Handy tools: map of France’s navigable waterways

What documents should you bring on board and what preparations should you make, before and during your canal boat trip?

If this is your first voyage, don’t worry: driving a boat isn’t a black art. However, you should be properly prepared for your holiday to make sure you get off to a hassle-free start. You’ll be given a route plan, a cruising guide and an accurate map of the canals before you leave the Locaboat base. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to ‘do your homework’ before you set off on your holiday. Besides, as we all know, looking forward to something and making plans is half the fun…

Travel guides covering the regions you’ll be visiting will help you to find in advance the towns, villages, museums and points of interest you don’t want to miss. You could also get a copy of the Guide du plaisancier (recreational boaters’ handbook), from the ‘Voies Navigables de France’ organisation. But the best tool these days is the IGN geoportal (France’s National Geographic Institute), which you can consult online. This is a very sophisticated portal where you can zoom in close to see your route and visualise your journey as if you were already there.

Cruising guides sometimes only show a segment of the river, but the view you have here shows the full picture, and is also accurate down to the tiniest detail. Another thing worth knowing is that some publishers (‘Le Petit Futé’ in particular) offer guidebooks for canal boat holidays. Welcome aboard!

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