La Vézère: The Uzerche – Gour noir - Vigeois river route.

Distance:  5 or 12 km

Difficulty: class 2.

Uzerche - Vigeois length: 2 hours and 30 mins to 3 hrs (the maximum length of the trip for tourists in low waters)

Uzerche - Gour Noir length: 1h00 to 1h30

Launch: - at la Base de la Minoterie at Uzerche, immediately downstream from the mill.


- at Barrage du gour Noir

- at the Pont du Jargassoux on arriving at Vigeois, on the right bank immediately downriver from the bridge.
- at the old Vieux Pont de Vigeois (near the centre of Vigeois), on the right bank immediately downriver from the bridge that is to say at the "pré du Père Mathieu".

Description of the route.

It is an easy downriver trip, but maybe be necessary to carry your watercraft a few times.

You should avoid the embankment at la Papeterie in Uzerche (700 metres after the departure) that has a very strong undertow current. In these conditions it is wise to carry the watercraft along the left bank. When the water is slow or middle, it is very pleasant to take the waterfall slide on the left bank.

The inconvenience of the carrying your watercraft is compensated for by the special atmosphere of the embankment at Gour Noir, which seems like the North of Canada in Autumn and also the interesting little challenges on arrival at Vigeois.

If the canoeist/kayaker continues after the Pont du Jargassou, the navigation will be Class 3 and will give an idea of what happens in the gorges after Vigeois.


-500 metres after the departure from la Base de la Minoterie, and just after the Pont Turgot, a movable embankment is put in place for the summer season. An aluminium chute is normally positioned on the left bank, if not there is carrying of your watercraft on the right bank.

A little way before arriving at the mini-dam at the Pont Turgot

-200 metres further, just after a second bridge in Uzerche(the road RN20 now D920), the la Papeterie embankment, since 2006, has been equipped with a beautiful chute on the left bank, provided by SIAV.
The approaches to the paper mill have an industrial air, which was even more disagreeable when it was accompanied by unpleasant odours from industrial waste in the river bed (still visible when the water is low). Since 2006, the paper mill has not been in use and the water is now clean,… But the workers have been laid off.

- a little while after completely leaving Uzerche, the calm water lake of the Gour Noir hydroelectric dam begins. The silent glide between two quite magnificent wooded banks, will be more appreciated by lovers of Nature than by the amateur rapid waters enthusiast.

- a notice invites you to land your craft before reaching the embankment. You have to carry your watercraft for more than 100 metres which ends at a launch site in the escape canal, that is to say just downriver from the mouth of the turbines.
In higher waters, it is possible to re-launch into the old riverbed (on the right, the other side of the split with the exit canal), and to take advantage of some rapids.

The Gour Noir site, although spoilt by concrete, is noted especially for its SNCF viaduct (Paris – Toulouse line) that crosses the Vézère just downriver from the embankment and is reputed to be the longest stone bridge in Europe with only one arch. This construction has been in service since 1893. It 83 metres in length.

- a little way after the Gour Noir, the traveller passes under the imposing A20 motorway viaduct, which looks down over the river for 50 metres.

Vézère can be seen from the top
From the A20 viaduct, travelling downriver on the Vézère

- the river journey continues without a problem until 1 km upriver from the Pont du Jargassou, where some of the river passages (little falls, rocks, eddies, etc. ) which can take the novice by surprise.

The landing stage, on the right bank just downriver from the Jargassou right bank and vehicle access, has been upfitted since 2003 by SIAV (picnic tables, etc.). ).

- between the two bridges at Vigeois: Take care, it is a small Class 3


Camping at Uzerche and Vigeois (the campsite at Vigeois is however several kilometres away from the town); chalets on the La Minoterie site at Uzerche; Base de la Minoterie (16 beds); Uzerche hotels; The gîte accommodation at Vigeois borders the pré du Père Mathieu.
Further details about accommodation.

Sites of interest:

For those who want to prolong their downriver trip with a hike on foot, a path, signposted to the site of the amazing ‘cascades de Bialet’ waterfall (near St-Ybard) rejoins the river Vézère at the foot of the Gour Noir dam and the famous SNCF viaduct. Not far from the river, several ancient ironwork ruins are still visible. The path passes the A20 viaduct, enabling you to retrace your steps. This route for this little hike is described in the Chamina Guide "Entre Vézère et Auvézère".