A licence is required to be able to travel by boat on the French
waterways, unless of course you only have something like a canoe! Basically, any
boat that has a motor means that you have to have a licence, although temporary permits
called La Carte Plaisance are available and are issued by the boat rental company or
charter firm that you book your holiday with.
La Carte Plaisance is valid only for a set period of time for any habitable boat, which is
under 15 metres in length, but there is also permit available for your children to drive
the boat if they are between the ages of 14 and 16. Talk about a great way to get
all the family involved in the fun, but you must ask for a La Carte Junior in order to be
allowed to do this.
Many of the river guides are available in English, and you can get additional information
that you may require from the regional tourist offices, but these are also normally issued
to you by the charter boat company before you set off on your holiday.
Choosing the part of France you wish to visit is so important to get the best out of your
holiday and in the North West of France there is Brittany,
which is an area known for cider and crepes. To the East of France there are rivers
and canals throughout the regions of Alsace and Lorraine and you will find this area great for experiencing a
diverse landscape from rolling hills to forests, whilst trying some of the local French
beer and crisp white wines that this region
Burgundy within the centre of France is a great place to
experience local cuisine and fine wines and the quaint historical towns provide lovely
afternoon walks taking a step back in time with the history.
In the South of France, obviously with the more beautiful weather, you can experience
travelling along the Canal du Midi, which is the oldest canal in Europe and runs from the
Mediterranean to the Atlantic. At the same time you will be able to take in the
amazing variety of wildlife such as flamingos whilst on your canal boating holiday.
Yet as with any country, there are always rules and regulations on how you travel the
waterways, whether it be the rivers or canals and before you embark on your boat trip you
will be given some basic tuition, so that you can be issued with your licence.
And did you realise that there are over 2000 locks in France, which are known as
écluse? Some locks are automatic and some are still operated by a lockkeeper.
Others will need to be operated by yourselves, so the general 'training' is very
important, otherwise you could find yourselves in a bit of pickle initially, although most
people on the canals are so very helpful and will come to your aid and get you through.
Although the rivers and canals are used extensively by pleasure boats these days, they are
also still used by commercial vessels as well and it is these merchant vessels that have
the priority, plus the traffic going up stream has priority over those travelling down
As with road systems, the waterways have speed limits and although you are not likely to
wish to speed along, these do have to be obeyed. It is the left-hand side that is
used for overtaking just as it is on the French roads, and the slower boat must also slow
down more to let the faster vessel pass.
The condition of the French rivers and canals is excellent and you will find that they
even have designated areas for swimming and water sports, because, for obvious reasons,
swimming is not permitted wherever you feel like going for a quick dip. Yet if you
are into fishing, then you can even do a spot of this
while you are meandering down the river - just don't forget to get a licence for that as
Along your chosen route you will find lots of fantastic areas where you can stop for lunch
and stock up on supplies for that ever so important alfresco dining whilst you are
cruising leisurely along. And the additional facilities you get when you have to do
necessary things like emptying your waste, which has to be done at specific points, are
also fantastic and these are very easily accessible as it is illegal to dump waste into
any of the rivers or canal systems.
So even if you have never done this sort of thing before, you will without a doubt have an
incredible fun time and when your boating holiday
in France is nearing its end, you know that no one will want to leave.