I have been in the Ardeche region of France this summer - famous for its chestnuts, apricots and Rhone-Valley wine. One day my family, our friends and I canoed the Ardeche river (well, 32kms of it) along with hordes and hordes of other tourists and our dog.
It is called a descent because you paddle along with the flow of the river and every so often descend via a cascade of water between a tumble of rocks.
Skilled canoeists manage to make the descent inside their canoes, deftly manoeuvring themselves between the rocks and over the rapids. I, on the other hand, invariably hit the rocks, bounced out of the canoe and ripped downstream like some old pooh-stick only to bob to the surface with my swimsuit in disarray and my hair plastered across my face. No husband, no dog and no canoe in sight yet miraculously I still had my fist tightly gripped around my paddle. Happy Days.