Locaboat Holidays’ fleet provides consistent high quality across the board. Rental boats and Pénichettes®, as well as the Europa and Linssen models, are all extremely comfortable, easy to handle and are perfect for boating holidays on a self-drive boat, with no licence required.


Can I really rent a boat with no licence as easily as it sounds?

Under European law, it is legal to rent a boat without a licence on certain waterways. The water conditions in such areas are generally calm and pleasant. Locaboat’s self-drive boats range from 9 and 15 metres in length but have been designed to be easy to handle and manoeuvre.

Finally, rest assured that we won’t let you set off before we’re certain you’re fully prepared. We are authorised to train our customers to operate self-drive boats with no licence. At the start of your cruise, a technician will spend time explaining how your boat works and the necessary manoeuvresOnce you’re completely confident, you can set off on your boating holiday – you’re the skipper, after all.

How to pick the right boat?
Let us help you!

OUR RANGE of canal boats

You will know by now that after choosing one of our many destinations – perhaps France for its famous Canal du Midi cruise or Italy to visit Venice – you need to choose a self-drive boat to match your budget, group size and crew. You can find out all about our different boat types below; if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Pénichettes Classique®

The traditional Pénichette®, very easy to pilot and perfect for couples and families.

Brochure price

From € 1120

per week (before discounts)

Pénichettes Aft-Deck®

A spacious and well-lit boat, characterised by its lovely protected terrace at the rear.

Brochure price

From € 1890

per week (before discounts)

Pénichettes Evolution®

Based on the strengths of the existing family of Penichettes®, this new generation of boats offers a completely new cruising experience.

Brochure price

From € 1925

per week (before discounts)

Pénichettes Flying Bridge®

The latest range of Pénichettes®, offering considerable comfort thanks to their double internal and external helm positions.

Brochure price

From € 2205

per week (before discounts)


Cosy, elegant and designed as small yachts, the Europa boats offer decidedly modern comfort and aesthetics.

Brochure price

From € 2555

per week (before discounts)


Choose one of the finest yachts with the Linssen Grand Sturdy 34.9 boat! Elegance, high-quality furnishings and comfortable sailing are the hallmarks of these renowned boats.

Brochure price

From € 2555

per week (before discounts)

Where can I find the boats and Pénichettes® ?

For your next river cruise, you can choose among 330 Pénichettes® and licence-free boats available in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Ireland. In order to find the boat that suits you best, Locaboat recommends you to have a look at the list of boats available at its 24 departure bases.


Maximum comfort: our canal boats equipped with biminis

During the whole season, Locaboat provides you with all the necessary equipment to ensure your comfort and well-being. During the Summer season, you can make the most of the good weather on the deck of your boat while protecting yourself from the sun’s rays by choosing one of our Pénichettes® equipped with biminis.

penichette 1020 fb locaboat

Canal boat and Pénichette®: comfort and equipment?

Locaboat boats are as comfortable to live in as an apartment. You’ll find a kitchen (called a ‘galley’ in boating terminology) equipped with a fridge, hot plates, a worktop and usually an oven (all boats except the Linssen model). All necessary kitchenware and crockery can be found on board. We also provide sheets, duvets, bath towels and dishcloths. There’s almost nothing you have to bring yourself, but if you’re unsure take a look at the pre-departure checklist.

All our boats have a main room and one or more cabins. Except for the Pénichette Classique®, all our rental boats have an outside deck where a table can be placed for al-fresco dining.

Self-drive canal boats: what about children’s safety?

Safety is a primary concern for those with young children. Our boats are specially adapted and very safe, and problems are extremely rare on canals and lakes. For the most risk-averse parents, we recommend Pénichette® models rather than boats from the Europa or Linssen ranges because they come equipped with guard rails around the outside of the boat. Please also be aware that children tend to adapt more quickly than adults to conditions on board. For these reasons, ensuring child safety on a boat is no more difficult than on dry land.

Pénichette moored deep in the countryside in Brittany

Must-know rules & regulations Canal boat hire for travelling European waterways

Do you need a licence to drive European canal boats?

Before you set off on a holiday of a lifetime, boating across the many waterways of Europe, you may have a pang of fear about driving a boat. Although this task may seem like a daunting one, it can be far more accessible and, in turn, far more rewarding. In most European countries and on most European waterways, it is unnecessary to hold a boat’s license to drive a boat. Most of the canals and rivers you will be travelling down will be calm stretches of water and require little skill to manoeuvre or traverse. Locaboat’s boats range in length from nine to fifteen metres, yet they are simple to handle.

Although you may not need a boating license, you will need to learn how to control and drive the boat safely. To allow you to do this confidently, you and your fellow holidaymakers will be given a small moment of instruction by one of the Locaboat technicians. These instructional class will ensure you know how the boat works, what to look out for and how to perform important boating manoeuvres.

This short lesson and instructional time before you set out on canal boat holidays will ensure you have the confidence to travel by boat and enjoy your time on the water. Your instructor is also unlikely to abandon ship before you are confident in driving your canal barge. It is also advisable to instruct more than just one person in your holiday entourage – this means everyone will be capable of driving the boat in an emergency.


Make sure you can maneuver your canal boat rental

As already mentioned, you won’t need a professional boating license to boat across European waterways, but you do need to learn specific boating manoeuvers. These manoeuvres will not only ensure you and your fellow passengers are safe but also allow you to moor at different places along the many rivers and canals. This mooring manoeuvre is one of the most important and will guarantee safe stopping and stopping at will to any riverside or canalside port you wish. This manoeuver will be taught to you right before setting out on your barge boat trip, and you should not start before mastering it!

The actual process of manoeuvering and mooring your boat will all depend on the type of boat, the area you’re trying to moor at and the conditions of the river or canal. The first element you should consider is the speed at which you are travelling, ensuring it is appropriate for the surroundings. Next, make sure your mooring lines are free of tangle and knots, and they are also coiled and correctly stowed away. If there are multiple people on board the boat, then it is important to have them in position at either end of the boat. Preferably, they should be stood with one on the bow and another on the stern.


Choose the right boat hire to fit the environment

Before we move on to the intricacies of choosing the ideal boat for you and your holiday needs, it’s important to see what kind of boat fits this canal and river type of travel. As you are travelling along stretches of water that can be somewhat narrow, hiring a canal boat helps cut through the smaller stretches of the route. This type of boating is especially important when travelling through a series of locks on the Canal du Midi, for example, or winding sections of River Shannon cruises. These types of boats are both easy to drive and easy to manoeuvre, giving them far more credibility and reliability out on the water.

As you will also be using this boat as a home away from home, it is important to hire a narrowboat that has enough space to keep you in comfort throughout the journey. Alongside this relative comfort, you will also need a canal boat that has enough storage space to keep you going throughout your trip. A perfect balance of driveability, storage space, and comfort is exactly what you will get with a Locaboat canal barge rental. To understand these in a little more detail, it is important to break down particular boats and what they can offer when looking for a barge to rent.


Canal boat hire which is the right boat for me?

Will it be a Europe boat or The Linssen 349 GS

Europa boats are the perfect modern boat for smaller groups seeking to rent a barge. The contemporary design creates a modern look that still harks back to older boat designs. Equipped with all the mod-cons you could hope for, a shower and also a refrigerator, the Europa is the perfect small boat to accommodate four to six people. The Europa boat comes in three different models, each one with small changes to capacities and add-ons. This is a great choice if you want a boat that is both small, manoeuvrable and has a modern flair.

If a little more luxury is required from your boat, then opting for the Linssen 349 GS is a great option. These types of canal barge boats provide holidaymakers with high levels of comfort and elegance to their boating holiday. This boat provides two cabins, both of which have ensuite bathrooms, ensuring you are in comfort while travelling the European waterways. This model also allows you to drive from the comfort of a Bimini top shelter, keeping you sheltered from the sun.


What about a Pénichette®?

Arguably one of the most famous canal boats in the collection, Pénichette® boats have made a name for themselves throughout the world of canal and river boating. The classic model of Pénichette® boat are some of the easiest to handle and are extremely popular with new drivers especially.

Accommodating two to seven passengers, the Pénichette® Classique is a comfortable boat for the entire family, especially those in smaller groups. Equipped with a bed and galley, you will have all the comfort you could require. Although there is plenty of space for passengers to travel in comfort, the Pénichette® series sometimes lacks the overall storage space. This is fine if you are simply using the boat as a mode of travel and not as your constant home during the canal or river cruise.


Perhaps the Pénichette® Evolutions?

Keeping with the Pénichette® brand, we can now take a look at the much more advanced models such as the Pénichette® Evolution. This boat takes all the features you know and love and combines them with a few added modern extras. The Pénichette® Evolution has far greater capacity compared to its older models, meaning groups of up to six can comfortably call this boat home. Aside from the extra space, this boat also has extra features such as the ability to drive from both the upper deck and inside the boat itself. This gives holidaymakers far more control over the boat and means multiple people are able to pitch in with the driving.

More modern additions that are found in the Pénichette® Evolution include the bow and stern thrusters. This is enhanced even more by the easy manoeuvrability brought about by the smart joystick, ideal for both inexperienced and experienced boat drivers.


Let’s try out the Pénichette® Flying Bridge

This range of boats are relatively new to the collection and are considered some of the best on the Pénichette® range. Designed with a dual-helm system, the Pénichette® Flying Bridge allows those who are choosing this as their barge hire to access the helm from both the deck and the inside of the boat. Apart from these modern features, the sheer capacity of the boat is another of its most celebrated features, with some models having the ability to hold up to twelve passengers conformably. This is the ideal boat for those travelling with large groups of people or an extended family holiday. The bow and stern thrusters are also present on the Flying Bridge; again, this makes controlling this large boat a far easier undertaking than it may have been on older models.


Maybe the Pénichette® Aft Deck is the boat for you?

The final boat in the Pénichette® range is the Pénichette® Aft Deck; the perfect barge boat hire if you’re on holiday with big groups of people. Versions of the Aft Deck are capable of holding up to twelve guests and, with ease. The boat is made up of four cabins, both of which have their own ensuite bathrooms, ensuring fantastic comfort throughout your journey.

Each of the four cabins also has a double bed that can be expanded with an additional upper Pullman berth. There is also an added hand basin, wardrobe and set of hangers. A covered aft terrace deck makes relaxation out on the top of the boat a simple task and also allows you to enjoy the boating holiday with all of these added extras.

This is the giant of canal barge hire and will ensure you will travel the waterways in extreme comfort and luxury. Whether it is French canal holidays, boating through locks in Ireland or even the city-based canal trips of the Netherlands, the Pénichette® Aft Deck is more than up for any challenge.


Where can I rent a barge from?

Explore stunning waterways in the South of France

As the south of France is one of Europe’s most popular boating destinations, there are unsurprisingly numerous stops along its rivers and canals where you can hire this selection of Locaboat boats. As the Canal du Midi is one of the South of France’s most frequented waterways, you can start from a number of different spots. Where you start from in France and where you hire your canal boat from is a completely personal choice.

Taking Canal du Midi into consideration, there are three main places in which you can begin your boating holidays, and these three are also where you can hire your boat. Deciding which mooring site to start from is your own choice and will often depend on the route you plan to take. As the Canal du Midi runs from the Mediterranean sea to the city of Toulouse, you can start at either end and travel the entire route.

You can hire any of the boats listed above from the town of Négra, only half an hour’s drive south of Toulouse. Hiring your boat from here will allow you to travel the Canal du Midi route in its entirety. The second Locaboat location is halfway down the canal’s route at the town of Bram, fifty kilometres away from the town of Négra. Holidaymakers can start their canal journeys here and go in either direction, making it another popular place to rent barges and boats from. The final boat rental destination along the Canal du Midi is at Argens, closer to the Mediterranean side of the route. It is also possible to start the entire Canal du Midi journey from here and travel east to west.


Discover boat rental on the Emerald Isle

The Emerald Isle has quickly become a fantastic destination for canal holidays, and it is easy to see why. Locaboat have set up a number of different boating ports and canalside rental places, giving visitors to Ireland the chance to see many of its counties. Where you start can all depend on which of these countries you wish to visit. It can also depend on which waterway you want to travel down, be it the River Shannon, the Royal Canal or the Grand Canal.

If you are travelling down the River Shannon, there are two main locations in which you can rent a Locaboat boat. The River Shannon runs on a north-south route and depending on the direction you wish to travel, you can travel northwards, or you can travel southwards. Where you choose to start is a wholly unique choice and will often depend on where you are entering the country. Flying to its capital Dublin will mean you are in the middle of both starting points, and the choice is yours on which to choose.

There are two main places to rent boats along the Shannon River. The first of these is at the town of Carrick-on-Shannon in the northern county of County Leitrim. Hiring your boat from here will allow you to travel southwards through the county and onto the River Shannon’s many must-see sights. The second of these River Shannon boat rental spots are on the south section of the river, in the town of Banagher.


Renting a boat in the Low Countries

With a country whose water table is so low, most of the Netherlands is covered in numerous waterways, rivers and canals. This environment lends itself perfectly to boating holidays and Locaboat has set up a couple of boat renting sites. Both of these reside in the Holland area of the Netherlands and give holidaymakers the chance to travel through both the east and west sections of the Holland region.

If you are planning to travel throughout the western areas of the Holland region, then hiring your boat from the town of Alphen will be a huge help. The Locaboat headquarters here ensures you can travel all the way to The Hague in the south and even as far north as Amsterdam and beyond. Being in between these two major cities allows boaters to travel the length of the region with ease and even bring the boat back to where they started.

The second of these boat rental locations are located in the east of the region, in the town of Loosdrecht. The Loosdrecht canal base means you can travel northwards to Amsterdam within a few short miles and south to the town of Utrecht. Travelling this region can even be done in a complete loop, with the Loosdrecht canal base serving as both the starting and ending point. The increased connectivity of the canals in this region means you can travel distances in a very short amount of time, making hiring and returning boats a breeze.

How to pick the right boat?
Let us help you!

Start typing and press Enter to search