Our beginners guide to boating holidays

No previous experience or licence needed!

Every year, France’s best loved self-drive boating holiday operator Nicols sends hundreds of travellers who haven’t previously set foot on a boat to explore the beautiful network of French canals and rivers. We explain below why a boating break is a great holiday idea – even if you’ve never tried it before…

One of the great things about a boating holiday is that while cruising the waterways your view is ever-changing as you pass towns, villages and ever changing countryside. France is excellent for this as its extensive network of canals and rivers run throughout the country’s many diverse regions – Nicols operates from 20 different bases in popular locations such as Burgundy, Alsace, Franche Comte, the Loire Valley and the renowned Canal du Midi and Camargue.

Don’t worry if you’ve never been on a boat before. No licence is needed – in fact not even any previous boating experience is required! Nicols will provide everything you need to know before you set off and you’ll be taken out on the water and given a hands-on demonstration of everything – from how to go through locks to tying up at the water’s edge.

Once you’ve been shown around your boat and left the base for the start of your holiday navigating is easy. All Nicols boats are easy to operate with either just one inside steering position or a second rooftop position to navigate under the sun with a panoramic view. You will discover simple controls that are easy to use: the wheel, a gear lever and a few instruments on the dashboard.

One of the biggest advantages of a boating holiday is the complete flexibility it offers. From the moment you leave your departure base – you control your holiday itinerary going where you want when you want and stopping wherever takes your fancy. You can moor in the countryside by the river bank or, if you prefer the hustle and bustle of the towns and villages you pass on route, you can take advantage of the purpose-built ports and mooring sites.

The modern day hire boat provides extremely spacious and comfortable accommodation – on par with other types of quality holiday accommodation. Nicols’ fleet of over 500 boats is one of the largest and most stylish inland waterways fleets in the world.

Although there is a range of different sized boats what they all have in common is a vast living room with a 360° panoramic view and spacious cabins – some even with en suite shower rooms. The kitchen is fully equipped including a fridge with a freezer compartment, ring-hob, oven/grill and plenty of worktop areas. All kitchenware (crockery, cutlery, utensils etc) is supplied as well as the bedding (sheets, duvets, pillows). The boats terraces are equipped with garden furniture and either sun awning or parasol depending on the model. 

A boating holiday offers the perfect mix of relaxed and tranquil travel with more energetic activities such as cycling, swimming, fishing and walking. Half of the fun is in driving the boat, mooring up and passing through locks with the entire crew getting involved, be it steering the boat, holding the mooring ropes or operating the lock gates.

A boating holiday isn’t just all about the many different activities you can enjoy. Put your feet up and relax in the comfort of your boat – either in the spacious rooms or out on the sun decks and terraces. Moor up and enjoy a lazy lunch in the shade with nothing but the noise of birdsong and gently lapping water.

Nicols offers boats to suit all budgets and party sizes from two to twelve people and flexible durations mean that itineraries are available for short-breaks, one-week holidays or longer stays.  

For more information visit, call 02392 401320 or email [email protected].

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