Before going to explore by kayak the upper part of the famous river called the Petite Seine, which starts from the source but is navigated a little lower, let’s do some useful scouting.
Just to know where we will put the paddle.
About the Seine River
We most often have in mind an image similar to this one, which I took in Paris on a beautiful late summer evening.
Or this one, even more explicit, with the Eiffel Tower playing the role of a marine lighthouse.
However, the indispensable Wikipedia tells us that the Seine is in fact divided into 5 parts: Small Seine, High Seine, Crossing of Paris, Low Seine and Maritime Seine.
The pictures above obviously belong to the Crossing of Paris, which is unfortunately totally forbidden to kayaks – and all the more tempting, but that’s another subject!
Concerning the Lower Seine, from Conflans to the Seine Maritime, the descent is already largely covered. Not uninteresting, far from it, but the Seine is too wide, even beautiful, it remains too “river” for me, not “river” enough.
As for the Upper Seine, between Montereau and Melun, I already know it by heart: I have bathed there a lot, I have learned to steer dinghies there and I have loved to play the fool from its cemeteries of abandoned barges.
That leaves us with…
The Small Seine
That I intend to survey in a few weeks and that runs from the source, on the Plateau de Langres, to Montereau-Fault-Yonne, after having crossed several departments: the Côte d’Or, the Aube, the Marne, the Seine et Marne.
Tribute to the pioneers
Contrary to the Loing, for which I had found no information since the source – and whose discovery had therefore a nice perfume of unknown – this section of the Petite Seine was covered by two kayakers in June 2014: Michel and Jacques.
While searching as usual for information on this new adventure, I came across their story in pictures. In addition to the fact that their exploration reinforced my already long-standing desire to go and see for myself what head the Seine has at its origin, it also reminded me of some small adventures on the Loing or the Odet before Quimper, in French Brittany.
Steps in ten centimeters of water while pulling the stuff…
Michel and Jacques made their trip in mid-June, at a time when the water was not yet too low, even if they often had to walk while pulling the kayaks.
But for my part, I can only leave in mid-July. So there will probably be even less water, simply preventing navigation in some places. Moreover, where my predecessors took nine days to reach Nogent, I only have seven days to try to go as far as possible.
I will therefore spare myself two days of this attractive but annoying section, and I will leave Châtillon, not without having first greeted the source, as it should be.
Going down the small Seine from Châtillon, then. Of course. But still? To where? How many kilometers per day? Where would I stop in the evening? Would I find camping and restaurants?
Let’s solve the problem.
I have no idea how far I can travel from dawn to dusk. It’s impossible to plan: it depends on so many factors. On the Loing, from the moment the river became more or less navigable, I managed to paddle between thirty and forty kilometers. Until exhaustion – which was not the smartest thing, but still…
So I don’t plan any stage in advance. I will embark with the bare minimum, as usual, especially for the bivouac, and I will take care to ensure my autonomy for a week.
I will drink water – filtered – from the river and I will take seven days of freeze-dried food. Only for dinners and breakfasts, which will oblige me to bring my stove. At lunchtime, I will snack on snacks and energy bars.
If I come across a campground, all the better. If not, an inaccessible strike will do and I’ll wash up in the Seine.
Departure on July 10th for a return on the 17th, three days before going to dive in the Mexican Cenotes. If I have a network, I’ll try to write the articles day by day. See you soon!