Published on April 6th, 2022 | by Kayak Session
A moments flow on the Romanche river (Entry #2 Short Film of the Year Awards 2022)
The Romanche is an alpine river that takes its source in one of the French Alps’ most iconic natural parks: Les Ecrins.
However, its pristine headwaters are not the reflection of what lays in its spectacularly deep lower valley. In the early 20th century, the place turned into a very prosperous industrial ground, with factories benefitting from the powerful flow of the river via numerous hydroelectric dams.
As the industry slowly moved out towards more cost-efficient sites, the dams continued to operate as part of France’s energy scheme, while the factories were almost all left to decay.
As a kid, I always saw the river dry and full of trash and rubbles. Yet, behind its shallow and scarred look, I could see the remains of its beauty and keep alive the dream to paddle the full gorge one day.
As an adult, I saw the small dams open up and momentarily give up to the river, as a larger one, that now deviates the water for 10 km under the mountain, was being erected.
They say this new project is one of the most innovative and sustainable dams ever built in the Alps, yet it dries the river bed and disrupts its flow once again.
For a short, ephemeral moment, the Romanche flowed free. Paddling it and seeing from its perspective what we’ve done to its riverbed, I couldn’t push away the thought that dams are anything but sustainable.
Kayaking by Jules Domine
Shot & edited by Emile Domine for AADO MEDIA