Canal Boating

Choosing a Canal Boat Holiday



Barging on the French Canals is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing experiences.

My first comment is to choose a canal which has easy access. Some of the canals are difficult to get to and from, and can in itself sometimes spoil the leisure of a cruise.

My preferences for a group arriving from outside France is to arrive at either Paris, or Toulouse or Bordeaux airports. From both these airports the following cruises I warmly recommend:

From Paris

An easy train ride from Paris will take you to Joigny (1h30), in the Nivernais / Burgundy region. From Joigny there are some of the best barging options available in France. You can travel up the Canal du Nivernais past the lovely town of Auxerre and on to the wine village of Vermenton, and Chatel-Censoir from where you can make an excursion to the cathedral of Vezelay.

Similarly from Joigny you can travel up the Burgundy Canal passing such lovely villages as Tonnerre, Tanlay, Ancy le Franc, as well as sampling the local Chablis wine! A really wonderful cruise past the splendid architecture and beautiful countryside.

For those interested in wine, then there is a cruise which takes you from the base of St Leger to the south of Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy from where you can get to explore towns famous for the finest Burgundy wines, such as Puligny Montrachet, Santenay, Meursault and Beaune.

From Toulouse or Bordeaux

One hour from either town is one of my favourite cruises up the Baise River from Agen, passing Condom, and through to Valence. This is a very local cruise with divine canal side villages like Nerac and Vianne, with wonderful locals who will talk for hours about rugby!

Many people are attracted to the classic Canal du Midi cruise. This canal is one of the greatest feats of engineering and has just been listed as a World Heritage Site. On this cruise you pass through some larger towns such as Castelnaudary and Carcassone before arriving at the base in Argens. This is a popular one week cruise and certainly suited for the more active travellers.



One Way or Out-and-Back Cruise

Often I am asked about the merits of whether to choose a one-way cruise, or an "out and back" cruise.

This is very much a question of personal preference. Many people like the idea of travelling from one point to another, with no back-tracking. An out and back cruise however can take some pressure off you, by reducing the need to continually keep cruising during the days. Also with an out and back cruise there are some administrative advantages in that your car (if you have one) will be at the base on your return, and for those with excess baggage, this can often be left at the departure base and picked up on your return.

While travelling on an out-and-back cruise you don't always stop at every village you are passing on the way out, as you often need to hurry to a particular village to get to a market before it closes at midday. In this case you can visit those village you miss on the way back again - and some people actually enjoy re-visiting familiar locks and villages.

Bookings and Enquiries

I'd love to help you with your canal boat holiday plans in France. As a representative of Locaboat Holidays for over 25 years I am well positioned to help you. I can be very helpful to you in advising on your pre and post canal boat options, to ensure you get the best holiday possible.

For more information on the canal boats please click here.