© Circuit Stevenson en canoë dans la Vallée de l'Oise | CRTC Hauts-de-France - Guillaume Fatras

Canoeing in the Oise Valley

Follow in the footsteps of Stevenson, deep in the heart of the Thiérache countryside

We are in the area of Thiérache which forms parts of the Aisne department  north-east of Paris, where the river Oise flows freely. This area was made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson in ‘An Inland Voyage’, the travelogue of his canoe journey along the Oise from Anvers to Paris. The town of Autreppes has seen canoes come and go since Stevenson visited here on that first big adventure before he found fame as the author of ‘Treasure Island’.

Northern France _ Autreppes _ Canoeing ©CRTC Hauts-de-France - N. BryantNorthern France _ Autreppes _ Canoeing ©CRTC Hauts-de-France - N. Bryant
©Northern France, Autreppes, Canoeing | CRTC Hauts-de-France - N. Bryant

In the footsteps of Stevenson

Today, we embark at Etréaupont, passing a remarkable fortified church along the way. “Pay attention to the cows,” goes the local joke. “The secret of Maroilles cheese is that the cows come here to drink from the river, which has its source next to Chimay, deep in Belgian beer country!” The meandering Oise gently pushes and twirls your canoe along small, flowing rapids. Then it’s time for a break under a centuries-old weeping willow – who knows? Perhaps Stevenson himself tapped his pipe against the gnarly trunk we rest against. Away from the noise of cars, we can imagine ourselves back in the 19th century. Back on the river, we pass through Autreppes, Erloy and l’Axe Vert de Thiérache, a dedicated riverside path shadowing us all the way to allow friends and family to follow the route on foot or by bike.

Or how about trying your hand at canoeing down the Thérain?

This small and pretty river is a tributary of the river Oise. It runs just 60 miles from its source in the Pays de Bray area at the gates of Normandy to Creil, where it joins the Oise. It offers amateurs, sporty types and anyone with a love of nature the chance to take gorgeous canoe trips between Roche-Condé and Hermes or between Hermes and Mouy. These trips are family friendly – the whole family can board a canoe to enjoy the countryside and take in animals including amphibians, colourful dragonflies and ducks … Smiles are guaranteed upon your arrival – the kids are sure to want to come back!

Local's tip

alain bahuchetattelage alain bahuchet, gremevillers, oise
A beautiful shop where you can find Thiérache delicacies

 

Ciders, farmhouse apple juice, Maroilles cheese, organic vegetables from local producers…
“I have a real soft spot for Saveurs et Terroirs in La Capelle (43 rue du Général de Gaulle), where ciders, hand-made apple juices, local cheeses such as Maroilles, caramel sauces and local organic vegetables can be discovered. It’s a place where we can stop and pick up a gourmet souvenir or fill our fridge with top products made locally in Thiérache. Françoise, the owner, is very welcoming and is always happy to provide customers with the stories behind her products, as well as great recipe ideas.”

Alain Bahuchet, expert in local products, regional specialities and gourmet shops
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