Self-drive boats, comfort and safety
Is it safe for our children?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe for children.
Locaboat boats are safe and equipped so that you won’t encounter any problems during your cruise. Pénichette® barges are especially suitable because of their wide side decks, protected by guardrails, and the huge sun decks, which are flat and stable. Also, life jackets are provided for children and these must be worn while on board.
Can I cruise without a licence?
European countries have agreed to allow the use of properly-equipped and certified hire boats cruising in tourist areas that are little used by commercial traffic. These boats also have speed-limited engines to ensure that customers won’t get into dangerous situations during their holiday.
Locaboat has of course been approved by the local authorities to rent out its self-drive boats in all the waterways regions on offer.
After an introductory course at our base, covering the theory and practice of handling your boat and the essential rules of cruising, you’ll be given a valid permit for the period of your holiday. Note that our teams ensure that every customer leaving the base has properly understood the essential rules of boating and safety required to enjoy their holiday with complete peace of mind.
Can I really cruise without any previous experience?
Yes, we assure you that no experience is necessary.
Once you’ve booked your boat with Locaboat, you’ll receive your captain’s handbook (also available online from our website). This book explains all the boating rules you need to know, all the services we offer and details of your departure base. You should read it carefully and take it with you on your cruise.
And don’t forget that our teams will provide you with training at the departure base. You will soon get the hang of handling your boat and the essential rules of cruising, then you’ll be given a valid permit for the period of your holiday. Note that our teams ensure that every customer leaving the base has properly understood the essential rules of boating and safety required to enjoy their holiday with complete peace of mind.
You might also like to know that we offer video tutorials on our YouTube channel, showing how to pass through a lock or the various ways of mooring a boat. These videos are optional but can reassure future skippers who are concerned about taking charge of their boat.
Are Locaboat boats and Pénichette® barges comfortable?
In general, length for length, our boats are more spacious than yachts used for sea cruising.
Our boats and Pénichette® barges have all the comforts you need for a holiday on the canals. They have one or more cabins with plenty of storage, hot water, heating (central or forced air) and bathroom areas (on boats, these are called the ‘heads’), where space is optimised and functional, as well as a large and comfortable lounge/ dining room (‘saloon’). The layout of our boats gives as much space as possible to the main living area, because that’s where you’ll spend most of your time on board. The kitchen (‘galley’) is fully equipped with an oven, fridge, sink and all the pots and utensils you need to cook in good conditions. Sheets, towels and tea towels are provided on board.
Each boat has a water tank and a diesel tank. If the water tank needs filling several times during your stay, you’ll find stopping-points along the route where you can take on more water. The diesel tank, however, will contain enough fuel for several weeks.
Does the boat have an electricity supply?
Yes, of course.
All our boats are fitted with batteries and an alternator. Electricity is generated by the alternator, so it’s advisable to cruise for at least four hours if you don’t want to plug into sockets on the quayside.
When you are plugged into quayside sockets, you can use the 220V supply to recharge your mobile phones or other devices. When you are cruising, the on-board voltage is 12V. Using an adaptor, available at the rental office, you can plug your devices into the lighter socket next to the internal helm.
Finally, when the engine is switched off, if you notice the lights dimming, it means the battery is running low and it’s time to either plug into the quayside supply or run the engine, as you would with your car. If the battery is completely flat, don’t panic, the engine circuit is separate from the equipment circuit, which means you’ll be able to restart the engine even if the battery seems to be flat.
Are there things for children to do?
Yes, holidays on Locaboat Pénichette® barges are suitable for children.
Travelling by boat is exciting for small children and brings the family together. It’s not unusual to see crews made up of several generations. Children and grandparents enjoy the natural surroundings while parents love the team spirit and the family atmosphere on board. Also, Pénichette® holidays are not restricted to life on the boat. Animals, villages, cycling, swimming, fishing, jogging, walking, reading, cooking, writing and board games are just a few of the activities you can enjoy as a family. These activities may seem simple, but they’re the kind of things we don’t take time to enjoy in our busy everyday lives. To sum up, a Pénichette® brings the whole family together around simple pleasures that everyone enjoys.
Are dogs allowed on board?
Yes, dogs are more than welcome on board our boats, as are any other pets.
Our Pénichettes® are especially suitable for dogs because of their large outside and inside areas and the guardrails that go all the way round the boats.
The Pénichette Terrasse® is the boat that customers travelling with a dog tend to like best. The outside area is covered and extends the length of the main living area, which means you can always keep an eye on your four-legged friend.
Lastly, France is an especially suitable holiday destination for dogs. Your pet will be welcome in most stopping-off places that you come across and towpaths are the ideal places for dogs to stretch their legs. In fact, it’s quite common for lock-keepers to have their own dogs with them.
Choosing your boat and destination
Which boat should I pick for my cruise?
We offer 6 boat ranges, including four types of Pénichette® barge. All our boats are well-equipped and offer a high level of comfort. However, each range has its own specific features that are listed here.
> The Pénichette Classique® for up to 7 people
The Pénichette Classique® is the premier model. This boat has optimised living space, plus an opening rooflight, and best of all a sun deck, perfect for watching the landscape passing by. It’s also ideal for beginners thanks to its easy handling, and it’s very reasonably priced.
> The Pénichette Aft-Deck® for up to 12 people
This Pénichette®, as its name suggests, has a large terrace deck that serves as an extension to the living area and 2 opening rooflights that illuminate the cabin As well as being very pleasant, it has the largest living area of all our boats. This boat is ideal for a large crew.
> The Pénichette Flying bridge® for up to 12 people
This Pénichette® has two helming positions. The outside helm is very pleasant in summer. Also, the crew can use the outdoor areas for meals or to keep the skipper company when cruising.
> The Pénichette Evolution® for up to 4 people
The brand-new Pénichette Evolution® is completely modular to make the best use of the space. The beds can be opened up and then stowed away to free up the large, bright and well-designed living area. This boat is especially suitable for a couple or for two pairs of friends.
> Europa boats for up to 6 people
Europa Boats are styled differently from the Pénichette® with a more nautical design. The Europa offers the same level of comfort as the Pénichettes® and would be the perfect choice for cruising the German lakes. As well as their double, inside and outside helming positions, these boats have a rear deck where you can enjoy swimming or catching a few delicious fresh fish.
> Linssen boats for up to 6 people
Linssen is still one of the most highly-recommended boats for pleasure cruising. With a sheltered outdoor helm, panoramic views, bow-thrusters and stern-thrusters as well as a top-of-the-range finish, it’s one of our most luxurious boats.
What’s the best time of year for a Pénichette® cruise?
Every season has its own attractions.
In spring, the flora and fauna are coming back to life. The natural world is beautiful, with its bright colours and wonderful scents. Lock keepers are happy to see the first leisure boats arrive.
In summer, the season is in full swing. The inland waterways are full of life and most of the villages and stopping places will be bustling. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the events and entertainments on offer in the cruising regions.
Autumn is also a very pleasant time. The colourful landscapes are enchanting. The low season can have a very pleasant climate, not as hot as the summer. And there are fewer boats on the water.
It’s worth noting that the canals and inland waterways are generally usable from March to October. All boats are heated so you can enjoy the canals even when the nights are a bit chilly.
How many kilometres can I cruise each day?
Cruising speed is limited to between 6 and 10 kilometres an hour. At this speed you’re not running any risk and you also have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. So the distance you’ll cover during your cruise will mainly depend on the number of cruising hours per day. Although you can do whatever you like, it’s worth noting that most customers cruise for four or five hours a day. This average speed allows you to enjoy the pleasures of cruising and see all the different landscapes and villages along the canal. Also note that the daily opening times of the locks vary from one region to another (on average, from 08:00 to 18:00), and night-time cruising is not allowed.
The routes we suggest at our departure bases give the average cruising time you need to see all the places mentioned and the number of locks you will pass through on your holiday.
How to decide on your cruise?
More than anything else, a holiday in a Pénichette® promises complete freedom. The cruises we offer on our website and anything else our teams might suggest are just a few of the many possibilities available. You can stop wherever you like on canals in France and at most pontoons (landing stages) that you come across in other countries.
So whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can enjoy holidays at your own pace. Some people like to cruise for several hours to travel as far as possible, regardless of the number of locks along the way, while others prefer to enjoy the chance to relax and appreciate the countryside. Both of these are possible.
If you’re not sure where to head for, we suggest that you first choose a region that’s most likely to offer what you want. Whether you prefer the countryside or big towns; beautiful scenery or historic heritage, or if you like sampling the local gastronomy, there are regions to suit every taste. When you’ve chosen the region that fits the bill, we suggest you take a look at the various circuits that can be cruised from our bases. If you can’t find one you like, don’t panic! You can complete our booking enquiry form and explain what you’re looking for, or contact our advisers, who will be delighted to help you find your dream cruise
Can I book a one-way cruise?
While most of our cruises require you to return the boat to the departure base, we also offer one-way cruises in some areas.
One-way cruises are only available for a minimum of one week. The definite advantage of a one-way cruise is that you can go from A to B without passing through the same place twice. We should explain that on one-way cruises you have to stick fairly closely to the cruise itinerary. You must make sure you arrive on time at the right destination, so that the next customers can have their boat!
We ask for an additional charge of 130 euros for these cruises – and please note that this doesn’t include transporting your car or your transfer back on arrival. You will be able to return to your starting point by train or taxi. We also provide a service where we deliver your car to your arrival point or transfer you back to the departure base. You will find all these services and their prices on Pénichette.com.
Explanation of prices and booking
What extra services can I opt for?
We offer a range of services designed to make life easier for you. Please note that these services are entirely optional and you can find information and prices at www.penichette.com together with forms you can use to book them.
> All inclusive pack
Our “All inclusive pack” is available from each of our departure bases. This package includes:
- damage waiver, which means you don’t have to pay any deposit on departure
- fuel required for cruising and heating
- cleaning at the end of your holiday
- one bike*
By choosing this package, you will save 10% on the prices charged for these services individually.
> Taxi transfer from stations or airports to departure base and return
If you would like help getting to your departure base (and getting back), we can book you a taxi to or from the nearest station or airport.
> For a one-way cruise
If you’re taking a one-way cruise, we can organise your return transport to the departure base, or if you prefer we can deliver your car to your arrival base.
Most of our bases have car parks that you can pay to use for the duration of your holiday. Please note that not all bases have secure car parks. We suggest that you check with the skipper’s handbook or the Pénichette.com website for information.
> Cycle hire
You can hire bikes for the duration of your holiday. Prices for bikes depend on the length of the holiday. Please note that the number of bikes available is limited, so we suggest you book them as early as possible.
> Cleaning at the end of your holiday
You can sign up for the cleaning package which will exempt you from cleaning your boat at the end of your cruise.
> Dinghy hire
In Ireland and Italy, you have the option to hire a dinghy. These are especially useful if you want to go fishing and get to those hidden corners that can’t be reached in a larger boat.
> Hire of Wi-Fi router
At most French bases and at the Chioggia departure base in Italy, you can rent a Wi-Fi router so you can stay connected throughout your journey.
> Equipment for children
Life jackets are, of course, supplied with your boat. However, we can offer other services to reassure parents such as bike helmets or armbands for swimming. Don’t forget to order them in advance.
> Shopping delivered on board
As it’s not always easy to transport all your shopping to the departure base, and because you’ll want to concentrate on getting to know your boat on your departure day, we can do your shopping for you and deliver it to your boat so that everything you need is there when you arrive.
What expenditure should I expect during my holiday?
These are the costs you will have to pay with an estimate of the amounts
> Advance payment for fuel
At the start of your cruise, you will have to make an advance payment for fuel. The amount depends on the duration of your holiday and the type of boat. You should allow €20 to €35 per day, which will then be deducted from the charge for your actual fuel consumption.
> Deposit or damage waiver
The boats and their equipment are insured for all accidental damage (e.g. collision with another boat or with waterway structures, etc.) or damage caused to third parties as a result of using the boat. However, the captain is financially responsible up to the value of the deposit.
But you can opt to use what is known as a “damage waiver”, where you pay a certain amount to remove your liability to pay the deposit. In this case, you will also be exempt from liability to pay for the actual damage.
You will be asked to pay a fixed fee per animal for the duration of your holiday if you want to take your pet on board with you.
If you haven’t signed up for our inclusive cleaning service, we ask you to return the boat to us in the same state that you found it. Failing this, we will have to bill you for the cleaning expenses involved.
> Waterways guide
The waterways guide costs 20 to 50 euros, depending on your destination. It contains all the information you need about the waterways and stopping places on your route.
> For a one-way cruise
Make sure you work out your arrangements before you begin your cruise. Remember that delivering your vehicle or transferring you back to the departure base is not included in the price of the cruise.
> Locks and ports
Locks are usually free, except in Ireland. A lock-keeper will ask you for a few euros, while a port will usually ask for 5 to 20 euros to spend the night and use the facilities (water, electricity, etc.).
When can I book?
You can book at any time, throughout the year.
Booking early means having the biggest possible choice from our range of holidays, as well as getting our early-booking discounts. By booking early you’re more likely to find the boat you want for the dates that suit you.
On the other hand, if you book at the last minute you can take advantage of our last-minute offers (up to 50% off). If you can be flexible about your dates and choice of destination, this allows you to get the best possible prices on our boats.
What are the payment terms?
Once your booking is confirmed, we ask you to pay 40% of the total cost of the holiday to reserve the boat. The balance must be paid 6 weeks prior to your departure.
Please note that if your holiday is due to start less than 6 weeks after your booking, you will be asked to pay the whole cost of the holiday.
Our website accepts the following payment methods: Carte Bleue, Visa, Mastercard, SEPA and bank transfers. If you need help with the payment process you can contact one of our advisers.
How do I book with Locaboat?
> If you’ve found the region of your dreams and a boat that suits you…
Go to our booking site to explore all the options for cruises and our real-time prices. On this site you can take advantage of our latest offers and make a reservation or hold a cruise for free in a few clicks.
In fact, we allow our customers to hold the boat of their dream so that they have 2 to 6 days to organise themselves and their crew. This service is entirely free.
> If you’ve found the region you like but need advice about the itinerary or the boat…
You can fill in our quotation form, giving us all the details you can about your planned cruise, or you can contact our advisers directly by phone, Skype or e-mail. Note that you can also ask for a call back if this suits you better.
Preparing for your cruise
What will I find on the boat?
Sheets, towels and tea towels are provided, of course. The boat and its kitchen are fully equipped with an oven, sink and fridge. Boats have hot water and heating.
For crockery and kitchen utensils, see the complete inventory, provided here as a pdf.
Please note that there is a first aid kit on each boat but you are advised to take your personal medication with you. You may actually be cruising in areas where it is sometimes difficult to find a doctor or a pharmacy.
What household products should I take with me on the boat?
Here are some suggestions for products and purchases you shouldn’t forget. Locaboat provides a “starter kit” (bin bag, sponge, toilet-paper, etc.), but you should take enough household products with you to last the length of your holiday, especially food items and toiletries.
What clothes should I take aboard?
Remember to take a pair of comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles for walking on deck and around the boat without slipping. Whatever the time of year, a waterproof jacket is a good idea in case of any sudden downpours. Lastly, it’s a good idea to take a warm jumper or fleece, whatever the season.
Is it easy to get through a lock and to moor?
Our customers are often apprehensive about locks and mooring. It’s worth noting that there’s a whole section devoted to this in our captain’s handbook and there are also step-by-step videos showing exactly what happens.
Locks may be automatic or manual, and very often a lock-keeper will be there to give you a hand. So there’s no need to worry about them.
You can find a section devoted to locks in our captain’s handbook as well as a video on our YouTube channel.
Mooring is an important manoeuvre while aboard your self-drive boat. In France, you can moor anywhere in the countryside, while in other countries you will be asked to tie up at a pontoon provided for the purpose.
Either way, our staff will train you, and after you’ve moored once or twice you’ll realise it’s child’s play. Also, try to think of it like parallel parking in a car; if you don’t get it right on the first try you’ve got plenty of time to have another go.
You can find a section devoted to mooring in our captain’s handbook as well as a video on our YouTube channel.
How should I prepare for taking charge of the boat?
Again, we can confirm that no previous experience is needed for handling our boats.
However, we understand that you might want to know a bit more about cruising. As we mentioned earlier in these FAQs, you can read your captain’s handbook or look at our YouTube channel. In any case, our staff will train you on the spot and answer all your questions. There’s no need to worry about it!
What should I do to get ready for my holiday?
Before booking, you may have already fallen for a route that was offered (see question: How should you choose your cruise). If so, you already know the places you want to visit.
On the other hand, if you’re still not sure about the route you want to take, you can:
- Contact our customer services team, who will be delighted to suggest a route that suits you.
- Order the waterways guide when you book or afterwards, which will tell you about the points of interest and the facilities at stopping places.
- Consult regional guide books, bearing in mind that you’ll be travelling on a canal. This means it may not always be easy to get to towns or villages that are more than 2 or 3 kilometres from the canal (in which case you will need to have bikes or book taxis).
Finally, for those with an adventurous streak, remember you can choose the stopping points on your cruise as you go along. Some of our customers love improvising like this and the feeling of freedom it gives them.