Rental in Central France
luxurious than holiday cruising
on a canal barge, but for some a self-drive boat can be a lot more fun.
the Loire River
itself is free of dams and locks, its waters rise
and fall with the seasons — raging at times and dwindling to
a mere brook at others. If a boat’s draft is shallow enough,
however, it can go places where the long barges cannot. We
did see some fairly small houseboats on the Loire as far
upriver as Nevers,
although they would not be going past that city since there is a low
dam and spillway adjacent to the bridge.
sandbars at that
point in the river would call for far more experience than would a
leisurely cruise on the Canal Latéral à la Loire.
The sandbars bring up a point which
often is unmentioned. Unlike
many rivers of the world which have muddy banks or perhaps rocks and
gravel, the Loire has some very inviting sandy beaches. Much like those
Lower Rhine between Kleve
and Nijmegen, they make
for riverside picnicking and sunbathing that rivals a trip to the sea.
advantage of a self-drive cruise is that
you have the benefit of being in control of your itinerary. Of course,
this control also implies that you have the responsibility for
— both nautically and monetarily — the locks
Shown here are
private vessels crossing the Allier River at Le
Guétin, between Apremont-sur-Allier
This crossing over the Loire follows a route south toward
Decize, where the Canal Latéral à the Loire joins with the Canal du
Nivernais, providing a route north to
beyond to Paris and Normandy via the Yonne and Seine rivers.
The self-drive boat
captain may find it helpful to
learn a little French boating terminology, but a special
license to pilot the boat is not required. Self-drive boats
available from various companies which have berths to accommodate from
two to 12
people, fully equipped with head, shower and galley.