Try a self drive Canal Boat in France!

Self-drive canal boating is the ideal way to discover the charm and mystery of hidden France. Cruise through the peaceful countryside, past tempting vineyards and historic villages where tiny medieval churches, ancient castles, quaint markets and small local restaurants will offer you an endless stream of new experiences and delights.

Good to know…

  • All rates are per boat for weekly rental (7 days / 7 nights)
  • Prices indicated are low season and are a guide only. Actual prices vary according to region, boat type, and time of year
  • Boats to sleep 2, 4, 6 or 8 are available in each category. Larger boats to sleep up to 12 are available on request
  • Each boat has separate sleeping cabins; fully equipped kitchens; bathrooms with linen & towels
  • No specific licence or previous experience is required, and briefing in English is given at each base
  • Choose from at least ten different regions, each with a selection of itineraries to cruise between March & October

Cook on board, or enjoy regional gastronomy in local restaurants along the way

Ease of navigation

No experience required. Prior to departure a captain’s handbook is provided and a demonstration is given at the base. Technical assistance during your cruise is available if required. Average cruising per day is 5 hours. We have considerable expertise in this unique type of holiday and are happy to share our personal cruising experience with you.


We recommend you confirm bikes in advance. You can explore the surrounding towns and villages or simply ride along the footpath in search of a baguette!

Choice of boat

We have a large selection of boats; we recommend a flybridge style that has a second external steering position on the sundeck. Some boats have extra long beds and bow thrusters to make your trip more comfortable and the boat easier to manoeuvre. An extra cabin for your luggage is recommended.


Most locks are automatic and operated by a lock keeper, some canals have manual locks. Locks are closed between 12 and 2pm. Average time to go through a lock is 20 minutes. Our team can advise which canal is suitable for your requirements.

Access to and from the base

Our experienced staff can advise you of the closest airport, train station or car depot.

Suggested ItinerariesModern Style Boat

Region: Nivernais

Distance: 65km

Locks: 31

Total Cruising Time: 16 hours

Suggested Itinerary - Châtel Censoir to Migennes

Set off on this classic Canal du Nivernais cruise from the beautiful port beneath the hilltops at Châtel Censoir, the gateway to what many consider to be the most beautiful and romantic of all French canals, the Canal du Nivernais. Its shady banks and peaceful seclusion draw you into a dream world, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Visit Auxerre’s old quarter with its abbey and cathedral before cruising to Migennes - situated at the confluence of the Yonne, the Armencon and the Serein. The history of Migennes has been tied to the canal for centuries. Since ancient times, it has been at the heart of the crossroads of the commercial routes through Burgundy and has been an important town in the religious landscape of France.

Flavours of the region

  • Loire Valley wines: Sancerre, Vouvray, Muscadet
  • Pouilly-Fumé
  • Irancy wines
  • Chablis
  • Crottin de Chavignol goat’s cheese

About Cruising in Nivernais

Wherever you choose to cruise, picture perfect scenery and pretty waterside villages dotted with magnificent châteaux and ancient churches line your route and the slow pace of life on land mirrors your gentle cruise on the water.

With rolling meadows, hillside vineyards and ancient beech forests, it’s easy to see how these peaceful landscapes inspired the Impressionist artists.

Penichette (Traditional Style Boat)

Region: Canal du Midi

Distance: 118km

Locks: 65

Total Cruising Time: 31 hours

Suggested Itinerary - Midi Lauragais to Midi Minverois

From the base at Negra cruise along the Canal du Midi to Castelnaudary - famous for its cassoulet. Stop at the small town of Bram, dating back to the 12th century and previously a centre of Cathar belief. Arrive at the splendid medieval citadel of Carcassonne and visit the fascinating Abbey. Visit the beautiful medieval town of Trébes and enjoy a relaxing bike ride through the centre of the town. Take a romantic walk through the relatively undiscovered town of Marseillette and finish up in the village of Argens, where you will return the boat at the base.

This leisurely and relaxed cruise will give you the chance to enjoy the best of what the Canal du Midi has to offer and will provide lifelong memories for all who are onboard.

Flavours of the region

  • Cassoulet de Castelnaudary
  • Lauragais pies
  • Foie gras
  • Duck
  • Oreillettes
  • Sausages of Toulouse

About Cruising on the Canal du Midi

Cited by many as the journey of a lifetime, a cruise along the Canal du Midi - itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site - takes you through sun-drenched vineyards, old trading ports and the medieval towns and villages of the Languedoc Rousillon, France’s most prolific wine-producing region.

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