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Most of our clients have questions.
Please always read the "Basic Questions" first.
  1. Basic Questions About a Self-Drive Canal Boat Holiday
  2. More Detailed Questions About French Canal Boat Holidays (This page)
  3. Questions About Travel Arrangements From Long-Haul Clients
A - Piloting/Navigation

1 – How is it possible to rent a canal boat or barge without a boat licence?

Renting a canal or river boat does not require a boat licence. French law decrees that a licence is not required for recreational boats whose length is less than or equal to 15 metres and whose engine power does not exceed the ratio proportional to its size. The engines of all our canal boats are limited, which does not affect the navigation in any way as the speed limit is normally 6 to 8km/h, and none of our fleet exceeds 15 metres in length.

2 – Do I need to have any boating experience to rent a canal boat or barge?

Our boats are all specially designed so that no special skills are required to pilot them. When you arrive on the day of departure the technical team will show you around and explain how to work everything. They will also explain how to navigate on the inland waterways. The navigation of our boats is very simple; there is one gear stick, with a drive gear and a reverse gear. With a little patience you’ll be a great captain in no time.

3 – Do I need to be sporty to go on a canal boat or barge holiday?

These holidays are accessible for everyone and do not require any significant level of fitness. In addition, some of our boats have wheelchair access, thus it is possible for everyone to benefit from our cruises.

4 – What happens when you meet another boat coming towards you?

You usually navigate down the centre of the waterway, however when you come across another boat, you have to move to the right and cruise slowly along close to the canal bank. When you come to a canal bridge or a narrow navigation area priority goes to the larger boat, and commercial barges always have priority. Be vigilant and don’t forget to look behind you in case another boat is travelling faster than you and wishes to pass.

5 – What should I do when there are fishermen along the waterways?

When you pass a fisherman you need to slow down as much as possible in order to avoid agitating the water near the banks too much. By remaining alert and watching out for their lines you will win their respect and everyone will be happy.

B - Choosing your boat, cruise, and period

1 – When is the best time to take my holiday?

Our boats are seasonal from March to November. Each month has its strengths and its drawbacks. But no matter what season you choose the canals and rivers of France will always be interesting and exciting to discover.

2 – Which boat should I choose?

2.1   Always start with the number of separate cabins you need. Look at the webpage for those boats.

Select a region, then the number of cabins you need.
5 4 3 2 1 Access
5 4 3 2 1 Access

2.2   Next, consider the comfort level you prefer. In general terms, the more comfortable/better boats start at the top of the page.
2.3   Next, look at the lengths and widths. All boats are designed with different clients needs in mind. The bigger the boat, the more likely you are to have good outside space.
2.4   We have three 'Ranges' of boats : PLATINUM, GOLD, and SILVER. Each boat's 'Range' is stated top-right in its information box. We don't offer 'Budget' class boats. It’s not worth it because it will disappoint clients even if they’re not paying so much. My long-haul clients in particular wouldn’t thank me after coming so far! We offer mostly what I’d call mid-range to high-range boats.

  1. PLATINUM Range : Excellent quality and service, lovely boats. Number 1 in our opinion.
  2. Gold Range : Good quality boats and a large fleet.
  3. Silver Range : Value boats, where budget is a major consideration.
  5. In each boat's information box the 'Range' of each boat is shown top-right.

3 – Which starting port and route should I choose?

With our 18 bases along the Canal du Midi and in Burgundy, you have a lot of choice. We are often asked "which is the best part?". The simple answer is that you'll have fun wherever you start and stop!

The first step is to select a region, choose the boat(s) you prefer, and then contact us. We'll need to know how many days you wish to navigate and whether you want a one-way cruise or a return trip. (Return trips are the most common.) The key thing is to choose your boat before it's booked by someone else!

Once you’ve decided on your boat preferences then choosing the right cruise for you will be a lot easier. Whatever your choice is, the regions of France in which we specialise offers amazing trips and allows you to enjoy seeing nature from a new angle while discovering many new and wonderful things.

4 – How do I plan my route? How many kilometres can I do in a day?

The normal cruising speed of a boat is about 4-8km/hr but the limit is 3km/hr past other boats and through ports. On average it takes 20 minutes to pass through a lock.

If you plan to cruise for about 4 to 6 hours a day you will cover a distance of between 25 and 40km, not including the time spent at each lock. Therefore you will need to consider which route to take and how many days to spend on the boat.

For route planning, you could look at my canal and river maps page and also read below about one-way versus return trips.

5 – Can I cruise at night?

Canal and river navigation at night is prohibited because of the difficulty related to manoeuvring in the dark. Also, locks are only open during the day.

6 – How long does it take to go through a lock?

The time it takes to pass through a lock depends on several factors including the amount of traffic, but on average it takes about 20 minutes.

7 – What is the use of a map book of the canal or river?

The canal or river map book is a veritable gold mine of information about the route that you will take and its environs. Thanks to this map you can discover the many restaurants close to the canal and also the places where you can refuel the boat. By using this map you can organise your trip and decide where you wish to stop and what you desire to see while you are on the cruise.

French Canal and River Maps

This is a page of useful information about the best places for a French boating holiday.

There is an interactive map which you can use to find our bases.
C - One-Way Trip or Return

1 – Is it possible to make a one way canal cruise?

Yes it’s possible. If you do decide to make a one-way trip we provide additional services such as: vehicle transfer (transporting your vehicle to your arrival base), or transfers by taxi. Please ask us for more information at the time of booking.

2 – Which is better, one-way or return?

The majority of people do return trips but we can organise both. Most people assume that a one-way trip must be better, but this isn't the case. There are some things to consider.

2.1 - Doing a one-way cruise limits you a little in your choice of boat and base to start from and end at.
2.2 - You have to remember that you must allow sufficient time to get to the end base. That may sound obvious but it’s much easier to judge this on a return trip. The reason is because you can't always estimate how much longer it will take you when you think you're half-way along your route.
2.3 - There is a supplement for one-way trips (€100-€160 euros).
2.4 - The boat operators here always aim to give you your preference for where you start and where you finish. HOWEVER they will not guarantee your direction of travel until shortly before your departure. In many cases this is 48 hours before and in the case of the PLATINUM range boats it's 2 weeks before. It's possible that your one-way trip might be in the direction you don't really prefer. Sorry, but that's the way it is here!
2.5 - There is also a cost for the transfer of your car or yourselves if you order this additional option.
2.6 - If you do a return trip, you will discover that the landscape is not the same when you view it from the opposite direction on the return trip. The canals and rivers really do look different on the way back, and you’ll find yourselves stopping at different places and having different experiences.

3 – If I make a one way trip, how do I find my car?

If you wish to have your car transported to your arrival base we can organise the delivery of your car, which will be insured under the owner’s responsibility, and will be transported no earlier than the day after your departure and no later than the day before your arrival. All information about this service will be available from your starting point.

4 – Can I take or leave the boat where I want?

During your cruise you are free to dock your boat where you wish as long as there is no prohibition against the mooring of canal boats at that location. However it is your responsibility to comply with your lease of the canal boat or barge, therefore you much ensure that your boat arrives at the place and time as originally stipulated in the booking.

D - The Boat

1 – Is the boat comfortable?

The first thing to say is that we don't offer "Budget" boats! Honestly it's not worth it and you'll be disappointed. All our boats are in the middle to high range.

The second thing to say is that of course a boating holiday is not the same as staying in a 5 star hotel. However whichever model of canal boat or barge you choose, there is everything on board to make your stay a comfortable one. You'll find a lounge, comfortable double or single beds (and bunk beds on some boats), heating, hot water, toilets and showers.

The amount of space that you have will always be limited, however the lounge/dining area of the boat tends to be the largest room in the boat as this is the true heart of your holiday when you're inside. The cabins on canal and river boats are modest in size; however there is space for stowing your luggage and other possessions.

2 – Are the canal boats heated? Is there air-conditioning?

All our boats are equipped with a heating system thus providing you with comfort in any climate. Many of our boats also offer air-conditioning - see each boat's description for details.

3 – Is the boat equipped with linen, bedding, dishes etc?

On board all our boats you will find crockery, cutlery and all the kitchen equipment required to cook for an intimate dinner or a large family meal. The boats have a stove, oven, refrigerator, sink, pots and pans, and an assortment of dishes which are sufficient for the maximum number of passengers expected on board the boat. Similarly you will find enough bedding (sheets, duvets, pillows) for the maximum number of passengers.

4 – Is there hot water on board?

There is hot water on all our boats. While the engine is running it produces the hot water, therefore if you run out of hot water all you have to do is turn on the motor for a couple of hours to generate more hot water.

5 – Is there a 220V electricity outlet on board?

Some boats are equipped with 220V, however all our canal boats are equipped with a 12V cigarette light charger, so if you have a 12V charger you can recharge your mobile phone there. For any equipment powered by 220V you can use them aboard if you rent a 12V-220V transformer or if your boat already has its own generator. Otherwise you will find numerous power points along the canal that you are able to use. All our most recent boats are equipped with generators.

6 – Can we lock the boat?

Yes, all our canal boats are equipped with locks which allow you to leave the boat to go exploring the surrounding countryside in peace, however we recommend not to leave your valuables in plain view.

7 – What is the capacity of the fridge?

The fridge capacity depends on the size of the canal boat or barge that you have chosen and it ranges from 60 to 220 litres. During summer we recommend that you do not overload the refrigerators in order to allow them to function better.

8 – What is the use of the bow thrusters specified on some boats?

The bow thruster is a small propeller located at the front of the boat which allows for easier manoeuvring. It is used for a few seconds and at low speeds to facilitate the navigational manoeuvres such as entering a lock and docking the boat. This is not necessary; it's a "nice to have".

E - Locks

1 – Are the locks easy to go through? How do I do it?

Passing through the locks is a simple manoeuvre and is enjoyable if you follow some basic rules: navigate slowly and carefully and remain patient if there are several boats waiting for the lock. As you travel along you’ll realise that the lock manoeuvres can be very interesting as you can often chat with the lock keepers, sometimes enjoy the local produce or just admire the view and observe the local atmosphere.

2 – Are the locks manual or automatic? What must I do when I come to a lock?

There a several different types of locks: manual locks with a lock keeper which is the most common and automatic locks with a lock keeper which is often found on the larger rivers. There are also another two types of locks without a lock keeper, but not on the Canal du Midi.

3 – Are the locks closed on certain days and at certain hours?

The locks are usually open everyday, however they may close for certain national holidays, for the day. The opening hours are different for each canal and our team at your departure base will inform you about this when you arrive or when you book. The thing to remember is that locks can often be closed for lunch.

4 – Is there a fee for going through a lock? And is it necessary to tip the lock keepers?

No, there is no fee for going through a lock as the lock keepers are paid for their work. It's at your discretion whether you wish to tip the lock keeper or not. This can also be in the form of a bottle of beer if you want!

F - Moorings

1 – Can we stop wherever we want?

Generally yes. One of the advantages of this mode of transport is that you can normally stop wherever you want. In addition to the many ports built along the canal where you may moor your boat, you can also moor anywhere in the countryside, except for some areas where it's prohibited.

2 – Do you have to pay to moor at a port?

You will find marinas, however some of them are free and others require a payment. The ports that provide electricity and water dockside often charge a fee for parking your boat there.

3 – Will I be able to find restaurants or hotels near the waterways?

Most of the time you will find restaurants and hotels near the marina villages that line the canal. If you consult your river map on board your boat you will find more information about these services. It will also show you the different must-see tourist spots, the villages with supermarkets and grocers, and places where you can refill with water. This is another advantage of waterway tourism: you can lazily navigate the canal and then return to civilisation when you stop at a port or village.

4 – How do you moor in the countryside?

Your canal boat or barge is completely equipped for this and you can do so by using the mooring pole and other equipment.

G - Activities

1 – What can we visit along the way?

Canal tourism does not mean you have to limit your trip to the canal or river bank. Often if you travel only a couple of hundred meters on foot or on your bike, or even by taxi, you can find many interesting sites such as medieval villages, Roman churches, famous tourist sites, and excellent vineyards. The map on board will show which towns and villages are nearby and where you can refuel the boat. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information from our team on the day of your departure.

2 – Do you get to meet a lot of people?

A canal cruise is often an excellent opportunity to meet people. When you pass through a lock you often find yourself among other boaters and of course the lock keeper. This can be an excellent chance to discuss the route with people who are following or who have done the same course as you. You can also meet new people in the region where you are travelling.

3 – We don't speak French! Is this a problem?

No! Often a simple smile and a chat is all you need to make new friends. French canals and rivers are very friendly! Make the first move even if you don't speak the language very well and you will see the rewards. And of course you'll also meet other people from different countries. These days, so many French people here speak some English. However you might find it more fun if you make the effort to speak some French occasionally - don't forget to take a phrase book!

4 – Are there restaurants or cafes along the canal?

There are many cafes and restaurants close to the canals and rivers. My advice is not to forget to walk or cycle into local villages - the restaurants there are often cheaper and better than the ones on the side of the canal. The river map on the boat will provide you with information about all the sights in the area that you are visiting and you can also ask the lock keepers and locals about accommodation and restaurants. The best thing about canal boat or barge holidays is discovering the local nature and environment from the canal, and also enjoying a break onshore for lunch, or eating dinner on the deck of the boat.

5 – What can I do if the weather is bad?

No matter what sort of weather you experience, life aboard a canal boat or barge is always interesting. And even if it rains you can still enjoy the natural surroundings. No matter what your itinerary is, there is always something to do or visit not far from the canal.

6 – Can I go swimming or fishing?

Swimming is not possible on the Canal du Midi and on some other canals. However bring along your swimsuit and even if you don’t go swimming it will be useful for sunbathing on the deck! You can fish, yes, but the fishing regulations are complex but we can advise you about this if you're interested.

H - Practical Information/Provisions

1 – Where can I park my car during my voyage?

We have 12 bases with open and free parking as a minimum. Other of our bases have secure and/or covered parking available, sometimes for a fee.

2 - Where can we go shopping?

You can go shopping in practically every village along the canal. If you check the map on the boat it will indicate where you can buy supplies and in which town you can find a grocer, bakery, fishmonger or butchers. Occasionally some lock keepers sell eggs, poultry, vegetables or wine, all at very reasonably prices. Try to stock up on the day of your departure as it is easier to transport the larger items that you may need before you start.

3 – I have a dog, am I able to take him with me on the boat?

Dogs and other pets are welcome aboard most of our fleet of canal boats, with a supplement. However, please ensure you have all the equipment necessary to look after your pet (including a cover and sleeping basket) as you will not find anything at the base or on board. Also, please remember to ensure your pet’s safety, especially when you are passing through the locks.

4 – How late can we arrive on the day of departure?

It's important to respect the timetables, which you can find on your booking. If you are delayed please warn your departure base.

5 – How long is the instruction on the departure day?

The instruction for the boat lasts about 30 minutes and is suited to your level of experience. This initiation provides you with the knowledge needed to operate your boat and all the manoeuvres necessary for navigation.

6 – Before arrival, are there supermarkets near the bases?

There are supermarkets located near most of our bases which allows you to purchase the heavier items at the bases and transport them to the boat before boarding, making your life easier.

7 - Where can we fill up with water?

There are numerous water supply points along the canals and they are all shown on the map aboard the boat.

8 – How long will our water supply last? Is the water drinkable?

The capacity of the water tank on board the boat varies depending on the size of the boat. When you depart the tank is full and it generally takes about two days to empty the tank in the case of reasonable consumption. We advise you to refill everyday or second day so that you never find yourself without water. The water from the tanks is drinkable.

9 – Is there enough fuel for my trip or do I need to refuel?

The boat’s tank is full when you depart and the quantity is sufficient for a classic cruise of a week. If necessary there are many places where you can refuel.

I - Bikes

1 – Is it possible to rent bikes?

Yes. You can place them aboard your canal boat or barge so that you can use them to enjoy the towpaths, explore the surrounding countryside and to help you with transporting your shopping. We recommend you pre-book your bikes directly with us when you book your canal boat or barge.

2 – Can I bring my bike on board the canal boat or barge?

Yes, you can bring your own bike with you for your trip.

3 – Where can we store the bikes on the boat?

On all our boats it's possible to store the bicycles on the bridge of the boat. Depending on the size of the canal boat or barge, we will recommend an appropriate number of bikes.

4 – Can I ride on the towpath?

The waterways here in France are often lined with towpaths which are excellent for bike riding. It is also an ideal way to explore the region and to pick up some supplies from the villages that you will find along the way.

J - In case of a problem

1 – What do we do if we break down?

Our team is available seven days a week on all our bases and there is someone there to help. In case of a problem just call your departure base, whose number is provided in the logbook, and we will be more than happy to help. The team will do their utmost to provide a solution to any problems and luckily most things can be solved by telephone. If not a technician will come to help you as soon as they can. If you can, try to locate a landmark close to where you are in order to help us to find you faster.

2 – Accidents: How do they happen? How much does it cost? Should I take out insurance?

Your canal boat or barge is insured and you are only responsible to pay for any damage caused up to the amount of the bond that you have taken out. You can opt to purchase extra CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance.

3 - Are accidents common?

Accidents are infrequent and normally very minor due to the limited speed of all canal boats. However, you must always be vigilant while cruising and it is advisable to take turns steering the boat.

K - The Crew

1 – How many people do we need to have to steer the boat?

Our canal boats are rented out to two people minimum (there must be at least one adult and one child over 16 years). As all the lock manoeuvres require one person to steer the boat and another to hold the boat in place you need at least two people capable of steering the boat and helping with the manoeuvres.

2 – Can anyone drive the boat?

When you're instructed on the day of departure you will be issued with a card that acts as a boat licence. It will appoint one of you as the captain and on the boat anyone can drive under the surveillance of the captain. Therefore this allows you to let your children have a go at steering the boat as well, as long as you are there to watch over what they do and help them in any manoeuvres.

3 – Will we all be able to get along in a small space?

A boating holiday is a great opportunity to enjoy the surrounding environment at a leisurely pace! You can enjoy nice meals together in the lounge or out on the deck, and on the canal banks or at local restaurants. A cruise is a great way to spend some quality time with your beloved, or to get together as a family. The kids will soon get used to life aboard the boat and are normally more than happy to try steering the boat! Many people also use it as a great way to spend some quality time with their friends. This is a great experience to share with those people who are important to you.

4 – Is it dangerous for young children?

All the boats are equipped with safety equipment including a double chain on the balcony railing and movement aboard is always easy due to the wide set decks protected by railing and the large and stable sun decks. However the aquatic environment always presents risks and as such we recommend that children wear life jackets. For toddlers you should consider arm floats as it is often easier for them to wear during the hot weather.

5 – Are pets allowed on board the canal boats?

Dogs and other pets are welcome aboard most of our fleet of canal boats. However, please ensure you have all the equipment necessary to look after your pet (including a cover and sleeping basket) as you will not find anything at the base or on board. Also, please remember to ensure your pet’s safety, especially when you are passing through the locks.

L - Prices and Reservations

1 – How do I know I'm getting the best price?

We’re based locally and we represent 3 of the best boat operators you will find in France. We’ve been on these boats and we know the people who run the fleets. Using us to advise you costs you nothing but hopefully helps a lot. Our pricing tables are usually accurate but it's possible I can get a cheaper price at the moment when you’re ready to make a booking - and that’s what you’ll get.

Whenever you are ready to make a reservation, you will get the same best price as if you go direct to the boat owners and we're happy to guarantee that.

We also guarantee that we’ll advise you honestly on the basis of “this is what I’d do if I had your needs and preferences” and I'll give lots of other advice as well - free!

2 – What are the deadlines for booking? How far in advance should I book?

Don’t wait too long to book! Canal boat or barge holidays are very popular and the best reservations tend to be made many months in advance.

3 – Does the all inclusive package include cancellation insurance?

On boats where this is offered, the all inclusive package deal includes: fuel, insurance in case the cruise is interrupted, rental of a bicycle, and the cleaning fee. However it does not include cancellation insurance. You could buy vacation cancellation insurance yourselves, or the boat owners can offer it to you.

4 – What are the means of payment?

The boat operators we deal with accept most payment methods and the payment terms vary according to the operator. I can advise you when you enquire. For your convenience and security you book and pay direct with the boat operator.

In all cases you will need to pay a deposit between 30-40% of the cost, depending on the boat.

A lovely Canal du Midi cruiser The Canal du Midi is fun for everyone! We offer a wide range of Canal du Midi cruisers, barges and narrowboats Traditional-style canal barge


Select a region, then the number of cabins you need.
5 4 3 2 1 Access
5 4 3 2 1 Access
This is me, Sara Why not


"We had a great time! We were very happy with the boat, which was in lovely condition. The pack-up box of food to get us on our way was useful.

We found the onsite team to be very helpful and friendly. And the suggested time-table they gave us was so easy to follow and enjoy; being a suggested schedule that is most definitely built for relaxing and ambling along, savouring each special moment.

Our next major port-of-call - the city of Narbonne - was glorious, especially down by the water's edge.

The return to base was nice and leisurely and we stopped at some lovely canal-side villages almost all of which seemed to offer fine hospitality especially of the culinary variety.

All in all a thoroughly delightful holiday! One which we would most definitely consider doing again."

- Paul and wife, UK


 (5 out of 5 stars)

 (5 out of 5 stars)


AGENCIES: If you represent a travel agency, or are otherwise interested in offering these French canal and river boating holidays to your guests or clients, please
contact us
for more information.

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