Yesterday, we took at trip to Cognac and went kayaking and canoeing on the Charente River. It is, I have read, the most beautiful river in France. Whether or not that is true I don't know, as I haven't visited many; and I guess a lot of it is down to personal preference - but I can tell you it is a gorgeous river.
We took a 2 hour trip which meant we didn't need to be driven along the river to find our way back. With map on board, we navigated ourselves around the river and channels. To be honest, we probably needed 4 or 5 hours to complete the whole round trip that was suggested - but I think perhaps that is a reflection of our kayaking skills. Also, my son was in a canoe and managed to sink himself; which was absolutely hilarious - especially when his crocs started floating off.
The river also appeared to accommodate small boats, pedalows and sightseeing trips. So, if kayaking isn't your thing then there are other options. I have to confess that after an hour (possibly less) my stomach muscles were begging for mercy. Today, however, I feel quite chuffed they had a little workout!!
We used a company called Cognac Canoe Club - who were friendly, jolly and very reasonably priced compared to local competitors. They are situated on the right side of the river on the bank just next to the bridge that takes you over into the centre. It is very easy to find and parking is free. I might suggest pre booking though. They are helpful if your French isn't up to telephone calls.