Boating in France 2019

Bonjour from Port Chalmers.

We trust you made the most of the glorious weather over Labour Day weekend, as it is rather different now.  Today’s wet and windy conditions remind me of our introduction to hotel barging way back in April 1984.  It was a cold and blustery day in Paris, when we discovered the barge owner drunk and incoherent in her cabin.  This was the first day of our first jobs on a hotel barge and the passengers were due any minute.  Our learning-curves rocketed skyward as Barbara took on the roles of chef and hostess as well as cabin girl and I became the host / waiter / tour guide / matelot.  Thankfully, we had a Dutch pilot arriving next day for the cruise from Paris to Briare.  Somehow it turned out OK, we even got good tips and so began our love affair with boating and the French waterways. Our original plan was to swim with dolphins kona hawaii, but things took a sudden turn and we ended up boating.

Lord of the Glen

Our boating adventures have continued and we’ve cruised virtually all the waterways of France as well as the Venice lagoon.    Last year we ventured into England to cruise the Kennet and Avon Canal and after next year’s tours, we will be joining friends in Scotland to cruise the Great Glen up to Inverness (photo above).  That will be another new experience, but it is also research;  in 2020 we are planning a tour to Scotland combined with the Mackintosh Trail around Collioure in France!  We do not have a brochure yet, or a price, but we do have an itinerary if you would like to know more ….

Next year’s tours are in Aquitaine, cruising between Toulouse and Bordeaux on the peaceful and beautiful Canal de Garonne.   Tour One filled very quickly but we still have vacancies for three people on Tour Two, 19 to 31 August 2019.  The itinerary consists of 2 nights in Bordeaux and 4 nights in the Dordogne, sightseeing by minibus, followed by 6 nights on the Rosa – a traditional Dutch barge with two double and two twin ensuite cabins.  Most meals are included and the price is 7300 Euros per person, share twin, or 8000 Euros for single occupancy.  The tours are guaranteed to depart, so please request a brochure if you would like to join us.

Our passion for boating has made it our specialist area and we believe that hotel barge cruises, or self-drive rental boats, offer the ideal holiday for a couple or a group of friends/family.

Hotel barges cruise in Scotland, England, Ireland, Venice and Holland as well as in France and they all combine boating adventures with sightseeing ashore and delicious food & wine.  Cruises are fully escorted and truly all-inclusive with prices starting around 3500 Euros per person.   Barges can accommodate 4-12 guests and most can be booked by the cabin, or as a private whole barge charter.

Luciole leaving Auxerre


Our favourite barge is the Luciole, cruising the picturesque Nivernais Canal in Burgundy from Auxerre (above).  They offer individual cabins (with no single supplement) for up to 12 guests, or whole barge charters for 8 to 12 which can be themed to suit the group’s interest – art, wine, history, cycling and walking, plus ‘family activity’ cruises including canoeing, zip-lining, horse riding, swimming, etc.


Randle Nivernais

On the same canal is the delightful, owner-operated, 4 passenger Randle (above).  The Randle is different in that most dinners are taken ashore at carefully selected restaurants and they offer 13 night cruises, as well as the usual 6 night, for whole boat charters.


Waving on Baise River

Self-drive rental boats offer a more informal and flexible holiday and are ideal for get-togethers, comfortably accommodating up to 10 people.  No licence is required and the boats are relatively easy to handle, so an hour’s tuition is usually all that is needed before heading off down the canal.  Most clients favour a one way route and plan for a week on the boat, but we urge everyone to think of the boat as a floating base, rather than as a means of transport.  If you rent the boat for 10 to 14 days, or longer, you will not feel compelled to move the boat every day and can explore ashore at your leisure.  Boating is quite  relaxing  and we recommend an average daily cruising of no more than 4 hours to allow for late starts, leisurely lunches, sightseeing ashore and the unexpected adventure …..    We work with all the rental boat companies, and so will find you the best boat on the best route for your holiday afloat.

What are you waiting for?  Get back to us and we will make your boating dreams a reality.


Robert & Barbara


Robert Buchanan & Barbara Keen

52 George St, PORT CHALMERS 9023, NZ

ph (64) 03 472 7856,  freephone (NZ) 0800 147 856