Sophie Pasquet has three teenage children. For their family barge holidays, she and her husband have been faithful customers of Locaboat for nearly 15 years.
When we first started going on canal boat holidays with Locaboat, our youngest was just two years old. I mention that because people often think it's dangerous to take small children on a boating holiday, but really you just have to be careful when you're passing through locks. We started with holidays abroad: Venice was our first choice, then Ireland, the Netherlands and finally France, on the Canal du Midi – that's still one of my best memories.
What we really like about this kind of holiday is the freedom. You can decide to stop wherever you like, right out in the countryside. It's a bit like wild camping – but with the added bonus of comfort! Because we're travelling with teenagers these days, we have to make allowances and stop more often in places that are not so far off the beaten track, places where they can recharge their phones and other bits of electronic kit. However, we do also warn them that they can't expect to be connected all the time. It's good for us to get away from it all, even if the younger generation still insist on staring at their screens.
Another good thing about Pénichettes©, is that they are spacious. The children have their own bedrooms, so we can all enjoy living together without getting in each other's way. Some of us can sit and read on deck while others can go off for a bike ride when we stop for a while. And the kids love to get involved when it comes to going through the locks and steering the boat – at least mine do! Oh, and finally, there's no need to worry about choosing routes that are a bit more demanding just because you have teenagers on board – it keeps them busy and they love it!
Next time, we'll be heading to eastern France, exploring a region that's new to us and, we hope, experiencing new technical challenges. One more thing: I'd recommend that you check in advance whether the regional tourist offices have any activities planned: that's a good way to make sure that our lovely teenagers are fully occupied and having a good time!