Mathilde Rosa, right, and Cecilia Panato both won European titles on a strong first day for Italy ©Facebook/Federazione Italiana Canoa Kayak

Italian and French paddlers each earned two gold medals on the opening day of the Wildwater Canoeing European Championships in León.

The individual classic race opened proceedings today and Mathilde Rosa of Italy earned the first continental title, completing the 5.8-kilometre course in 19min 40.17sec to claim K1 victory.

France's Lise Vinet was second, more than 13 seconds behind, and German Sophia Schmidt completed the top three.

Maxence Barouh won the men's K1 race in 18:03.51, with Finn Hartstein from Germany pipping Paul Jean by less than half a second to take second.

Frenchman Jean had to settle for third place in 18:06.89.

Italy's second victory came in the women's C1, as Cecilia Panato romped to a comfortable win.

Panato finished more than 40 seconds ahead of Czech runner-up Marie Nemcova, while Helene Raguenes from France came third.

There was Czech success in the men's C1 as Ondrej Rolenc finished first, ahead of German pair Normen Weber and Tim Heilinger.

Stephane Santamaria and Quentin Dazeur of France won the men's C2 contest.

British pair Emma and Kerry Christie won the women's C2 race, but that was not part of the European Championships.

Team classic races are scheduled tomorrow, with the course starting at Ventasierra Hostel and finishing in Sabero village.