Paddling en amont

Although canoeing the continent appears to involve taking picturesque photos and then writing about them; 5 days of upstream paddling is no joke.
This was first made apparent by the reaction of the locals to our explanation that we are paddling en amont. First they seek to point out that Nantes is actually the other direction. Then, having been corrected in our broken French to understand that we have come from Nantes, we generally earn looks of shock. And, in the case of old men on two separate occasions, a knowing pinch of the bicep.
Second, every tourist who flows past downstream has a paddle which needs to make little impression on the water. This contrast was rammed home yesterday. Four canoes of teenagers came hurtling downstream. The first just about managed to turn out of the flow. The following canoes simply collided. Eventually the final canoe capsized. Having watched this facade from a jetty where we were resting, checking maps and generally feeling professional; we then paddled straight back through the difficult section. Feeling like absolute dons. (The fact that half an hour later we accidentally went for a swim when intending to wade is beside the point.)
Finally when you canoe upstream it is at the front of your mind that every paddle counts. No stroke is usurped from behind. Help is asked for but none is given. 150 paddles and then switch sides. 14 miles a day. 5 days down.
"Where are you going?"
(2 miles outside of Nantes and moving slowly)