Boating Holidays in France

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Enjoy a boat vacation on the French waterways

Welcome to France

Enjoy a boat vacation with family and friends on the French waterways in your own quiet pace. Boating trips are relaxed and great for quality time with family and friends. The French waterways run through some of Europe's most beautiful and varied landscapes.

The "real" France is best experienced on a boat vacation - that is at least our modest opinion! Experience colourful marketplaces, stop for a picnic along the river banks or enjoy a gourmet meal in one of the picturesque fortress towns. Another lovely way to spend a peaceful evening is in the salon on the boat with a glass of wine from one of the region's wineries.

About 800 years ago the French began to build the intricate canal systems, connecting the large French rivers. Often you´ll see the old barge trails running along the channels, where horses in ancient times laboriously had to pull loads of overcrowded boats against the current. Several of these old carriage roads have lost their significance as industrial transportation lines, but have been reopened with restored bridges and lock systems for the benefit to those of us who love boating holidays.

12 different French regions

Seatravel offers river and canal holidays in 12 different French regions. From Alsace with the beautiful half-timbered houses in Northern France to the fantastic Burgundy with prestigious wineries. Further south Camargue lures visitors with lakes full of oyster beds and pink flamingos. Idyllic Brittany has a breath of fresh air from the sea and there are famous Cognac areas along the Charente river. And let us not forget the sunny Aquitaine nor Canal du Midi in Southern France near the Mediterranean.


In France you will always find a destination to your liking!

In France you can choose between a river holiday in 12 different regions.


The scenery in the south of France has inspired artists for centuries. The slopes with vines and plantations of plums face the rivers - and the luxurious foie gras, truffles, and wild mushrooms and especially Bordeaux red wines, are just some of the region's many gastronomical specialities.


  • Ancient cities on the hills with stunning panoramic views
  • Beautiful medieval towns with cobbled streets and half-timbered houses
  • Moissac's famous monastery
  • The boat elevator near Montech - a must-see
  • World famous wines such as Margaux, St. Etienne, Graves, and Medoc
  • Vineyards and fields of sunflowers
  • Gastronomic delights for connoisseurs and local markets of foie gras and truffles
  • Art and culture
  • Enjoy a glass of Armagnac - a local alternative to Cognac

Canal du Midi

A boating holiday on the historic Canal du Midi will be calm sailing through southern France´s sun-soaked vineyards between Toulouse in the west to Agde close to the Mediterranean beaches to the east. Follow the meandering channel under the patchy shadows of the plane trees, through quaint little country towns as Trèbes and Homps, past green vineyards and yellow sunflower fields. Sail under beautiful oval arched stone bridges and on exiting elevated aqueducts.


  • The beaches and seafood restaurants in Port la Nouvelle, Narbonne
  • The beautiful landscape of Languedoc - France's best wine producing region
  • Sun-soaked days and yellow sunflower fields.
  • Automatic and fully manned locks.
  • Sights from the Roman times.
  • Sightseeing in Carcassone and Narbonne
  • Sluice stairs Fonsérannes (Beziers)
  • The old walled city of Carcassonne - "La Cité"
  • The medieval town of Castelnaudary - home to the dish Cassoulet
  • The Roman city of Narbonne and the famous "Merchants 'bridge'


Just a few steps from the Mediterranean you can enter your riverboat and discover the Canal du Rhône à Sète and the Camargue region's channels, a journey through some of nature's great saltmarshes with flocks of pink flamingos. The lake Etang de Thau is a haven for birds and the renowned oysterbeds at Bouzigues. If you are lucky you will see the local guardian cowboys drive herds of wild white horses and hordes of jet-black bulls together.


  • Amazing beaches at Palaves les Flot, Carnon, La Grand Motte and Le Grau du Roi
  • Ancient harbours and fishing villages and historic towns - visit Aigues Mortes, Marseillan, Le Grau du Roi and Bouzigues
  • A paradise for wildlife - Camargue is the only breeding ground for the graceful flamingos throughout France
  • Visit the home of the lovely aperitif Muscat de Frontignan at Frontignan and Noilly Prat in Marseillan
  • Dine in the fantastic fish restaurants which serve delicious local specialities such as Moules Marinières, Bouzigues oysters and other grilled dishes

River Lot

The Lot River meanders between broad valleys with vineyards and narrow mountain gorges - under the steep limestone cliffs and past gushing rivers - west to the Gallic city Luzech and east to Larnagol. Look forward to the many castles, medieval villages like St Cirq Lapopie and Laroque - or adorable Verses for swimming in the clear water.


  • Spectacular natural scenery and varied wildlife - so do not forget your binoculars
  • Amazing prehistoric cave paintings at Pech-Merle Caves
  • St-Cirq Lapopie - a graceful city on a hilltop honey-coloured houses - famous for its artists and crafts
  • Cahors Pont Valentré from the 14th Century which has spanned the river for more than 700 years
  • Cahors wines and foie gras - local cuisine
  • Pull paths that are cut into the cliffs high above the river
  • Popular for water sports - rent a canoe or kayak 1 day


Charente is one of the most beautiful rivers in France. Its crystal clear waters are perfect for fishing and swimming and the beautiful river banks are home to a variety of flora and fauna. Meadows with grazing cattle and fields of sunflowers are typical of this peaceful region famous for the unique cognac distilleries, ancient Roman sites and beautiful Renaissance castles.


  • The moats around Angouleme with stunning views and the city's cathedral St. Pierre, from the 12th century
  • The elegant town of Cognac with a guided tour and tasting of Hennesey, Martell and Remy Martin distilleries
  • The town of Jarnac, located on the river - the birthplace of Francois Mitterand and the home of Courvoisier and Louis Royer Cognac´s houses
  • The unique castle at St Brice and the famous Michelin restaurant La Ribaudiere at Bourg-Charente
  • Chocolate Tasting at Trois Pallis
  • The town of Saintes with its Roman arch, amphitheatre and frescoes
  • The maritime yard from the 17th century, Shipbuilding and Corderie- Royale maritime centre at Rochefort
  • The amazing children's park at St Savinien with swimming pool and "crazy-golf", a perfect place for a picnic


Brittany's beautiful inland areas are steeped in Celtic charm and magic. Ancient customs are enforced and traditional dresses are worn proudly. The canal Nantes à Brest is rich in historical treasures and spectacular landscapes. Fairytale castles like the one in Josselin are reflected in the water while the boat is gliding by. Dock the boat in Malestroit with lovely houses from the 15th century, or in La Gacilly, home to many skilled artisans. Redon is just like a little Venice and was already established in the year 832 A.D.


  • The beautiful medieval town of Josselin with its wooden houses, terraces and impressive castle from the 12th century
  • Redon, the "Flower City" and famous for its botanical gardens and Yves Rocher perfume factory
  • Chateau Blain from the 12th century and its park
  • Impressive castles from the 18-19. century along the river Erdre in the direction of Nantes
  • The beautiful St-Pierre-Saint-Paul cathedral and castle at Nantes
  • Rennes - Capital of Brittany and the home of the great Thabor gardens and impressive residence from the 18th century
  • Walk in the medieval streets of the walled city of Dinan located high up in the cliffs overlooking the harbour
  • Sweet crepes, buckwheat "galettes", oysters and seafood - from the typical delicious Breton cuisine

Burgundy Franché-Comte

The landscape in Franche-Comte region of Burgundy is full of natural beauty; pine forests, waterfalls and mountains along the waterways with colourful fields and flower meadows.


  • World famous wines which are easily accessible from the waterways near Branges; visit Santenay, Puligny-Montrachet and Mâcon.
  • Michelin-starred restaurants and gourmet kitchens
  • Quaint boating on the river Saone and Seille - perfect for nature lovers and fishermen
  • Distinctive architecture, charming old towns with character
  • Dijon the former capital of Burgundy, known for its unique art collections and architecture and also home to the original Dijon mustard
  • Louhans - the lively Monday market must be experienced
Burgundy - Franché-Comte

Burgundy Nivernais Loire

The charming Canal du Nivernais - known as one of the most beautiful canals in France - and its surrounding network of other beautiful waterways such as Canal de Bourgogne and the River Yonne, offering some of the most beautiful and diverse areas of river sailing in France.


  • World-renowned cuisine and wines
  • Amazing views from the medieval towns especially Chatel Censoir and Clamecy
  • Beautiful architecture and Gothic cathedrals at Auxerre and Sens
  • A fine network of cycling paths between Clamecy and Auxerre
  • Craft in the medieval town of Clamecy
  • Purchase of delicious Pinot Noir wines and Chardonnay at Caves de Wine along the route
  • Exciting local markets in Florentin and Villeneuve-sur-Yonne
  • Outstanding castles at Chatillon-en-Bazois and Chitry-les-Mines
  • Good water sports on the lake Baye
Burgundy - Nivernais Loire

Alsace & Saarland

The small French region of Alsace and the neighbouring region of Saarland in Germany is as beautiful as the art and architecture found in its cities. Framed by the spruce trees in "The Black Forest" and the blue Vosges mountains, this culturally unique region greets with a special cosmopolitan atmosphere and offers a fantastic boating holiday for everyone.


  • Strasbourg - visit this UNESCO World Heritage City - with its stunning architecture, delicious restaurants and friendly cosmopolitan charm
  • France's oldest church, Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnais from the 4th century - admire the unique glass windows in St. Stephan's Cathedral in Metz
  • The beauty of nature in Saarland in Germany - perfect for nature lovers
  • Baroque castles and the open markets in Saarbrucken, perfect for a meal in the sunshine
  • Arzviller boat elevator - an engineering masterpiece that raises and lowers your boat 45 meters in just 20 minutes
  • Water sports, hiking and biking - something for everyone
  • Fine cycle routes on the well-preserved old barge paths next to the canals


Just a few hours from Paris, spectacular Anjou lures with a gentle landscape, exquisite gastronomy, dramatic castles and beautiful churches. The river Sarthe meanders quietly and nonchalantly through the green countryside with picturesque villages spread out as exciting cultural oases. It will also trill first-time sailors that there are few locks on the rivers. Along the way you can explore the elegant castle Plessis Bourre with the impressive moats, Benedictine Monastery Solesme and the racing town of Le Mans, who is best known for its racing, but also boasts a charming old quarter.


  • Gastronomic delights
  • The elegant castle Plessis Bourre
  • The Benedictine Monastery Solesme
  • The racing town of Le Mans
  • The museum of naive art in the city of Laval

The Ardennes

Experience the scenic Ardennes-region from your riverboat - the word Ardennes is Celtic and means "dense forest." A boating holiday in this area, with the clean country air, leaves one convinced that the lush area functions as Europe's lung. Nature is home to wild boar, deer and some of France's rarest bird species, not to mention that rare plants can also be seen here, such as orchids and the fly-eating sundew.


  • Nature
  • Gastronomic delights
  • The wildlife
  • Taste the local champagne in Epernay and Reims
The Ardennes


Take an unforgettable boating trip on one of our pénichette boats and explore the great waterways of Somme Picardie. You can sail on the beautiful Canal de la Somme, the Canal de St. Quentin Canal du Nord. Your boating vacation could, for example, lead you to Amiens, with its beautiful cathedral, listed by UNESCO as world cultural heritage city - and on to Hortillonages - the floating gardens which is one of Picardie's most famous sights.


  • Amiens with its beautiful cathedral, listed by UNESCO as world cultural heritage city
  • Hortillonages - the floating gardens
  • Canal de la Somme, Canal de St. Quentin and Canal du Nord

About boating holidays in France - Tips

Wonderful scenery, charming small towns, tempting markets and local specialities. Enjoy a delicious dinner on board, or visit the city's best restaurant. Stop where it suits you, amidst nature or by an idyllic village.


On the rivers, the distances are marked with PK (points km), it's 1 kilometre between each PK. Distances along the canal are marked in the number of metres between two points (eg. 3,300 = 3 km and 300 m).


There are several different types of locks in France. On the Lot and Charente, you'll find manual locks that are unmanned, so the crew must operate the locks by hand. In other areas, they are also unmanned but electronic, where the locks are either activated from the boat with remote control - or by pulling down on a 'rope' which is hanging by a wire across the canal, or at a control console on the banks of the lock.

Finally, there are locks operated by a lockmaster. Lock fees are included in the rental price. Some choose to give a little tip, others buy a bit of the lock master's home-grown products such as vegetables, eggs, honey or wine.

Be aware that it is the lock masters responsibility to operate the locks, NOT to assist you with boat and ropes!

The gates are normally closed between 12:00 to 13:00. Besides, the locks will be closed on fixed holidays such as Easter Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, May 1st, and the French National Day, July 14th. See also a special section on the opening hours of the channel map book - and ask at the base.

"Barages" (= weirs)

Along the way, you'll see on the river card so-called "barages", which is the French word for weirs. This is an artificial small waterfall or further damming of the river on one side, often associated with a lock. They are marked on the map with a heavy black line, designed either partially into the river/canal, or where the river/canal running along with a side river. Keep clear of these, since the water flow here can be somewhat stronger, follow the fairway. Keep some speed on the boat so it does not drift with the current. Should the engine stop, throw an anchor out quickly.


Many small towns have a small jetty with room for a few boats. Here you lie, good and free. If you want to stay in an actual port or marina, pay approximately € 10-20 per night, depending on boat size.

It may require a little more patience to find a good place on the rivers, as there may be too shallow or vegetated along the banks.

Keep in mind, that the rope is not tied to a tree or otherwise going to bother cyclists and walkers on the paths along the canals when the boat is moored in the open. There must be a clear path for everyone, including the service and emergency assistance can arrive.


Boulangerie (baker), 
Boucherie (butcher) and
Epicerie (grocery store) or 
Supermarche (supermarket)

Besides, several cities have the "Le Cave" or "Caveaux ", which is a small wine shop where you can buy wine from the barrel. Own bottles can be filled up with a "vin de table" (mainly one surprised good "common wine") - and always at a very reasonable price!

Shops are often open on Saturdays to 19.00 and Sundays to 12.00. Many have closed Mondays. Generally, there's closed for lunch between the hours 12 to 14.30. Ask at the base upon arrival.

Most cities - even small ones - have a weekly market, which can be a veritable wonderland for the ship's cook! Fresh vegetables, delicious cheeses, fish, meat and wine can be purchased from local producers.

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