Waterways Books

This is our selection of informational books and guides to France, the French waterways, and European rivers and canals. For those vital pilot books and chart-guides see our Pilot Books page. Click on the book covers for more information and to order a copy.

France’s clearest road mapping is provided by Institut Geographique National (IGN). French road names are used throughout, plus there is road mapping for Corsica and Central Paris included. Each page has been titled with its geographical location so you can turn to the page you need more easily. With expert mapping from the AA and Institut Geographique National (IGN), this A4 format atlas contains with more than 1,000 static speed camera locations pinpointed on the mapping. Fully revised and updated for 2012, this specialist road atlas designed for the British motorist in France includes 32 city centre plans to help you find your way in and around busy centres.

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This sequel to “Watersteps” tells the story of the Coopers’ voyage by barge from the North Sea, eastbound across flooded France, down the Rhine in full spate, through the new Rhein-Main-Donau Kanal, and down the Danube to the Black Sea.

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Charts the author’s bid to fulfil a childhood dream of becoming a real Man as he struggles to make the journey from clinically social townie to rugged, solitary paysan. Life-affirming, laugh out loud funny and written with insight and affection (and boasting more than its fair share of larger-than-life locals, bilingual chickens, diminutive but over-sexed sheep, invisible rodents, diseased root vegetables, manly power tools with unpronounceable names, not to mention a fair few femmes fatales), Michael Wright’s tale of a new-found solitary life in France is as much an elegy for rural France, fast disappearing under the invasion of ‘Les Anglais’, as for his own lost innocence.

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A guide to the varied network of rivers and canals that penetrate almost every region of France. It provides information on the history, architecture, engineering structures, chateaux, historical sites and scenic attractions of each navigation, enabling the reader to identify areas of great beauty and interest. Maximum craft dimensions are provided together with details of bankside moorings, repair yards, shops, restaurants, fuel and water points and appropriate map and guides for each section. This edition includes all recently restored navigations and explains newly introduced licensing and personal qualification requirements.

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This book is an excellent starting place for the novice. It clearly illustrates the signs and symbols you are likely to encounter on European waterways, as well as providing other essential boating information.

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Anyone who admits to a sense of confusion when confronted with the bewildering array of European waterway signs, symbols, rules and regulations should find this book useful. The author demystifies this world for the visitor, thereby eliminating any problems that may arise. This second edition includes chapters for Americans considering cruising the European waterways and for Med-bound sailors. 2003 edition – may be past its prime.

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Brenda Davison and her husband chose to sail their catamaran to the Mediterranean using the leisurely route through the French canals from St. Valery to Port St. Louis du Rhone. Her descriptions of the places they visited en route and of the canals themselves, the lock keepers and the towns on their banks will delight those countless thousands of people who love France and its way of life. An essential guide to those contemplating a similar journey.

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Paul and Sheryl Shard are the pre-eminent award-winning sailor-filmmakers. Cruising onboard their Southerly 42 and 49 yachts “Distant Shores” they have sailed 90 000 nautical miles together, crossing the Atlantic five times and making superb – inspirational and practical – films along the way. There are 91 film episodes of their journeys to date.

In 2012 (using french-waterways.com as one of their guides!) they sailed from the UK and through the French canals. Taking the Bourbonnais route, this DVD follows them from Le Havre to Paris, through the Loire-Centre canals, to the Saone and the Rhone and into the Mediterranean.

As well as being a superb video documentary about “Through the French Canals”, the DVD also covers practical aspects such as preparation, fendering and lock technique.
Click here to view a short 3 minute extract.

$15.95 (USD)* *(approx. 12€)
September 2013 – Full-colour – 140 minutes – All RegionsPurchase French Canals DVD by Distant Shores

The DVD will be sent from Distant Shores’ Canadian office.

With passion and wit, Bernard Levin describes his travels on foot through the beautiful countryside of south-eastern France. He follows in the mighty footsteps of the great Carthaginian enemy of Rome, Hannibal, who made the expedition with an army and elephants nearly two millennia before. From the Camargue via the Rhône Valley, across the Alps and into Italy during August snowstorms, he comments on the social and historical importance of the landscapes he passes through, taking detours to the table of chef Jacques Pic at Valence and the Arles region immortalised by Van Gogh.

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The Languedoc is famed for its landscape, legendary gastronomical pleasures and rich culture, stretching from the Rhone to the Pyrennees, it is one of Europe’s oldest provinces and one of it’s most fertile regions. Hot Sun, Cool Shadow, is a vivid account of their quest for the finest wines, cuisine and characters. Along the way they discover ancient houses, take in the scenery that inspired great artists like Henry Matisse, retrace the steps of Toulouse-Lautrec, and recreate typical dishes of the region; finally settling themselves in this staunchly independent agricultural region, where life moves at a steady pace under the mellow sun.

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Perfect for the Seine (Le Havre or Honfleur) entrance into the inland system.

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Inland Waterways of Europe – Map – New Edition – Larger Scale

Inland Waterways Rivers and Canals of Europe map


An extremely interesting and useful map, covering all the navigable canals and rivers of Europe from Ireland in the west to Russia in the east. On one side the map covers Dublin to the Danube (Bratislava); on the other the whole of Europe including Scandinavia through to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. On high quality paper.
Complete 56 page Gazeteer Directory

Contact us for special (e.g recorded, insured) delivery services

19€ + P&P

Inland Waterways of France – Map

I W France - map

Excellent and up-to-date (2012) map of all navigable French canals and rivers, plus (uniquely) Belgium, Holland and the Rhine. Scale  1: 1 500 000 with clear graphics that note key characteristics for each waterway. High quality durable paper.
Companion to the ‘Inland Waterways of France’ book.

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12 € + P&P

Inland Waterways of France – David Edwards-May

Inland Waterways of France
The standard guide to the French canals and navigable rivers includes maps and distance tables for each waterway, giving the user a general view of the geography of each waterway as well as a detailed cockpit reference. The introduction forms a comprehensive general guide to the French waterways, including distances and overall dimensions, formalities, navigation regulations and up-to-date list of hire operators, making inland waterways of France not just an unrivalled planning tool but also an outstanding cruising reference.

( Waterways GPS SatNav software also now available )

Revised 2010 – Full-colour. Contact us for special (e.g recorded, insured) delivery services
35.00€ + P&P
This book aims to help yachtsmen and motorboaters pass the ICC test – essential for anyone wanting to take their boat to the inland waterways of Europe and to many European coastal waters too. Now revised for the second edition, Bill Anderson explains the syllabus in detail, provides revision notes on all the subjects in the test, and includes a set of self-test questions and answers at each stage to help readers take the ICC test with confidence. ‘Well presented, well illustrated and clearly written…a concise and handy guide that will fulfil all the candidate’s requirements.’ Nautical Magazine

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“Keeping Afloat” is a light-hearted tale of John Liley’s exploits on the canals of France. John was working for a boating magazine when he was overcome with a dream of owning and operating a hotel-barge in France. Now, thirty years on, he tells of his often hilarious misadventures in the early days of setting up a business that would keep afloat. Characters such as The Whizzer, Mighty Min and Monsieur Bertrand would be unbelievable if they were not true. Barge enthusiasts and landlubbers alike will laugh with and at John’s exploits.

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When Patricia Atkinson – bestselling author of “The Ripening Sun” – first moved to France, her intention was simply to establish a vineyard. Over the years, however, she found herself becoming integrated into a way of life that, had she stayed in England, she would hardly have believed existed. “La Belle Saison” is Patricia’s eulogy to this way of life: a testament to the timelessness of the beautiful French countryside, the bounty of the land, and the generous-hearted French neighbours who showed Patricia that a simple life has many rewards.

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Mini Rough Guide to Paris is the ultimate pocket handbook to Europe’s most alluring city. The new, full-colour section introduces Paris’ highlights, with incisive accounts of all the top sights from the Eiffel Tower to the Marais quarter. There are expert reviews of all the best hotels and restaurants, plus expanded coverage of the all the top bars, shops, clubs and markets. The guide also covers excursions away from the city, including day-trips to Disneyland Paris and Versailles. This portable guidebook comes complete with clear, readable maps that have grid references for all the top attractions and recommendations.

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When they retired, Terry and Monica Darlington decided to sail their canal narrow boat across the Channel and down to the Mediterranean, together with their whippet Jim. They took advice from experts, who said they would die, together with their whippet Jim. On the Phyllis May, you dive through six-foot waves in the Channel, are swept down the terrible Rhone, and fight for your life in a storm among the flamingos of the Camargue. You visit the France nobody knows – the backwaters of Flanders, the canals beneath Paris, the heavenly Yonne, the lost Burgundy Canal, the islands of the Saone, and the forbidden ways to the Mediterranean.

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Combines rich cultural and historical information and lively coverage of all the sights with detailed practical information – for all budgets. Special attention is given to outdoor activities, including cycling and hiking as well as boating the region’s famous inland waterways. Expert advice is given on making the most of the region’s gastronomic specialities and vineyards. Coverage is close up and critical – the guide tells you what to see, what to pass up and gives you all the inside information to make your travels in the region rich and rewarding.

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Living afloat on inland canals, rivers and waterways is a popular choice throughout the UK and Europe, and its popularity is growing. Bill and Laurel Cooper are the experts on living afloat. Practising what they preach, they have lived aboard a variety of boats throughout the Europe for over 30 years. Covering UK, European and American inland waterways, they offer practical, first-hand expert advice on: suitable boats; likely costs; rules and regulations; insurance considerations; pros and cons of the ‘liveaboard’ lifestyle; dealing with health and other problems; provisioning; and, much, much more.

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When ex-blues drummer John Dummer decamps to France to start up as an antiques dealer and live the simple life, he doesn’t count on meeting Serge Bastarde. The lovable (if improbably named) rogue and brocanteur offers to teach John the tricks of the trade in return for his help in a series of breathtakingly unscrupulous schemes. Filled with eccentric characters, high jinks and unlikely adventures, this is a hilarious romp through the real rural France.

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Hope’s dispatches from the French Front – from the villages, cafes, bars and junk shops of Languedoc – do not describe rural idyll but a world of rogues and raconteurs, lovers and losers whose two preoccupations are inextricably entwined: love and death. “There is Sophie, a New Zealander who believes she is God. There is Lizzie from Lancashire who plies her trade as a prostitute with expatriate Britons only. But in Hope’s hands this gallery become neither charming eccentrics nor colourful locals, but an exotic shifting populace that reads more like persuasive fiction than travelogue.

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Has probably tempted more people to explore the beautiful waterways of France than any other book. A bestseller for many years and now in its 11th edition, it is the essential planning guide for anyone wanting to cruise through the stunning scenery of the French waterways, or who is simply on passage from the English Channel to the Mediterranean. Packed with photographs and updated practical information on local facilities, distances, heights and depths, tunnel lengths, cost of living and shopping, it particularly mentions the local wines of the region.

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Presents a concise cartography of all the navigable French waterways, large and small, and makes it possible to know the principal characteristics of them. Each waterway has its own diagrammatic map, with key distances, locks and dimensions. The map of the French inland waterways included is very detailed, and makes it possible to prepare river routes, without surprises. We are not keen on the Vagnon guides, but this is very good, very useful.

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When Bill and Laurel Cooper decided to spend the winter in the South of France, they took their seaworthy but half-finished Dutch barge “Hosanna” by an inland route through the canals and rivers of France. Climbing the watersteps of the Massif Central, they passed through some out-of-the-way places, made a variety of friends and had many adventures before they arrived in time for Christmas in the Camargue. In this book, the Coopers describe their experiences of the French, their folklore, customs and food.

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