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Canal Boating in the Loire Valley

30 May 2022

A fun holiday we took our young children on, was when we hired a canal boat and touring one of France’s many scenic canals.  We booked with Le Boat and picked up our huge 43 foot boat in Decize then cruised for 7 days one way before returning our boat to Chatillion-sur-Loire.  We travelled in September which is the end of the tourist season, but a lovely time to travel with settled weather and less tourists.

Neither of us are boaties, but we picked up the driving very quickly.  The boats go slowly, so there is plenty of time to react when steering.  It takes the first day to get used to the driving and manouvre the initial mooring, which is nerve wracking.  Once that is overcome the rest of the holiday is plain sailing.

The first day on the boat it rained, so we travelled only two hours and moored at Fleury-sur-Loire.  This is a small mooring with power and water.  There is a camping tent style café for drinks and dinner in the evening, or like us you can cook on board.

Our second day the sun was out so we stopped at Plagny for a cycle around the small village and a stock up on a few supermarket essentials.  That night we moored at Le Guetin after passing through the dramatic Pont-canal which spans the Loire River and changes about 10 metres in height over 2 locks.  It was our eldest daughter Grace’s 11th birthday so we celebrated at a cute local restaurant.

We were sleeping well on the boat so woke fresh on day 3, another beautiful day, and rode our bikes about 12 kilometres round trip to a beautiful medieval village called Appremont.  This is such a picturesque village and an easy flat bike ride to reach from the canal.  The village is located on the edge of the Loire river. 

We continued along the peaceful canal enjoying the sparse countryside and stopped that night at Beffes.  This has a new canal mooring area with power and water.  There is a highly recommended canal-side restaurant, A la Crozet des Chemins, worth visiting that was unfortunately fully booked the night we stayed.

Day 4 we woke to fog, but continued along the canal to moor and then cycle the 10 minutes to the small town La-Charite-sur-Loire.  Again lovely views of the Loire and another historic village that is worth a wander through.  It is interesting to see the various churches which are always the centre of these small towns.

Tonight we moored at St Thibult which is in the valley under the beautiful town Sancerre.  We had a delicious dinner at a local fine-dining restaurant.

The next day we rode (and walked some) up the hill to visit Sancerre.  This is the centre of this wine-making region.  There are organised wine tours in the area if you wish to venture further than the area adjacent to the canal.  We enjoyed wandering through the town and climbed up the Fief’s Tower for a spectacular view over the entire region.

We continued our cruise up the canal that afternoon to Bellville-sur-Loire.  A sleepy village with a scattering of eateries along the canal. 

Day 6 we set off for Briare and travelled across the magnificent Le Pont Canal which was engineered in part by the famous Mr Gustave Eiffel.  Completed in 1894, this is the longest canal bridge in Europe with a length of 662 metres.

Briare is a decent sized town and well worth mooring for at least a night.  It is the meeting point of two main French canals, the Loire and the Braire.  There are lovely bike rides and walks around the two picturesque canals and plenty of restaurants to choose from.

We finished our cruise on day 7 in Chatillion-Sur-Loire, another small picturesque village on a hill. 

To summarise our week, our canal cruise was a perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation with some beautiful French countryside to enjoy along the way.

 

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