Friday 18th September 2009
The taxi fetched us on time and dropped us at Villanouvelle station where we took the only train of the day back to Toulouse or the pink city as they call it in France.

Tips for a French Canal Boat Holiday

1.    Take gardening gloves if your hands are tender. Thick course ropes can shred your skin when you tie up for the night or secure your boat in the locks.

2.    Do try and learn basic French. The French speak a lot more English than they let on but it is only polite to make an effort to speak their language in their country. Besides you will need to buy provisions, read notices or maps and ask questions of the Lock keepers and locals. We bought the Michel Thomas Learning French CD set.

Greenie at Villenouvelle train station

3.    Pack sun-hats and sunscreen. The temperatures were between 23’C and 29’C when we went, which was between seasons. It is the south of France. The mornings were cool but the afternoons were hot.

4.    We didn’t take the extras on offer such as bicycles and the insurance in lieu of a deposit. There is so little time to use the bicycles and a short walk is just as nice.

5.    It would be wise to have some boat handling skills. No formal qualifications are required but the boats can be unpredictable in currents and wind.

6.    Pack light coloured sole shoes so as not to mark the boat and make sure they are non-slip. Leaping on and off a boat for locks and moorings is a lot harder if your shoes are falling off.

7.    If you wish to fly the flag for your country then take one with you. People greet their fellow countrymen with gusto. We always fly our flag.

8.    Pack running shoes. The canals are sheltered by the plane trees and an apr├Ęs journey walk or run is a great way to relax at the end of the day and stretch your legs.

9.    It is mostly older and retired people who do these trips and while they aren’t strenuous they do require some effort. You will be leaping on and off boats and heaving ropes.

Gare de Villenouvelle

10.     Go easy on the water when on a boat. They come with about 200 L tanks, which is not a lot. Get into the habit of re-using water for dishes and when showering use the spray to wet yourself and to rinse. Switch off while you soap up to conserve water. Save shaving and shampooing for when you are in a bigger mooring places where they have facilities.

Boat hire companies –
Nautic –
Nicols –
Locaboat –
Le Boat –
Rive de France – They also do bike trips –
France Fluviale –
Minervois Cruisers – English narrow boats –

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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