2-3 year crusing French canals

Oct 14th, 2015, 02:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 821
2-3 year crusing French canals

Where do I start!

Traveled for 50 years and now want to buy a boat/motoryacht/barge and cruise the French, Belgium and Dutch canals. Looking to do this for about 3 years Did it once for a week and one of our best trips.

Has anyone done anything similar? Maybe not a cruise but hiking, moving around, not "residing" in one place. Hope to rent out our house, and I have a company where you get a US address, get mail sent to them and they scan so you can evaluate what they need to forward on to you. But what address do I use for bills, credit cards, voter reg?

Do not speak French and have had a hard time learning it. I don't think it will be a problem and traveling world-wide has not been an issue. But what about MD visits, needing new glasses, brining the dog to the vet. All I see now as potential issues as we will not be in one place and may never return to that canal ever again!

Appreciate any suggestions you may have. My BFF has already given me an earful today on why not, so don't need that except in way of pros and cons or your experiences.

Has anyone bought a barge/motoryacht/boat?

Thanks so much.
jan47ete is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 02:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,583
How do you expect to cruise for 2 or 3 years when you can only stay in reg Schengen zone for 90 days out of 180? (that is 90 days out of every 6 months - not 90 days and then another 90 day and so on.)

So buying a barge, or picking a forwarding address is far down your list of things to work out.
janisj is online now  
Oct 14th, 2015, 03:06 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,603
I know of an American who stays on his barge in France for 4 or 5 months; just saying that it appears possible, but I do not know the particulars.

This is a project for the good weather seasons, carried over a few years. I can't imagine living on a barge in the middle of winter. So maybe the 90 days limit might not be a problem.
Michael is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
You need to do a lot more research on just about everything, including visa requirements, medical coverage and dealing locally without any working knowledge of the laws and language.
Robert2533 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,820
We did it many years ago, but things have changed greatly since then, as mentioned by the previous posters. We bought the boat in Jersey, went through the canals, starting in Honfleur, to the Med and then across the Med as far as Lebanon and then back. Schengen rules would make that very difficult today.

Alternatively, close friends bought a canal boat in Holland and cruised the canals every year for about three months each summer for fifteen years, leaving the boat in a yard either in the Netherlands or in France in the winter. They would rent their home in the States for that period. They just sold the boat a couple of years ago when they got a bit long in the tooth for scrambling up slimy ladders in locks.

If you have not done this, I suggest you rent a boat and try it for awhile first, just to see if you like the life.

It is a WONDERFUL way to see Europe, IMHO! I hope you can make it work!
nukesafe is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,336
Belgium is considered to be the best country to buy canal boats.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,921
Here are several considerations:

1. Do you have a Permit Fluvial (interior waterway license) or equivalent? I don´t know how you would license and insurance your boat without one.

2. A US drivers license is valid for 6 months (IIRC) in Europe. France has reciprocity with a number of states in the US, allowing you to exchange your US license for a French license. If you reside in one of these states, you will avoid the expense and time involved in obtaining a drivers license.

3. If you want to stay in any Schengen country longer than 90 days, you will need a long stay visa. You will need to prove that you have medical insurance, the means to support yourself financially, and repatriation insurance among a long list of other items.

The internet allows you to pay your bills and handle your finances from anywhere in the world, no differently than if you were at home, but knowing first hand what is involved in completing the first 3 items, it will be even more challenging if you are not fluent in French. You´ll need to hire an interpreter for everything you need to do.

It will be very difficult to accomplish what you want using France as your entry point; probably Germany as well. What you might consider is this; several poorer Schengen countries will issue you a passport for simply investing in their country. Portugal or Greece come to mind. You´ll need to check on the details and it will require capital of several hundred thousand euros but it might help you obtain your goals.


Sarastro is offline  
Oct 14th, 2015, 11:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,519
Critical to me is having a license (exam is in French BTW), when you hire a boat you get a waver, when you buy you don't.

Now you could research alternative licenses, I'm pretty sure (not absolutely) that the UK yachting masters license is ranked p with the french license and take out UK insurance.

Needs more research, there might even be a local (to you) license you can take out.
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 14th, 2015, 11:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,921
The license wavier for boats is automatically issued when one rents from an authorized company and is valid only on special route segments. Otherwise, there are indeed equivalent licenses such as those issued in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

The Permit Fluvial license exam is in French but it is multiple choice. A bit of study by anyone who is French capable should allow him to pass. By contrast, the Permit Hauturier exam is SA and successful passage would require a certain amount of fluency.

To my knowledge, there is no local license one may obtain to circumnavigate the Permit Fluvial requirement.
Sarastro is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 02:03 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 12,612
The Dutch and Belgians also require a licence - a vaarbewijs in the Netherlands or stuurbrevet in Belgium - for a boat longer than 15 metres.
The longer the boat the more difficult it is to get the licence - longer than 25 metres requires a practical exam as well as a theory one.
Obviously they recognise other European issued licences.

For a boat on the Rhine you have to have a licence, and an extra licence that proves you can sail on commercial rivers.
You also need a marifoon certificate.

Further you must have on board your boat proof that the boat is registered in your name, VAT has been paid on it, a crew list, including addresses and passport details, and the afore mentioned licences.

There are a lot of boats for sale, you need to find a good broker, either in Belgium of the Netherlands (where there are thousands of suitable boats for sale right now, including my son's )

The biggest hurdle however is the Schengen visa if you don't have a passport from an EEA country.
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 02:27 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,519
sorry about the emoticon in the middle of last piece, new laptop
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 15th, 2015, 02:31 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,519
in term of "local" to you, I'm not sure what say a full US commercial maritime licence might be worth to the French, but I fully take Sarastro's point.

jan, while products move between borders in EU, the movement of services and equivalence of licenses is highly complicated and is one of the failures of the EU, I guess in the same way that individual states in the US have their own bar standards maybe.
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 15th, 2015, 02:54 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
Rent boat annually for 90 days.

Shift rental period annually.

Year 1: January-March, south of France
Year 2: April-June, Languedoc, Lot

And so on. No long boring passages from region to region, no ownership responsibility, easy to bail out if health or interests change, no visa worries.

You can spend an additional 90 days in a non-Schengen country.
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 05:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 821
Have done LOTS of investigating and really wanted finer hidden problems come to light.

We will become a permanent resident-already checked it out. Have the course books and information for the boat license tests. Boat will be under 15 meters as anything that long will be unmanageable for us.

After investigating France is probably the least likely country we will start in as Belgium/Netherlands are more welcoming in regard to lots of issues. Already considered doing it parttime and may reconsider but not for now.

Het: tell me about your son's boat.

Thanks all for your input.
jan47ete is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 12,612
His boat is too big for you, a Hasselteraak, it is a currently used as a charter ship.
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 08:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,519
Hasselteraak, nice, wooden or steel structure?
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 15th, 2015, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,336
finer hidden problems

Not really a hidden problem, but every person I have ever known who has owned a (used) canal boat got rid of it due to the constant maintenance and leakage problems. Such things must be taken care of immediately and not put off.

But since you are not planning to spend the rest of your life on such a boat, that shouldn't be too much of a problem unless you purchase a lemon.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 12,612
Bilbo - a 1901 steel aak.
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,713
'Belgium is considered to be the best country to buy canal boats.'

I didn't know. But of course Belgium is THE best country in the world.

MD means medical something I guess, glasses etc : you'll find enough people speaking english in Belgium. Just choose a young one, most (some ?) of their courses are now using english books anyway.

As for address and bank accounts etc you can do a lot online. Belgian bankaccounts are all accessible by remote, you can pay that way most of your bills.

Postal address : no clue here.

ah, au fait : what is a BFF - lots of abbreviations on this site/
pariswat is offline  
Oct 15th, 2015, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,336
"Best Friend Forever" -- a farcical term used by English speakers.
kerouac is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:12 PM.