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Kayaking in France: Vacation on waves

Learning how to handle a kayak at Calanque de Sormiou outside Marseille, France, can be great fun — as well as scary when the fog rolls in, reports Kerstin Beckman.

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“Pfui, pfui, pfui!!!”

Eric’s whistle sounds upset. The Mediterranean is in front of us, and nothing more until you get to Algeria.

The fog descends over  UCPA's kayaking adventure at Calanque de Sormiou outside Marseille, France. Photo: Kerstin Beckman

The fog descends over UCPA’s kayaking adventure at Calanque de Sormiou outside Marseille, France. Photo: Kerstin Beckman


The waves are, for us, today, scaringly high. To be honest, I was not really sure how to turn my kayak without tipping over, so I just followed Karin.

”What would you do if anything happened! You don’t know how to handle the situation if anything happens! Don’t you ever, ever loose sight of the rest of the group again. Ever!”


Eric sounds upset too. And he is right of being so. It is the first day of the kayak course, and he is responsible for nine kayak beginners. Me and Karin are the only ones who has sat in a kayak before. And none of us is experienced.

Ashamed, we return to the rest of the group. The others are taking a much needed break where Eric placed them. He tells us how the whistle signals works.

“When I blow the whistle once, you all go to the person in the front and wait there. When I blow the whistle twice, you return to me. Has everyone understood?”

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We nod in silence. And then Eric takes us back out in the waves where we just were. He claims they are only half a meter, but I really don’t believe him. When you sit with nothing but an orange plastic case between you and the sea, with steep rocks as nearest land, the waves feels gigantic. But at the same time I feel butterflies in my stomach.

Kayaking in France — this feels like an adventure in my taste.

Next: How the UCPA trips work

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Kerstin is a frequent traveler and enjoys both kayaking and skiing.