River cruising with le Boat

I am thinking of taking a 7 day one way river cruise from Chatillion-sur-Lorie to Decize and my wife is a little apprehensive, anything that might help to change her mind would be helpful. We would be traveling in late June or early July, what are the towns, waterway's, etc. like along the way.

Posted by Dan
Diamondhead, MS
132 posts

Hi Tony. Didn't do your cruise. But got back about 7 weeks ago from Nuremberg-Trier, along the Main, Rhine and Mosel. We're thinking of doing Passau-Budapest in 11 but may opt for our own trip from Barcelona-Paris through SW france. Would take another river cruise, though we have no interest in a big ship cruise. We enjoyed the trip. (Viking) It gave us the chance to unpack only once in 7 days. Saw a lot of small and quaint German cities and towns. Places we likely wouldn't have seen if we were on our own. I especially enjoyed sitting on the roof of the boat with a glass of wine, camera in hand. Watching Germany go by. We probably averaged a speed about like what I get on my bicycle. Another pro. You're with the same group for a week. So you have more time to share and get to know them. The cons. After the 7th quaint town, they start to look a lot alike. Pretty, but... And the tour guides start telling the same stories you already heard. But that's easily rendered by dropping some of the tours. Running off to explore on your own. Or just finding a cafe, having a glass of wine and watching and talking with the locals. Have fun.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

I think it's a grand idea - - mostly because I do it myself every year or two. The last time was way back a couple months ago in England. I've never heard of le Boat (always used Locaboat for France) and don't know squat about the river along there except from the banks. You'll like the towns and such, however. I can't get their brochure to blow up enough to see what a couple of symbols are. Worst case, they're locks (which are interesting to go through) which can become tedious if you've got a staircase facing you. I might quibble with your route, but that's personal likes. What I can't argue about is the one-way deal - - it sure beats out-and-back. There were too many boats for me to study, but I have couple of thoughts. Get one with covered steering since sometimes it rains - - enclosed steering is not necessary that time of year. Also get one that 'sleeps four" - - anything smaller and two of you will be really cramped. ('Sleeps-four means that the missing two would have to sleep on a pull-out setee or the dining room table.) Many outfits will tout bikes so you can take little jaunts - - skip that and walk - - they're a pain in the tail and you seldom/ever use them. Most boats come with some kind of stake kit so you can hook up to the bank where ever you want to stop, even if there are no mooring rings or bollards. No matter where you stop, you can lock the boat and wander off. Regarding grub. You'll need to stock up a little - - preferably at a real grocery store and not at the marina shop. A light breakfast and maye a couple of light lunches, snacks, and drinks are all you'll need - - plus maybe something for one supper, just in case you don't stop near a village one night (remote chance). more to come

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

The boats are a piece of cake to operate. My wife does just fine to the point that sometimes I take a nap, take a shower, or just get out and walk the bank. They're governed down to around three knots - - you can't ski. It's a relaxing way to spend a week. The best part is wandering into the towns - - stop at every one you come to. You'll also keep running into the same people as you move along, which adds to the enjoyment. If your wife gets really antsy, let me know. I'll cough up my wife's phone number and they can talk about everwhat wimmins talk about.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

Ed, we've been dreaming for years of doing the kind of boat trip in France that you are describing... which river / itinerary would you suggest in France? Which did you like the best of all, anywhere??

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Sheesh, you want me to bare my soul? I try to pass myself off as just a washed-up airplane driver, not somebody who knows anything about boats. I should have never opened my yap. Best in France that I've done: Camargue (Latte to Beaucaire and back) Best in France that I've wanted to do, but thought didn't exist anymore until finding out about leBoat from Tony: Brittany (Redon to Dinan) Worst in France that I've done: Burgundy (St Leger to Loisy) One in France that I'd never do: Canal du Midi - - the place looked like rental bumper boats when I helped a friend move a boat from Bordeaux (Atlantic) to Montpellier (Med) Best of all canal/river cruises: tie England: Market Harborough to Braunston and back Scotland: Inverness to Fort William and back Best all-time boat trips ever: tie Charleston to Bermuda and back - - I turned seventeen on the way home, the only other person on the boat stayed fifteen Capetown, SA to Savannah Ga - - solo, with a four-hour stop at St Helena

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

Ed, Thanks for opening your yap (and soul); my own mouth just went {wow!} Now I'll have to look up all of these (but not the last two! 16 and 15?! Solo, from SA?! Very cool...) Scotland is a surprise, my husband would love it. The Camargue has particularly caught my attention, the scenery and nature must have been otherwordly in a way... Again, merci beaucoup!

Posted by Marie
Wilmington, DE, USA
683 posts

It is a great slow way to enjoy the countryside and the many towns and villages along the way. I would recommend going down river or canal and not up. We did "up" river on our first self-drive boat rental and my husband had to climb up the side ladders and put the rope around the ballards in the locks. In France my husband alway walked or rode on one of our bikes to the nearest bakery in the morning & returned with fresh baked goods. We got enough supplies to make breakfast and lunch at a market near where we get the boat. One way rental is best. I like having a boat that has an inside and outside helm. I only drive from inside if raining. We have done 6 self-drive boat trips in Europe - 3 in France, 1 in Venice Italy area, 1 in England, and a narrow boat in Wales. We started out with Crown Blue Line which is now Le Boat. The people in Clearwater Florida are very helpful. I love the Burgandy area of France. I looked on the website - the first cruise that we took Le Boat calls the "Napoleon Short Break Cruise". We ate dinner out every night at beautiful 2 star restaurants and then boated past the village and tied to a tree for the night. In France my husband always purchases the "Guide Fluvial" for the area we will be in. We plan how far we would like to go each day, where to fill up the water tank (they show you how to do it), and where we would like to stop along the way and go out for dinner too. They do give you a lesson at the start of the trip. We usually plan to get to our last marina the last night and spend the night there before turning the boat over the last morning. Our last boat rental had a "side bow thruster" and it really made docking, etc easy.

Posted by Nukesafe
Anacortes, WA, US
56 posts

Tony, I just looked up your route and it looks quite doable one way in a week. You will have about 21 locks, all going downhill. I have not done this canal myself, but it looks like you will pass through some lovely country, with an interesting gaggle of small towns along the way. The time of year you have chosen is just ideal for "ditch crawling, and it should be a snap. We have done many, many, miles in the European waterways, and have watched many a novice couple handle the simple boat handling required with aplomb. If you can drive a bumper car, you can drive one of the canal boats. I would suggest you invest in a guide for the canal you are going to do before you leave. One I would suggest is one of the "Fluviacarte" (formerly Navicarte) series. Number 20, Bourgogne Est is the one you would want for the Canal Lateral a la Loire. It show the locks and gives a bit of information about the towns along the way. One place you can get them is: http://www.tagweb.co.uk/french-waterways/04-resources/guides-pilot-fluviacarte.html You can also have fun by looking at Google Earth, and following your route from space.

Posted by Nukesafe
Anacortes, WA, US
56 posts

Whoops! Sorry, Tony, I screwed up. Going from Chatillion-sur-Loire to Decize is going uphill, not down. Also, I looked at my chart again and there might be a few more locks than the 20 I mentioned, as there appears to be a double lock for getting into both Nevers and Decize. If it concerns you, you could do the one way trip in the other direction. Whatever you decide, you will love the French canals. Watch it, they can become habit forming.