Denis Gargaud Chanut is a medal hope for hosts France at the Canoe Slalom European Championships in Pau ©Getty Images

Competitors from 25 European countries will descend on France this weekend for the 2019 European Canoe Association (ECA) Canoe Slalom European Championships.

The competition is being held in Pau, at the site of the 2017 canoe slalom and wild-water sprint canoeing tournament.

It is due to start between Thursday and conclude on Sunday (June 2). 

Generally, each nation will have three competitors per event, however there is a wildcard aspect to this year's competition - the defending European champions in each discipline qualified automatically, giving some nations four participants and an extra chance of a gold medal.

For example, in the men's kayak, Slovenia's Peter Kauzer will defend his European title on the course where he also won bronze in the 2017 World Championships.

However, Kauzer has a tough task to retain his crown against a high quality field which includes Great Britain's 2016 Olympic champion Joe Clarke, and a very strong looking Czech trio of Jiří Prskavec, Vít Přindiš and Vavřinec Hradilek.

The women's kayak event sees Germany's Ricarda Funk look to defend her title in a field containing no fewer than six former championship medallists. 

Focus will also be on Slovakia's Jana Dukátová, who returns to the top level of competition for the first time since June 2018 following a year out after giving birth to her daughter.

In the men's kayak, Slovenia's Peter Kauzer will defend his European title ©ICF
In the men's kayak, Slovenia's Peter Kauzer will defend his European title ©ICF

The best medal hope for the home nation comes in the men's canoe race from Denis Gargaud Chanut, the Olympic gold medallist at Rio 2016. 

His chances are further boosted by the absence of three-times European champion Alexander Slafkovský from Slovakia, who misses the Championships due to health problems.

Marko Mirgorodský replaces Slafkovsky for the Slovaks, who nevertheless have a strong team that could provide Chanut's stiffest competition - Michal Martikán and Matej Beňuš complete their threesome.

France also have high hopes of medals in the women's canoe - their team of Lucie Baudu, Lucie Prioux and Claire Jacquet have plenty of potential.

Viktoria Wolffhardt and Nadine Weratschnig from Austria were medallists at the previous two European Championships and will be aiming for a podium finish here too, while Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods from Britain will expect to be in the medal conversation.

Following the Opening Ceremony tonight, the action is due to commence tomorrow with the heats in women's kayak and men's canoe.

The heats for women's canoe and men's kayak take place on Friday (May 31), with the team races in the afternoon.

The finals will follow on Saturday and Sunday (June 1 and 2), with the participants hard to predict at this early stage.