Watertravel & Waterside Destinations Self-drive cabin cruiser on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, Central France

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Self-drive Boat Rental in Central France

Perhaps less luxurious than holiday cruising on a canal barge, but for some a self-drive boat can be a lot more enjoyable.

Since the Loire River itself is free of dams and locks, its waters rise and fall with the seasons — raging at times and dwindling The bridge over the Loire River at Nevers is adjacent to a spillway that controls the flow of water to some extent.to a mere brook at others. If a boat’s draft is shallow enough, however, it can go places where the long barges cannot. We did see some fairly small houseboats on the Loire as far  upriver as Nevers, although they would not be going past that city since there is a low dam and spillway adjacent to the bridge. 

Navigating among the sandbars at that point in the river would call for far more experience than would a leisurely cruise on the Canal Latéral à la Loire. The sandbars bring up a point which A small houseboat on the Loire near Nevers passes sandy beaches. often is  unmentioned. Unlike many rivers of the world which have muddy banks or perhaps rocks and gravel, the Loire has some very inviting sandy beaches. Much like those of the Lower Rhine between Kleve and Nijmegen, they make for riverside picnicking and sunbathing that rivals a trip to the sea.

One principal advantage of a self-drive cruise is that you have the benefit of being in control of your itinerary. Of course, this control also implies that you have the responsibility for negotiating — both nautically and monetarily — the locks and canal bridges.

Barges and self-drive boats moored on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, Central France.

Self-drive boats cross the Allier River at Le Guétin, between Apremont-sur-Allier and Nevers.Shown here are private vessels crossing the Allier River at Le Guétin, between Apremont-sur-Allier and Nevers. This crossing over the Loire follows a route south  toward Decize, where the Canal Latéral à the Loire joins with the Canal du Nivernais, providing a route north to Auxerre and beyond to Paris and Normandy via the Yonne and Seine rivers.

The self-drive boat captain may find it helpful to learn a little French boating terminology, but a special license to pilot the boat is not required. Self-drive boats available from various companies which have berths to accommodate from two to 12 people, fully equipped with head, shower and galley.

Copyright© Don Douglas