Self-Drive Boat France

Jan 23rd, 2016, 04:09 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 8
Self-Drive Boat France

New to self-drive boats in Europe. Thinking of France this summer with 2 adults and 2 children ages 13 and 8. We enjoy chartering boats in the British Virgin Islands and being on our own to explore. A bit overwhelmed with all of the routes and could use some help. If possible, we'd prefer to spend a few hours motoring each day and exploring villages/towns in the afternoons. From what I've seen, it looks like a minimum of 4 hours motoring each day. Looking to be gone approximately 10 days total (including flying into major airport and arriving at base). Is this doable and if so, what routes would be good to consider?
sailormom is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2016, 08:09 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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It´s certainly possible to do exactly as you state. How much time you spend en route and how your travel is up to you as this varies with the location selected and time available.

Consider the Canal du Midi which meets all of your requirements. I would also suggest the you travel in one direction only, going from point A to point B. Starting at point A and returning to point A is not nearly as interesting.
Sarastro is online now  
Jan 24th, 2016, 03:11 AM
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a little uncertain as to where you are going, do you mean canal/river travel or Channel/Biscay or Med travel.

If North coast I'd recommend the whole Cherbourg through to Le Havre section, but, and it is a big but, you have very large tides so you have to navigate for them. Certainly Barfleur and St Vaast would be on my list but come back if this is your thing.

Canals and Rivers. Don't plan for 4 hours travel, plan for a bit less and then extend on special days. Canal du Midi is good, as are the Burgundy ones starting in Auxerre going south. There is a nice little one in Britanny which is fun and links down to the Loire.

Try and avoid the Rhone one, just too big and the ships too big.

Best book on some of them is "Thin dog to Carcassone" have fun
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 24th, 2016, 03:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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In terms of stops, the only vital thing you need is to buy bread (as it goes off fast especially in the heat), you will often find areas which look like there is no nearby village. If you see a bridge, get off and look around. There will normally be a ilttle advert, either for the nearest macdonalds or the local restaurant. Guess what, they both deliver meals or will come and take you to the restaurant. So even in the middle of no where there is civilisation.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 24th, 2016, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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In my experience, the worst part about traveling on a canal boat with teenagers is that they won't want to get off at the end of the trip.

Seriously, be certain to rent bicycles for everyone, as riding along the canal, or to the nearest town for fresh bread is a common activity. Also, a football (soccer ball) is essential equipment for making friends for the youngsters and a petanque set is useful for all ages. Le Boat routinely makes bicycle rentals available and will set up a one way trip easily.

The Canal du Midi is good for first timers, as is has fewer locks and many services for boaters. The most interesting trip we took was from Epinal (St.Foy) southward to St. Jean-de-Losne on the Canal Sur Soane and the river Soane. That experience includes canal, river, and small and large towns, as well as a tunnel. It also has many fewer locks that the Canal de Borgogne.
Jeff801 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2016, 11:37 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
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Ah, good information! Bilboburgler, I should've clarified that we're looking to do a canal trip instead of a channel. There are so many routes and I couldn't find one site or book that gives a good overview of the different ones. Our frequent flyer miles will probably allow us to fly in and out of Paris and I wasn't sure of the travel to the boat bases. I read that the Canal du Midi gets crowded in summer. Can anyone speak to this and would a June trip be better than July or August? Thanks in advance!
sailormom is offline  
Jan 24th, 2016, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 17,326
Timing in June would be best

yes, hire bikes
bilboburgler is online now  
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