Boating in France is a truly rich experience. Stay at a riverside house and take to the water in your own little boat that's moored at the end of the garden or sleep on board a motor boat or barge while you explore the waterways. France offers an enormous choice of regions for boating - each one perfect for a relaxing holiday.
Cruise slowly along rivers and canals past castles, monasteries and pretty villages, cliff-lined canyons, sandy beaches, vineyards, forests, fields of sunflowers and even glaciers. Have the bonus luxury of stopping when you like to try the local wines and regional specialities.
In Western France, discover the rugged beauty of Brittany, land of myths and legends. Amongst the picturesque villages and granite castles that border the waterways you will discover friendly communities alive with folklore, festivals and tradition and peaceful hideaways to stop and picnic.
In Eastern France, the canals of Alsace Lorraine take you past majestic medieval fortified towns and through the splendour of the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. All set against spectacular scenery of mountains, woodlands and rolling hills.
In the South of France, the ancient Canal du Midi - listed by Unesco as a world heritage site - links Toulouse to Agde, winding its way through ancient and modern towns and past the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, whose delights are not to be missed.
The Canal du Rhone a Sete and the Canal de la Robine open up the magic of the Camargue with its pink flamingos and wild horses and the many fishing ports en route are perfect for sampling some seafood and a glass or two of the local and very good wines.
The canals of Nivernais, Loire and Bourgogne take you to the heartland of France, a region rich in history and culture. Glide gently through a landscape of vineyards, cultivated valleys and rich pasture and live the dream of a perfect cruise combined with superb food and wine. Try some of the region's specialities like Boeuf Bourguignon with a glass of chilled Chablis.
Boating in France - General Information
The speed limit is 8km per hour on the canals of France and 10km per hour on the rivers. We suggest you plan on cruising an an average of 5 hours a day as your trip is all about the pleasure of being on the water, living on board a comfortable boat and enjoying the scenery. Cruise at your own pace, as the mood takes you, exploring the countryside and seeing the sights.
The Locks: Going through the locks is part of the ritual of being on the water in France. It takes about 20 minutes to go through a lock. Talking to the lock keeper, chatting to people on other boats and sampling local specialties make it a pleasant break in the trip and you will soon become familiar with the routine. In some areas locks are closed on various public holidays, such 1st May and 14th July. Check dates with your hire company. There is no charge for going through locks in France.
Stopping along the way: You have complete freedom to stop at any time. In addition to the numerous harbours with amenities that are dotted along the French waterways, you can moor your canal boat virtually anywhere - except where there are "No Mooring" signs, or if you are on a bend or in a narrow passage, under a bridge, in a lock or near a stretch of reeds. In many cases you can stop very near a town or village and visit the local market to stock up with delicious local produce (and wine) for your meals on board. Alternatively you can visit a different restaurant every day!