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Skipper your own boat in France or five other countries

April 4, 2017 Cruise No Comments Email Email

Imagine cruising in southern France, exploring the wonderful Canal du Midi, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, as captain of your own Penichette. Pause along the way to enjoy local food, savour the region’s wines, visit medieval villages and take in glorious scenery.

If that sounds pretty close to heaven, Cruise Traveller has the perfect holiday. The key is Locaboat, a long-established French company that owns a fleet of 380 top-quality Penichettes and canal boats. No licence is necessary to steer these fully equipped and certified craft around and through canals and waterways.

All equipment, crockery, cutlery, bed-linen and towels are supplied, along with gas bottle and captain’s handbook. You’ll receive boat handling instructions and orientation on departure day to make sure you understand essential cruising rules (which are pretty simple).

Then, off you sail! Technical assistance is available seven days a week.

Regional France represents incredible value for Australian travellers. You can hire a Locaboat from €1284 (per boat) for seven days, specific dates apply. That price is  based on a Penichette P935W in France, minimum two people,  or comfortably fitting three.

Why not bring your friends! Larger Penichettes are available, with multiple departure dates and bases.

The itinerary is up to you. You’re the skipper. The Canal du Midi is a prime prospect; it’s near the heart of the Camargue, an amazing region on France’s Mediterranean coast, famous for its wildlife, its white horses, black bulls and pink flamingos. The Canal du Midi is also close to the Etang de Thau and its fantastic oyster beds.

Whichever trip you choose, you’ll cruise through exceptional cities. The area around Carcassonne, with its towers and battlements, impart the real flavour of the South of France, complete with fortified towns of white stone and historic villages like Trèbes and Puicheric. Medieval villages, Roman churches (Baraigne and Cazalrenoux), abbeys (St Papoul) and isolated monasteries – all can be visited from your self-drive canal boat.

Other suggestions: Narbonne, the former Roman town of Gaulle, Béziers and its cathedral, Saintes Maries de la Mer, and the magnificent Saint Gilles Abbey.

There’s no need to stop there. Locaboat, established in 1977, offers 200 different cruises to enjoy in 24 regions, not only in France but across Europe.

Locaboat has established 26 bases in six European countries: France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

Whichever region you choose, your boating holiday will be punctuated by beautiful landscapes and charming towns, castles, wine cellars and historical sights.

In France, options include Midi and Camargue, the Southwest, the Lot Valley, Brittany, the Ardennes and Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy and Saône, the Loire and Nivernais.

In Germany, Müritz and Mecklenburg beckon; or Brandenburg and Berlin. Perhaps choose the Netherlands and cruise either north or south Holland.

Another enticing option is Italy’s Venetian Lagoon. The great Renaissance maritime city of Venice crowns this enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea in northern Italy.

Poland’s Masurian Lakes offer plenty of choices. Countless lakes dot verdant, undulating landscapes, embellished by villages, tracts of forest and thriving farms.

Or choose Ireland. The Shannon-Erne Waterway, with its 16 automatic locks, provides a delightful latticework of rivers, canals, lakes, islands and villages. Pause for a Guinness and take your time! 

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