Renting a Boat--Canal du Midi

Jul 19th, 2010, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,479
BTW, only one person had ever driven a boat (we had two) and no one had ever gone through locks before that trip.
Michael is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,910
I have made almost a dozen canal trips through the years over virtually all of the major French waterways. None of the itineraries offered by any of the French rental companies is difficult in any way, even for a novice, first time sailor. All of these routes are approved by the VNF (French Authority having jurisdiction over canal operations) to be sufficiently safe and operator friendly. Those renting boats over these routes and from one of the companies listed below are exempt from French licensing requirements. There is really very little to it, all that is required is common sense and basic sound judgment.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the lock process, this site offers a working mock-up of a lock and its basic operation. You can enter into the lock, watch it fill/empty, and depart will a full explanation of all of the necessary steps. It is in French but anyone with sufficient interest can understand how to operate the model:

One observation above with which I strongly is that a one way cruise is preferable to an out and back or returning to the same base from which you originally departed. Somehow one's sense of adventure and exploration is not the same when retracing his recent path.

Another good recommendation is to consider renting bikes. The Canal du Midi has a good number of communities along its banks but many of the other routes do not making it difficult to replenish basic supplies when one is on foot. Bicycles can expand the radius of what can be explored during your holiday and make obtaining fresh baguettes all the easier.

Here is a list of the largest and best known rental companies which offer boats throughout France:
Sarastro is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 06:54 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5
In September 2009 I rented a cruiser from Rive-de-France. My group was six women, all of us over 60 (Estelle was 80). Our boat had 3 ensuite cabins, a saloon, and a galley. We could drive from inside or outside on a deck above the swim platform. We chose September because we were enroute to a conference later in the month. It turned out to be a good choice: far fewer boats on the canal than during the earlier months. We chose also to travel downstream essentially because locking through is easier. The Canal du Midi - or any canal, for that matter - is easy boating. There are no waves to contend with and you won't get lost and you can tie up anywhere along the banks if nearby ports/marinas are not available. Rive-de-France's upstream pick-up point is a very small town whose name I've forgotten. My group went to Carcassonne for the night, then took a train to Castelnaudary and taxis from there. Actually, there was only one taxi - he took us in two trips. We had about an hour's introduction to the boat, a trial run with Mathieu under one of the ancient bridges where we lost a bumper (retrieved by a kind Englishwoman), and then were on our own. Do watch out for the town of Argens-Minervois. On Tuesday, when we were there, all of the restaurants/cafes were closed so we had potluck from our own galley.
It's a beautiful, interesting, and tranquil holiday. Do enjoy yourselves.
RachelLS is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 06:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 203
Wow...I am really "ready to go".....thanks for the web-sites Sarastro! And to you RachelLS...what an inspiration...everyone has given me excellent information and first-hand
advice....I can't thank you enough.....I will have to work on these plans for our 2012 trip
to France.....2011 trip has already been "mapped out"...but who knows...maybe my husband
will change his mind on some things. Merci Merci
Nottingham is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 06:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 203
And as soon as I read thru all the replies and go to the web-sites...I know I will have some more questions to ask you ALL. But first-RachelLS..."downstream because locking through is easier...Canal du Midi. Tell me about how you "operated the locks"...and what made it easier?
Nottingham is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,479
If you are more Senior or not as spry, you might want to consider locking-down, if you have a choice of one-way direction. First, you enter the lock already filled so rushing water is not an issue and you don't have to fight the incoming water. Second, it is easier for the rope handler because you start out at the height of the bollocks and just ease the rope out as you descend down with the flow of water (imagine a bath tub emptying); the handler never has to leave the boat. In locking up the rope handler has to work at getting the rope around the bollock which is like 15 feet higher either with the boat hook, exiting along the bank, which sometimes requires a hop then a walk up to the lock or climbing the mossy slippery ladders in the canal (not recommended)...definitely a little more physically challenging, though very doable.
Michael is offline  

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