiers this canyon offers the chance to experience abseiling down breathtaking vertical drops of 10 to 20 metres.
  • Price/ Person: prices start at 60 Euros


  • Canyon de Montmain
  • ‘Sportive’ Duration: : 2 hours 30 mins/ 3 hours descent
  • Situated between Lake d’Annecy and Faverges in Haute Savoie, this canyon is characterised by a mixture of exciting and challenging features, vertical drops of 3 to 10 metres, slides and many jumps.
  • Price/ Person: prices start at 60 Euros


International Classification of Rivers
Class 1: Easy, steady flow, small currents, small/ simple obstacles.
Class 2: Little difficulty, uneven flow, small waves, weak rapids.
Class 3: Medium difficulty, waves, marked movement of water and rapids, some manoeuvring needed due to obstacles.
Class 4: Difficult, continuous waves, strong, rolling waves, good technique in rapids required, changes in height and depth of water.
Class 5: Very difficult, dangerous obstacles (rocks, movements of water), necessity to survey course before descent
Class 6: Limited navigability, impassable waters.

Watch this


At the entrance to Bourg St Maurice  take the road to «Hauteville-Gondon» and «Base Internationale d’eau-vive». Follow this road for 1 km, continue past the Base Internationale de canoé-kayak, cross the bridge and take the first road on your right following the «piste cyclable». You will find the Coureurs de Rivières at the bottom of the road on the left.



Map of the surrounding area