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French Waterways


Boaty Jo

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Prompted by the 'Canals may have to close' thread, reference shortage of lock gates, there's a thread running on the Dutch Barge Association site about the potential downgrading of some French Waterways.

 

I'm not surprised frankly, having travelled many of them, some are very isolated.

Some smaller canals are popular with hotel boats, others with hire boats (The Nivernais for example), but others, though lovely to travel are very quiet. It wasn't unusual to see just the odd boat all day on some stretches. I'm sure money is tight as it is everywhere, we could see the beginnings of a pinch when we finished 6 or 7 years ago. Maintenance and weed issues.

 

I know that many (newer) boaters ambitions are 'modest' regarding their cruising itineraries, but I'm sure there are others who want to try further afield. What I'm saying is, don't leave it too long perhaps.  

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I would agree with the above, some of those waterways are really special but there are not many hire bases so much of the system never sees a hire boat and the more remote areas seldom see a commercial. If you're feeling adventurous bung your boat on a lorry and take it across, there are rules and regs , boats over 20 m are probably too difficult now and brexit has not helped but Bee has been there for 10 yrs (and will stay there) and we are planning 3 months this year, the smaller canals are much the same as the GU (The great big ones need a stiff drink and concentration)  If only we could shift haf the boats that are crammed on the UK canals and move them to the small French canals everybody would be happy.....

Edited by Bee
missed a bit
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28 minutes ago, Boaty Jo said:

Prompted by the 'Canals may have to close' thread, reference shortage of lock gates, there's a thread running on the Dutch Barge Association site about the potential downgrading of some French Waterways.

 

I'm not surprised frankly, having travelled many of them, some are very isolated.

Some smaller canals are popular with hotel boats, others with hire boats (The Nivernais for example), but others, though lovely to travel are very quiet. It wasn't unusual to see just the odd boat all day on some stretches. I'm sure money is tight as it is everywhere, we could see the beginnings of a pinch when we finished 6 or 7 years ago. Maintenance and weed issues.

 

I know that many (newer) boaters ambitions are 'modest' regarding their cruising itineraries, but I'm sure there are others who want to try further afield. What I'm saying is, don't leave it too long perhaps.  

 

We have never been lucky enough to have boated in France but have often sited near them and walked towpaths for a good few miles,

 

It is a fact that on some sections we have visited or sited near you can go a whole day and never ever see a boat, (moving or other wise.)

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All very sad but unsuripsing. When we finaly left the French canals in 2018 partly because of the brexit vote and things had been getting quieter for a number of years especially if you were doing long distance loops. The Dutch boats seem to have stopped doing longer trips and the canals were getting quite weedy  in places. On our last trip along the Canal de Bourgogne in 2014 I was told that it cost about 60,000euros for each boat that passed through the summit.

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49 minutes ago, Laurie Booth said:

 

Some familiar sights there! Is that one of Napton Narrowboats' French fleet? We hired one a few years later.

 

Didn't reckon much to the D.J.

 

 

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We very much enjoyed our boating holiday in Brittany even though the boat wasn't great.

 

The waterways were however very quiet, some days we didn't see another boat on the move. Even so they were very well maintained. Each lock having a beautiful lock house and a very friendly lock keeper.

 

There did seem to be an issue with abandoned boats, particularly around the Redon area. 

 

We are very much looking forward to our holiday over there in the van next year and plan to spend plenty of time by the water while we are there. High on the list to visit are Messac and Josselin. 

Edited by Naughty Cal
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1 hour ago, Boaty Jo said:

. What I'm saying is, don't leave it too long perhaps.  

Don't tell me, tell me how!  for years we took a week's hire-boat hols in France, cruising parts of the Canaux du Nivernais, du Midi, de Garonne and the catchy Canal Latéral a la Loire (which rattles off the tongue beautifully after the second glass of rouge) and most of the River Baise.

   But we haven't felt able to go over since 2019 because of the prevalence of corona virus over there, which has apparently been quite severe. We usually go in May and we'll have to make a decision soon as to whether we can risk it this year. The hire company still has our full payment from two years ago, so it wouldn't cost us much on top.

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9 minutes ago, Athy said:

Don't tell me, tell me how!  for years we took a week's hire-boat hols in France, cruising parts of the Canaux du Nivernais, du Midi, de Garonne and the catchy Canal Latéral a la Loire (which rattles off the tongue beautifully after the second glass of rouge) and most of the River Baise.

   But we haven't felt able to go over since 2019 because of the prevalence of corona virus over there, which has apparently been quite severe. We usually go in May and we'll have to make a decision soon as to whether we can risk it this year. The hire company still has our full payment from two years ago, so it wouldn't cost us much on top.

 

We are in France from June. Subject to 'you know what' (not boating though house with a pool).

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2 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

We are in France from June. Subject to 'you know what' (not boating though house with a pool).

Had we known Covid restrictions would have been relaxed quote so soon we would have probably headed across this year.

 

We are instead booked for the Isle of Wight, Devon and Cornwall, Scotland, North Norfolk and Suffolk amongst others.

 

As much as we are looking forward to this year's trips we are really excited about heading across to France next year. It is one of the main reasons we bought the van 😀

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1 hour ago, Bee said:

I would agree with the above, some of those waterways are really special but there are not many hire bases so much of the system never sees a hire boat and the more remote areas seldom see a commercial. If you're feeling adventurous bung your boat on a lorry and take it across, there are rules and regs , boats over 20 m are probably too difficult now and brexit has not helped but Bee has been there for 10 yrs (and will stay there) and we are planning 3 months this year, the smaller canals are much the same as the GU (The great big ones need a stiff drink and concentration)  If only we could shift haf the boats that are crammed on the UK canals and move them to the small French canals everybody would be happy.....

 

I'd still like to put my boat on a lorry and take it to France one day. I hope brexit hasn't scuppered that plan. The problem is not so much getting the boat over there but being able to stay for more than 3 months myself. My brother is living in Paris with his French wife and in the process of becoming a French resident/citizen, so I'm not sure if that would help me.

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30 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

We are in France from June. Subject to 'you know what' (not boating though house with a pool).

How long beforehand will you know if you'll need to have a "vaccination passport" or some sort of test? No doubt, if red tape is available, the French authorities will use it.

   I suppose that if we were still in Europe there would be no problems, free movement between member countries.

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10 minutes ago, Athy said:

How long beforehand will you know if you'll need to have a "vaccination passport" or some sort of test? No doubt, if red tape is available, the French authorities will use it.

   I suppose that if we were still in Europe there would be no problems, free movement between member countries.

France have scrapped tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

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30 minutes ago, Athy said:

How long beforehand will you know if you'll need to have a "vaccination passport" or some sort of test? No doubt, if red tape is available, the French authorities will use it.

   I suppose that if we were still in Europe there would be no problems, free movement between member countries.

 

Naughty Cal is correct - there are now no travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people. Whatever the official Brexiteer view, there has always been sufficient room within the EU Freedom of Movement law for each country to have its own variant of anti-Covid regulations, and I don't know off-hand what limits EU countries other than France still have.

 

 

35 minutes ago, blackrose said:

My brother is living in Paris with his French wife and in the process of becoming a French resident/citizen, so I'm not sure if that would help me.

That would not help at all, but it is possible to get a long-term visa for France relatively simply. If you drifted over the Belgian border during that period you would then be constrained by the 90 days in 180 rule while there.

 

Tam

Edited by Tam & Di
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24 minutes ago, Naughty Cal said:

France have scrapped tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

 

Yup thankfully. Hopefully it will stay like that.

 

You still have to do the declaration thing about not currently suffering from covid which doesn't seem too onerous.

 

 

35 minutes ago, Athy said:

How long beforehand will you know if you'll need to have a "vaccination passport" or some sort of test? No doubt, if red tape is available, the French authorities will use it.

   I suppose that if we were still in Europe there would be no problems, free movement between member countries.

 

Up until yesterday you had to have a neg PCR within 48 hours prior to travel or an antigen test. That is no longer required.

 

All the current up to date stuff is here.

 

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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4 hours ago, Bee said:

I would agree with the above, some of those waterways are really special but there are not many hire bases so much of the system never sees a hire boat and the more remote areas seldom see a commercial. If you're feeling adventurous bung your boat on a lorry and take it across, there are rules and regs , boats over 20 m are probably too difficult now and brexit has not helped but Bee has been there for 10 yrs (and will stay there) and we are planning 3 months this year, the smaller canals are much the same as the GU (The great big ones need a stiff drink and concentration)  If only we could shift haf the boats that are crammed on the UK canals and move them to the small French canals everybody would be happy.....

There is a lot of interest in Central and southern France but the poor waterways of Northern France don't seem to have many supporters. Part of the problem is that although there are many boats in French marinas (most full up) they do not require a licence unless they move maybe because of this few are seen cruising. North France is really close to the UK just hour and a half on the ferry, (less in the tunnel if you don't like boats) and there is plenty of nice countryside and interesting towns such as Lille, Arras, Douai, Cambrai within a few days cruising. The Somme is not so far and further East the Meuse and Sambre are amazing. There are large waterways here but loss of the little side canals would be disaster, already numerous pretty canals have been lost. It seems to be a lottery which canals are saved often based on whether the local council will put up some money. So do come, it will probably cost less than theUK, we pay around 800 euros for 13m mooring and the licence is about 450.

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iF the Russians get going the last place you want to be is in De La France. 

 

Much better to be in Englandland at least that way one has a chance of survival. 

 

Obviously the boats arrr not that important but my advice at this point would be do make sure you and your loved ones and more importantly the boats are "over here"

 

It could get naughty. 

 

I hope it does. 

Edited by magnetman
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17 minutes ago, magnetman said:

iF the Russians get going the last place you want to be is in De La France. 

 

Much better to be in Englandland at least that way one has a chance of survival. 

 

Obviously the boats arrr not that important but my advice at this point would be do make sure you and your loved ones and more importantly the boats are "over here"

 

It could get naughty. 

 

I hope it does. 

 

I seriously doubt it would be any safer in the UK than it would be in France.

 

In fact as we live not far from RAF Fylingdales we would be better off in France.

 

That is if one thought it would be better to survive a nuclear holocaust or not.

 

 

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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1 minute ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

I seriously doubt it would be any safer in France than it would be here.

 

In fact as we live not far from Fylingdales we would be better off in France.

 

That is if one thought it would be better to survive a nuclear holocaust or not.

Bet you 50p it won’t come a nuclear war in your life time. 

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The big problem is that the majority of the French boaters do not think about inland waterways. They sail or cruise the med Brittany etc. We did think that during our 18 years there that there’s was a small increase in French interest but the majority of moving boats were Dutch, Belgian, British, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans. The Dutch and Belgians do round trips and usually no further South than the Saone. The rest have gravitated to Burgundy and the South lured by the climate and the facilities. The Northern waterways are generally large scale and busy commercially with poorer facilities for pleasure boating which puts off many people who use them just to get south quickly.

There clearly is a lack of maintenance on the smaller central canals and lots of the newer people won’t consider tackling the 100  plus locks of the Yonne side of the Burgundy canal which is making the logic for keeping the heavily locked section from Venerey to the summit difficult to support . 
There are 4 routes linking the North and South all small scale canals one of which has been designated the main route for commercial traffic which unfortunately is declining partly due to the paucity of return loads. The Nivernais is busy with hire boats and Hotel boats on its Northern side but not so much on the Loire side which is restricted  to 30m. The Loire canal is busy with hire boats and private but still has manual locks and for the last few years the Meuse has suffered from water shortages and been shut during high season.

However for the average pleasure boat or barge there’s still a great time to be had and I only wish our health had let us keep going.

One of the side effects of the Covid pandemic is the closure of the Fluvial magazine the only inland waterway one in France.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

The big problem is that the majority of the French boaters do not think about inland waterways. They sail or cruise the med Brittany etc.

Its chicken and egg, most French marinas are full , so how do you get more boaters, there is no continuos cruising here.

 

 

Northern waterways are generally large scale and busy commercially with poorer facilities for pleasure boating which puts off many people who use them just to get south quickly.

But in Belgium the waterways are mainly large scale but there is a lot of pleasure boating and a lot of moorings

 

 

2 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

 

 

2 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

 for the last few years the Meuse has suffered from water shortages and been shut during high season.

not strictly true we went from Namur to Charleville Mezier in 2019 and it was fine it was only further up that the water shortages hit, 2021 on the other hand The Meuse was in flood in June wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near there!!

However for the average pleasure boat or barge there’s still a great time to be had and I only wish our health had let us keep going.

One of the side effects of the Covid pandemic is the closure of the Fluvial magazine the only inland waterway one in France. True and desparately sad about Fluvial

 

 

 

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