Frequently asked questions
Questions and answers about barge and boat cruise vacations
"Do I need a licence to drive a boat?"
No; All our self-drive boats are under 15 meters in length, and therefore no license is required under French law. Among your cruise documents, you will receive a captains handbook with preliminary advice. Further instruction will be given at the base before you set off on your cruise.
"This is my first cruise; Which region should I choose?"
Almost all regions have some cruise routes suitable for beginners. The exception is the Lot, which is best left to the more experienced. We are always happy to guide you.
"River or canal cruise?"
In general, there are fewer locks on the rivers than canals; if this is a concern, please ask for advice.
"Should I book a one-way cruise?"
All one-way self-drive cruises are subject to change. The cruise direction cannot be guaranteed in advance. We highly recommend that you consider this and plan accordingly. Please ask our advice if you are unsure. When booking train tickets, it is possible to purchase tickets that can be modified. For pre and post-cruise accommodations, we recommend booking through a site such Booking.com or Hotels.com and selecting hotels which are not payable in advance and which can be cancelled up to 48 hours before arrival.
"I find steps difficult."
"One of our crew has a wheelchair" Some of our boats are built on just one level and are suitable for those with limited mobility. Simply ask for our recommendations.
"How will we get to the base?"
You may wish to hire a car. If not, there are rail services to many of our bases. In rural France, it is often necessary to take a taxi between the closest station and the departure base.
"I don't speak French; does this matter?"
No, although it is polite to make an effort when in France. A hearty "bonjour", "sil-vous-plait", and "merci" will be welcome. We recommend carrying a compact phrasebook with you.
"What cruise documents will I receive once I book my cruise?"
All clients receive a Confirmation document and a captain's handbook. Additional information varies from one fleet to another, but rest assured that you will have all the information you need to plan your cruise.
"I am concerned about my children's safety."
Life jackets are provided on all self-drive cruises. Children should wear them when cruising. Locks are particularly dangerous places: Lifejackets are available for adults and children alike.
"Won't the children get bored?"
There is plenty to see and do along the waterways, and children can drive the boat and handle the ropes under adult supervision. Remember to bring some simple games, books, and drawing/colouring supplies.
"Can we swim in the canal?"
We do not recommend swimming in canals. You may swim in designated swimming lakes or rivers as the current in the latter helps to keep them clean. There are numerous public swimming pools in Europe.
"We would like to cycle into villages and explore the countryside."
Bikes are available for hire. Please lock them to the boat or each other when not in use.
"Can I bring my bike?"
Yes, but do remember to bring a lock and helmet.
"Can I bring my well-behaved dog?"
Yes, but please do bring his bed and bowls. Dogs should not be allowed into the cabins nor to sleep or sit on the furniture in the boat's saloon. You will be charged for the boat cleaning service. Please note that in France, dogs should be kept on a lead in public areas.
"Can I moor up anywhere?"
Within reason, yes! You may moor anywhere within reason. The only restrictions are within 100 meters of a bend or a lock. There are designated ports along many routes, but you are not obliged to use them.
"Is it safe to leave the boat unattended?"
All boats can be locked. Please ensure that you close all windows from inside the boat before locking the doors. Theft is fortunately rare in France, but the loss of passports, cameras etc. could ruin your holiday.
"What about linen?"
Some hire companies supply all linen, while others supply just bedding linen. Ask for clarification if you are not sure. Pillows and quilts are provided on all boats.
"What should I bring with me?"
Sensible shoes with non-slip soles, boating gloves, a hat, sunglasses and sun cream are highly recommended! A lightweight waterproof jacket doesn't take much room in your case but could be useful. A few clothes pegs, a torch and binoculars are also a good idea.
"Is there a luggage limit?"
No, but remember that soft luggage is easier to store and takes less room than rigid suitcases. If coming by car, we recommend leaving your cases in the car.
"Are credit cards accepted everywhere?"
Visa and Mastercard are accepted widely, but there is often a minimum amount, e.g. 15 euros. In rural France, you can exchange travellers' cheques at Post Offices.
"Is France closed on Sundays?"
The French are keen to preserve Sundays. Local bakeries are open on Sunday mornings, but expect a queue and stock up for Monday, as many are closed on Monday. The vast majority of shops are closed on Sundays. Companies offering services such as car hire are also frequently closed.
"Is Paris closed in August?"
This myth is born out of the fact that most Parisiennes leave the capital in August for their summer holidays. Therefore, August is a very good time to visit Paris!
"Do we do day cruises?"
We do not offer day cruises. The minimum hire for a self-drive boat is a weekend; hotel barge cruises are for six nights.
If you wish to take a day trip, please get in touch with the town's Tourist Information Office: Details are available on the internet.