Canal Boats in France

We're new to this forum. We're hoping to do a week or two in a couple of rental trips within France, probably in late May/early June. We just got some info from the Locaboats and LeBoat sites but would welcome recommendations from anyone who has used these companies or knows of experiences with them. One trip will be in the Alsace region so we can use the famous Arvilles boat elevator, but we're open to suggestions of other routes. Burgundy has been recommended to us. Thanks in advance. Rob

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

I've done a batch with Locaboat, but can't think of a reason I wouldn't use LeBoat. Alsace is a good area, although I'd pick Brittany as the best, and certainly not hang my hat on the Arvilles lift. Burgundy would be toward the bottom of the heap, but I did it once. A common error is to get the rental bikes. I did that once and used them only because they were there and paid for. Walking works just as well and the darn things get in the way on the cabin top. The best way to pick a route is to choose one that has lots of potential stops. Try to stop early enough that you're close-in to the attraction - - stopping late means a long walk to supper. You'll want to have enough grub on the boat that you can cover most breakfasts and lunches. If you stop stocking right there, you'll have enough for snacks. The related problem is getting to a grocery store to get the food - - pickings are slim and expensive in the marina store. We just choke the price of having an unused car sitting at the marina - - at least parking is free. I'm not so sure I'd want to do two weeks in France on the same trip. I could make a good case for doing it on narrowboats in England - - BW does a top-rate job on the canals.

Posted by Bob
Chico, California, US
54 posts

My wife and I rented a boat from LeBoat last May with three other people for a week, and went on exactly the Alsace trip you refer to in your post: from Hesse to Boofzheim, by way of the Arzviller boat lift (and Saverne and Strasbourg). For the most part, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip and highly recommend that itinerary, although we have not yet been on any other canal trips to compare it with. The only negative experience was a mechanical problem with the LeBoat boat: there was a leak in the supply line of the fresh water system that caused the water pump to continuously cycle and ultimately fail. Mechanics from the company meet us twice during the trip trying to diagnose the problem before they finally replaced the pump on a (lengthy) third stop. So I can't give LeBoat my unqualified recommendation. But the Arzviller boat lift was fantastic, as were the two 2.5 km-long tunnels that lead to it. LeBoat advertises that no previous power boat experience is necessary to rent their boats. And that's pretty much accurate; we had very limited experience with power boats (although some sailing experience), but had no problems negotiating the 48 locks, the lift, the tunnel, etc. We did not have any problem with finding convenient places to stop each night, or with any other logistical issues. We ate dinner at some fantastic French restaurants near the canal, and had no problem with supplies. I can send you more particular details and a link to our pictures if you send me a private message. Bon Voyage!