What happens when a run-of-the-mill kayaking jaunt turns into a (sort of) death-defying race against the clock?

For writer Max Olijnyk, a run-of-the-mill kayaking jaunt on pristine French rapids soon turned into a death-defying race against the clock. Well, kind of.

It’s the last day of our French holiday. My partner, Rosie, and I have been driving about in our Opel for a week and it’s done us well. Bar the rocky start at Marseille (when we pulled the wrong way out of the parking lot and got hopelessly lost), we’ve explored the idyllic calanques (fjord-like inlets) of Cassis and frolicked through the beautiful French countryside, all the way to our hotel in Montpellier.

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Maybe it’s because this is the last stop and we’re exhausted, but we’re finding Montpellier unremarkable and snoozesome. The food is expensive and boring; the shopping strips are comprised of mainly chain stores; and the streets are crawling with tourists. But as much as lazing around in our hotel room—with its air conditioning, free instant coffee and Wi-Fi—is a tempting prospect, we decide to squeeze back into the Opel for one last adventure.