Self-drive boats and canal boat hire

We have a wide range of modern cruisers and traditional style canal boats to suit all groups and budgets. No need for skipper licenses. Relaxed fun for all ages as couples, families and friends.
Select a houseboat or self-drive fleet and click for full details including photos, floor plans, rental prices, reviews and special offers.

With the ever-increasing popularity of activity-based holidays, our self-drive vacations allow you to enjoy a variety of pursuits guaranteeing a truly memorable trip, regardless of age and interests. Driving a boat is child's play and after a short induction course, you will be ready to cast off on a wonderful journey.

For historians and those that love architecture... explore ancient monuments, chateaux, abbeys, and museums.

Sporty? Hire a canoe, a stand-up paddle-board or bicycles... Or how about horse-riding, rock-climbing, tree climbing, golf, fishing or swimming?

Naturalists? The rivers and canals are natural habitats for a wide range of fauna and flora. Coypu, kingfishers, herons, birds of prey, majestic swans, flamingo, beautiful weeping willows, stunning water lillies...

Epicureans love our holidays! Visit the vineyards to see how wines are produced, take tastings in wine cellars and explore new cuisine and wonderful, fresh food in cosy waterside bistros or Michelin starred restaurants. On all the self-drive boats, the onboard galleys are well equipped should you prefer to cook. Many lock-keepers sell their home-made produce while local markets insure that you will be spoilt for choice.

Total relaxation? Bring your sketchbooks and Kindles, card games and favourite CDs. The peaceful waterways provide the perfect backdrop for some 'me' time.

With so much choice each day, this is surely the ideal family holiday.

Whichever one of the 12 countries you choose to cruise in, and whichever region, you will find plenty to see and do to keep you all happy.

Videos of the self-drive boats

Our team of experts are always pleased to help you choose the perfect destination to suit your particular interests.


The Penichettes are traditional style boats, which are provided with modern amenities for 2-12 guests, and are available in 5 countries.


Special offer

Self-drive cruises,  operating from 27 bases in five countries: France, Germany, Holland, Hungary & Portugal, Nicols offers four classes of boat all offering bright and spacious accommodation, for up to 12 people.

The new "C"  boats include air-conditioning, 220v electricity during navigation and a dishwasher too!

France Afloat

Discover a selection from the France Afloat fleet with 1st class self-drive boats

Le Boat

 40 different departure points in 8 countries, a vast choice.

France Passion Plaisance

Rental boats in many French regions

Saone Bateaux

Enquiry & availability

Please use the form below to check availability or ask any other questions.


After you've submitted your enquiry form, if you do not receive a reply within the next 24 hours
then please call Emma +33 614 250 200 or email