We bounced along through fields of sunflowers in a rattle-trap minivan as we made our way upriver to our starting point for a day’s canoeing. I’d never noticed before that sunflower heads all point the same way in a weirdly triffid-like fashion. I kept imagining Dr Who music running and all the sunflowers turning in unison to stare at me.

Town on the way - note the caves.

Anyway, we were in Canadian canoes today which was a first for all of us. The Dordogne is so wide and placid that a kayak is just not necessary. The couple of little courses of shallow rocks we passed over aren’t even big enough to rate a number as rapids go. It was a complete contrast to our last canoeing expedition in France in that way. If last time was a four-wheel-drive on a dirt track type of canoeing, today was cruising along a well maintained tourist road.

We were a long way from being alone on the river. There were numerous other tourists about and a large school group we kept bumping into. Still the river’s big enough that we never felt like we were crowded; never exactly felt alone either though. But even if the river had not had people on it, there was no mistaking we were near civilisation. We passed several lovely bridges, a couple of villages, a few châteaux, some ancient cave systems and even a canoeing snack bar set up on a little spit of land by the river. It was calm and quiet and very, very pretty.