Our licence-free river and canal boats are especially designed to be used even if you have no prior experience and don’t require any specific skills. There’s a wheel (that works just like your car’s steering wheel) and a reverser that controls engine power and both forward and reverse directions.
Sailing on canals and waterways allows you to travel differently, at a quieter pace, away from traffic jams and crowds, while fully enjoying the scenery. River tourism is developing well in France and more and more of you are choosing to rent a boat without a licence to discover a region. Especially since the rental of such a boat is accessible to everyone, since it does not require any specific experience or knowledge. And if you have decided to take a river cruise on board a barge without a licence for the first time, rest assured, everything will go well! You will see, you will quickly be won over by this navigation mode.
You've never driven a boat before? Or navigated a canal? Don't worry, it's relatively easy! Indeed, the unlicensed barges available for charter have been designed precisely for people with no sailing experience. Their management is therefore simple. A bar, which works in the same way as the steering wheel of a vehicle, allows you to steer. To drive forward, reverse or adjust the power, simply use the single lever. Manoeuvring is also easy. And for locks, our team will explain how they work and how to pass through them successfully during a pre-departure training session. In addition, on site, if a lock operator is present, he or she can help you.
By booking a cruise and boat rental on our site, you will enjoy an unforgettable experience. During a weekend, several days or weeks, you sail on a barge without a licence, in a magnificent setting and discover a different region. And if this is your first time, we advise you not to worry. Flying a barge is much easier than it seems, as one of our team members will explain to you on the day of departure. In your luggage, remember to bring flat shoes with non-slip soles, gloves to protect your hands during certain manoeuvres, rain gear (just in case, you are never safe from a shower) and everything you need to enjoy the sun. We also recommend that you take a travel bag instead of a suitcase that will take up more space. Finally, find out about the places to see and activities to do in the area where you are going. This will save you time during stopovers!
Do you love good food and want to combine your trip with tasting some great wines?
Is this a family holiday with an emphasis on things for the kids to do?
Are you interested in history, old buildings and monuments?
Do you prefer sporting holidays?
For each region and waterway we have picked what makes them particularly attractive: just check out the pictograms below:
For history lovers who want to see lots of historical monuments
Discovering fauna and flora in the midst of an unspoilt countryside
The vineyards where France’s most prestigious wines are produced
Good food and remarkable local gastronomy
Towpaths are the perfect place for all cycling enthusiasts to enjoy their favourite activity
Fishing is the best way to relax amongst friends
Swim in lakes or access the beach directly depending on the region
Water sports are just a boat ride away
Renting a self-drive boat isn’t difficult!
You don’t need a licence to drive any of our river or canal boats.
When you arrive at our base, you’ll first need to complete a few formalities to do with your holiday (sign the rental contract for the canal boat, give your credit card details for the deposit, pay for the options you might have booked). Next our team will explain how your boat works (gas, heating, the fridge…) and then will give you a briefing about how to go through locks and manoeuvre with your river boat, not forgetting vital safety information (signs, reading a river map…) After the briefing we will give you a ‘carte de plaisance’ (a boating permit that you must keep with you throughout your holiday) and all that’s left is to go and get your suitcases and cast off.
Going through locks on your self-drive boat
Depending on your destination you will encounter different types of locks during your travels: manual, electric, round and automatic locks. Depending on the region there may or may not be a lock keeper to help you during the manoeuvres. During your pre-departure briefing on how to handle the boat, our team will tell you about the type of locks you can expect to come across and what to do.
Holidays of a week or more:
Depending on the departure base, you will set off on a Monday, Friday or Saturday. We expect you from 3 pm onwards (2 pm at Redon). For organizational reasons, we are not available to deal with you if you arrive before these times.
You will embark between 4 pm (2pm at Redon) and 6 pm.
You must be back for 9 am.
Fridays from 4 pm (2 pm at Redon). You will embark between 4 pm (2pm at Redon) and 6 pm and you must be back by 9 am Monday morning, or 5 pm Sunday depending on the base.
Short week breaks:
Mondays from 3 pm (2 pm at Redon). You will embark between 4 pm (2pm at Redon) and 6 pm and you must be back by 9 am on Friday.
Except for long holidays (more than 2 weeks), you won’t need to add any fuel during the trip. In case of very long holidays, we will come and fill the boat up ourselves.
All our boats are equipped with an hour counter which will be read at the start of your trip and when you return: the number of hours use will be invoiced at the going rate: count between €30 and €50 depending on the size of your boat per day. On some bases a fuel advance will be required.
Partner CRIS BOAT’s fleet is fully insured, however we hope that you will take good care of the boat and its equipment. The insurance includes accidental damage excess and for this reason you will be required to pay a deposit before you embark. The boat’s insurance does not cover the person(s) renting the boat or the crew, nor does it cover civil liability or personal belongings.
Bond redemption insurance: This insurance guarantees the refund of the deposit, but does not exempt you from paying the deposit before embarking. This is a collective contract: you may consult the terms and conditions upon request).
Deposit: The amount varies depending on the category of your boat. The deposit is paid before embarking to cover damage excess and will be refunded when you return, unless the boat or its equipment has been damaged. Please note this deposit is obligatory even if you take out the optional ‘Bond redemtion insurance’.
Cancellation: Cancellation insurance allows you to receive a refund of the sums paid should you cancel your holiday (see the Terms and Conditions of Hire).
There is no standard length and width for berths. The average length is 1.90 m, but some beds may only be 1.83 m long.
- Double beds: on average double beds are 1.40 m wide, but in certain circumstances may not be more than 1.15 m.
- Single beds: on average single beds are 0.80 m wide, but in certain circumstances may not be more than 0.65 m wide.
- Berths in the central saloon are convertible double beds.
Wherever you are, should you have any problems our teams of professionals will intervene as soon as possible, 7 days a week.
On board: Mooring ropes – lifebuoy - boathook – mooring stakes and mallet – anchorage – fenders - 10-litre bucket - hosepipe - gangway.
Safety: Medical kit – ship’s log – life jackets – fire extinguishers - torch (batteries not included).
Household: Ashtray – scrubbing brush - broom – washing-up brush – coat hangers – brush and pan - WC brush – clothes pegs - basin - dustbin - floor cloth.
Crockery: drinking glasses – table glasses – dinner and desert plates – soup bowls - breakfast bowls - teacups - dishes – salad bowl – coffee jug and filter holder – water pitcher – cutlery tray and cutlery – salad servers – lemon squeezer - teapot.
Linen: Bolsters or pillows – pillow (bolster) cases - sheets – blankets or duvets.
Heating: All the boats are equipped with a forced-air heating system (fuel boiler on some boats, hourly rate to pay back) which allows you to heat the interior of the boat for your own comfort, however it will not enable you to maintain a constant temperature.
The kitchen: You will always have a hob, an oven (except Linssen), a fridge, a sink as well as: a trivet – bread basket – plastic boxes – a tin opener - a bottle opener – a corkscrew – vegetable knife – kitchen knives - a ladle – a skimmer – wooden spoon or spatula – chopping board - saucepans – saucepan lids – frying pan – salad spinner- pressure cooker or stew pot - strainer.
Hot water: There is hot water on all our boats if they are designed to be lived in, in fact the motor produces hot water when it is running. If your hot water tank is empty, all you need to do is to run the motor for a few hours to get a full tank again.
Mains (220V) equipment: Not all our boats have 220V sockets on board, however they all have a 12V cigar lighter type socket. If you have a 12V charger, you will be able to recharge your mobile phone. For devices requiring 220V you will only be able to use them on board if you hire a 12V- 220V transformer (150 W max).
If you choose a return cruise, you will enjoy a wide variety of landscapes that you can see from different angles and perspectives on your outbound and return journeys. However in some regions one-way cruises are also on offer, which depend on certain conditions and that may have to be cancelled or modified due to unforeseen circumstances. That’s why your one-way cruise and its direction (departure and arrival base) are only confirmed 48h before the departure date. This option is considered as an extra service and therefore gives rise to extra costs.
Let’s start with the suitcase itself: ideally it is best to bring a sports bag or a similar kind of luggage. Space is limited on board and rigid suitcases could well get in your way during the holiday. We advise you to pack light clothes (shirts and swimwear) but just in case to also pack some warm clothes and waterproof garments, depending on the season of course. Trainers are indispensable; in no case should you wear more formal shoes which can not only damage the boat but are positively dangerous on board. Our boats are well equipped so you won’t need a lot of things in your bag. Don’t forget: your camera, batteries and a torch, a pair of binoculars, a pack of cards and something to read.
Water: Your boat’s tank is filled up before you leave. Its capacity ranges from 200 to 1,400 litres depending on the model, which gives you 1 to 2 days’ autonomy. You can fill up at the water points that are indicated on the waterways map that is provided on board.
Electricity: Running the motor for 4 to 5 hours a day will produce enough electricity for a 24h period, however the electricity on board a boat must be used sparingly and cannot be compared to the level of comfort you are used to at home. The power supply is often 12 volt and stored in batteries used to run the fridge. The electricity you produce can power the lighting, ventilation, and sometimes, on boats equipped with 220 volts, the air-conditioning, dishwasher etc. Whether when cruising or connected to a power supply at a mooring, pieces of equipment that use 220 volts must not be used simultaneously (eg: air-conditioning + dishwasher). In some regions, there are not many power hook-ups at moorings, or their amperage may not be sufficient to use the equipment on board. If the boat is equipped with 220V sockets, they can only be used when the boat is hooked up to an external power source. The capacity of the fridges is given for information purposes only and may vary depending on the region.
Gas: A 13 kg bottle of gas is supplied for the heating, hob and oven. On certain models, it is also used to power the fridge. Some Pénichettes® have oil-fired heating instead of gas. No extra bottles of gas are supplied. Oil-fired heating is invoiced at a tariff that depends on the current price of oil.
Some rivers and canals may be subject to flooding or a lack of water, mainly in spring and autumn. These events may oblige us to modify the departure base and change your holiday to another waterway. In any event, modifying the departure base or changing your itinerary does not constitute a cancellation and you will not be entitled to a refund.
Before you embark, you will be required to pay 2 deposits: one for the boat and the other for the cleaning service. The boat deposit is obligatory, even if you take out our ‘assurance croisière plus’ insurance policy. Its amount depends on the category of boat; it covers the accident damage excess and will be given back upon your return, provided the boat and its equipment are undamaged. The cleaning service deposit will be given back if the boat is returned in a clean condition. This deposit is not payable if you opt to have the boat cleaned.
The only obligatory extra charge is the hourly navigation rate, which is invoiced on your return depending on how many hours the motor has been used. This fixed rate varies from boat to boat and the number of hours cruising. It covers oil and fuel usage. You leave the base with a full tank of fuel and you will usually cruise between 5 and 6 hours a day. The tariff changes depending in the current price of fuel. At some bases you can opt for the Serenity/Liberty/All Inclusive/Package Pack’ which includes the hourly navigation rate and other options.
All the boats are equipped with a forced-air heating system which allows you to heat the interior of the boat for your own comfort, however it will not enable you to maintain a constant temperature. It is however limited to the central saloon and will only enable you to cool down the ambient temperature by a few degrees (2 or 3 at the most) and not maintain a constant temperature.
Some boats at some bases are equipped with a bow thruster. These are propellers placed in the boat’s bow so that it may be moved laterally. This thruster makes manoeuvring much easer, however it should be used with caution, especially on canals because of the risk of sucking up mud and pebbles from the bank. If this element breaks down during the cruise, it is often impossible to repair it, in which case you will continue your holiday without a bow thruster. Should the client insist on repairs being made, they will be invoiced. Unforeseen circumstances may mean that the boat with a bow thruster that you reserved is no longer available on the departure date.
Pets are welcome on board. A supplement of €35 - €50 will be requested at certain, but not all bases.
You may fish in the canals and rivers as long as you get a fishing permit beforehand. The permit is on sale in fishing shops or on internet. It costs around €30 for a fortnight.
** Included on some boats