Hiring and driving your own cruising boat is an ideal way to explore and experience the pleasures and treasures that the French waterways have to offer. Hire boats come in different sizes, to suit a couple, a family or you and your friends, and your holiday can be arranged from start to finish by any of the reputable companies to be found here.

  • Hundreds of boats, of all types and sizes, to choose from
  • Thousands of kilometres of lovely canals to explore
  • Perfect for ‘absolute beginners’ – no qualifications required!
  • Great for couples, families, groups – and their pets!
Self-drive boating holiday France canals

What are self-drive boating holidays like?
Read our introduction,
view our video and
get the facts!


Couples self-drive hire boating France canals

Boats for Couples

Just for you two. Explore together.

Compact Size Boats

Families self-drive hire boating France canals

Boats for Families

For parents, children – and grandparents!

Mid Size Boats

Groups self-drive hire boating France canals

Boats for Groups

Up to 12 friends can share a fantastic holiday

Large Size Boats

You’ll Have a Marvellous Time!

Do you need previous experience or qualifications? No!, and you will be given whatever guidance you need before you set out – there are simple controls, rather like driving a car, and basic waterways ‘rules of the road’.
The boats are offered in immaculate condition, are well-equipped and well-maintained, and available to drive away on your cruise from hire-boat bases (ports) throughout France.

You can hire a boat from A to B or do a ‘there-and-back’ trip and you can even take your family dog. So choose your destination, find your own perfect style of boat and then book direct with our trusted boating holiday providers.

Luxury self-drive hire boating France canals

Luxury Self-Drive Boats

The best boats, from all the fleets
from £1,250 per week

5✮ Luxury Boats

First Class self-drive hire boating France canals

First Class Self-Drive Boats

High quality boats, from all the fleets
from £900 per week

4✮ First Class Boats

Economy self-drive hire boating France canals

Economy Self-Drive Boats

Great value boats, from all the fleets
from £550 per week

3✮+2✮ Economy Boats

Self-Drive Boats in All the Glorious Regions of France

France has an amazing 8,000 km (5,000 miles) of wonderful navigable rivers and canals. At an average leisurely speed of 5 kilometres an hour, plus the days spent exploring all the fascinating places along the way and in extended stays in port, that means there’s actually many years of happy wandering waiting for you to explore and enjoy!

The concentrated richness of scenery, history, culture, leisure and pleasure is such that even just a few weeks spent voyaging the canals and rivers of one small part of France is an experience you’ll never forget. Such a variety of places and scenes, such a variety of different waterways to explore and people to make friends with.

Alsace France canals boating holiday hotel barge cruise Strasbourg

Alsace ~ Strasbourg

Savour the unique Franco-German culture of North-East France


Burgundy Loire France canals boating holiday hotel barge cruise Nivernais


A network of wonderful waterways amidst fabulous scenery

N Burgundy ~ Loire

Burgundy France canals boating holiday Dijon

S.Burgundy ~ Dijon ~ Saone

The stunning Ouche Valley, the wide river Saone . . and wine!

S Burgundy ~ Saone

Brittany France canals boating Josselin

Brittany ~ Anjou

Unspoilt countryside, picturesque towns and craggy castles.

Brittany ~ Anjou

Aquitaine France canals boating hotel barge cruise Agen

Aquitaine ~ Charente

The special South-West, Bordeaux, gastronomy and grapes

Aquitaine ~ Charente

Canal du Midi France canals boating holiday

Midi ~ Languedoc

Unique. World renowned. World heritage. Justly famous.

Canal du Midi

Provence France canals boating cruise

Camargue ~ Mediterranean

Here comes the sun. Camargue and blue Mediterranean


The Boating Holiday Fleets

We’ve partnered with the best four self-drive fleets, large and small, offering a huge range of boats
of all styles, sizes and price-points, and available at bases to cruise the canals throughout France.

France Afloat barge self-drive boating holiday France canals

France Afloat

A smaller fleet with excellent boats above: the barge-style Euroclassic

France Afloat

Le Boat self-drive boating holiday France canals

Le Boat

The biggest fleet, with a wide range of sizes and styles of boat

Le Boat

Locaboat penichette self-drive boating holiday France canals


Distinctive boats (incl. Linssen) above the excellent Penichette


Nicols self-drive boating holiday France canals


A wide range, including above ‘Sedan’ walk-through aft deck types


Our Unique Expertise – France, Cruising the Waterways and Self-Drive Boating
We have explored the rivers and canals of France on our own boat since 2003, logging up over 10,000km along most waterways, in most regions, at all times of year.
Independent, impartial and enthusiastic, we have personally visited and know every fleet and many of their boats, published here.