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penguin

Le Boat / Canal Du Midi

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I'm thinking about hiring a boat and cruising down the Canal Du Midi (Narbonne to Carcassonne).

 

I was wondering if anyone has done the trip (or has used Le Boat) and had any tips or recommendations on what to see in the area. It certainly feels likely that someone on here will have!

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Yes & Yes...

I've used Le Boat on 5 occasions in the last couple of years in UK, Belgium and France -  including a stag do (mine!) on the Canal Du Midi which was great.  Le Boat itself is a brand name for a number of different boating companies across Europe, so don't be surprised if you see different names on your card statement.

Generally, they've been fine although on a recent 2 boat hire in the UK both were faulty and we had to make a call out for one, though, to be fair they were with us in an hour and were subsequently most apologetic. They'll give you a thorough handover of the boat (or likewise if you've been before they're happy to give a cut-down version). 

I'd personally make a point of taking out the insurance, though wouldn't bother with the cleaning fee if you're happy to give things a surface clean at the end as they'll do the rest anyway. If the boat doesn't come with one fitted then hire a BBQ which makes cooking much easier and quicker. Booking the parking with your reservation is also normally cheaper than paying at the base. Basic maps etc are provided, but it's worth researching the area and which route you want to do before you go.

We were slightly further south on the Canal Du Midi (Port Cassifieres > Sete via the Etang du Thau) but in general, it's an easy and pleasant navigation. The locks are manned which limits the hours you can go through them, with the lock keeper generally taking a lunch break.

Channel 5's "Celebrities go barging" features Le Boat ships and one hire on the Canal du Midi. Not the best documentary ever, but it'll give you an idea. https://www.my5.tv/celebrity-5-go-barging/season-1/episode-1-2-2-3

Which boat were you thinking of going for? Depending on size, if it's a larger one I would certainly look to get one with bow thrusters.

 

(A few snaps from assorted breaks below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We've used Le Boat in Germany, Wolfsbruch-Plau on their "Clipper" which is based on the Aquafibre/Broom hull and France on their "Calypso"  based on the Bounty hulls which were built in Brundall, cruising  from the Camargue to Narbonne. Everywhere is stunning along the route. You'll not want to leave Béziers and the lock descent at Fonsérannes is amazing.

Le Boat are very similar in set up to those found in the UK, the only difference being the large security deposit.

We sold up on the Broads in 2015 as it became far too expensive justifying the cost for the amount of use but we still hire every year (just returned this weekend). 

Le Boat are one of many who have pulled out of Norfolk over the last five years. Their new hull supplier for their premier "Vision" class is Len Funnell based in Horning with the "Horizon" class designed by Haines so you can be sure of the quality.

Go for it, you won't be disappointed.

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10 hours ago, jonno said:

Their new hull supplier for their premier "Vision" class is Len Funnell

 

I've heard that the Visions do have a habit of overheating/cutting out. Though, that said, they are beautiful boats. Haven't yet managed to get a Horizon, but it's on the list.

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Tend to agree that pretty well everywhere en route is stunning! I've never hired a boat, but the Canal du Midi is certainly on our endless list of wannados.

Think I'd start at the Etang de Thau, if that's possible. I suspect the base may be at Marseillan or Sète, but I'd definitely have a look at Mèze - our favourite resort down there. (No pretensions, unlike the Riviera). If you can be in any of these seaside resorts when they have their "joutes" (jousting on board rowing boats) it's great fun. Some amateur video here.

Look out, too, for the local sport of Tambourin, played with a tambourine-like racquet and a ball sized roughly like a tennis ball.

Not so keen on Béziers itself, but that flight of locks is amazing.

If you go to Castelnaudary, you have to try the cassoulet dish!

All sorts of useful sites to refer to, but here's one.

I have a question of my own ... You need a licence to pilot boats over a certain power (6HP). Do the boats available for holidaymakers come below that limit?

In 2005 Rick Stein took a péniche from Bordeaux to Sète, and there's a BBC TV series on it ("French Odyssey"), available on Amazon and no doubt elsewhere.. A résumé (with links) of the places he stopped at to eat and/or cook is on his website at https://www.rickstein.com/about/rick-stein/ricks-tv-travels/french-odyssey/.

Finally, the history of the Canal du Midi and it's architect, Pierre Paul Ricquet, is pretty fascinating.

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1 hour ago, Jardinier said:

I have a question of my own ... You need a licence to pilot boats over a certain power (6HP). Do the boats available for holidaymakers come below that limit?

 

On the canals, at least, it's related to the length of the vessel. I believe anything over 13m needs a license. Nicols boats will rent you a single person 'pool' to tow behind your boat, but won't let you if it takes the overall length above 13m.

Everywhere has quirks - in Belgium it's a legal requirement for boats over 7m to carry a VHF radio, so Le Boat give you one... but make you sign a waiver to promise not to use it if you don't have a license.

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1 hour ago, Jardinier said:

I have a question of my own ... You need a licence to pilot boats over a certain power (6HP). Do the boats available for holidaymakers come below that limit?

On some of the German waterways you need a licence regardless of length or power, the yard usually sorts this. Here in the UK most of the inland waterway hire craft are fitted with 50hp Nanni Marine diesels plus there's a length limit on the Norfolk cruisers of 13.4m. The owners aren't licensed although the craft must be registered for the specific inland waterways you intend using. 

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2 hours ago, Jim said:

I've heard that the Visions do have a habit of overheating/cutting out. Though, that said, they are beautiful boats. Haven't yet managed to get a Horizon, but it's on the list.

Interesting, I wonder what engines Le Boat have specified? The Nanni's in Lens Broads hire boats are bomb proof.

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That's all really helpful! Thank's everyone.

I'm currently looking at the smallest Horizon boat, as it will just be the two of us, but we are aiming for a little luxury if we can manage it. 

 

I've already ordered the information pack, the Le Boat guide to the canal is extensive, which is a great start. I've also equipped myself with a copy of "The Canal Du Midi: A Cruiser's Guide" - which is a lovely little book describing the canal and sights along the way, and nice to have an independent perspective.

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3 hours ago, jonno said:

Interesting, I wonder what engines Le Boat have specified? The Nanni's in Lens Broads hire boats are bomb proof.

Thought it was a Nanni in them too - but there's a lot of technology in them. I know we had an issue 'transferring' steering from the joystick to the wheel that ended up losing both, thankfully in the Etang du Thau we had enough space to float whilst we turned it off and back on again. Mind you, that was nothing compared to when the only professional mariner onboard nearly ran us aground... 

1 hour ago, penguin said:

I'm currently looking at the smallest Horizon boat, as it will just be the two of us, but we are aiming for a little luxury if we can manage it. 

 

The Horizons are all the same size, it's just the cabin configuration which differs between them. Same with the Visions which all have the same lounge then different cabin configuration of either 4x Twin (Vision 4), 3x Twin with fold down bunk (Vision 3) or 2x Twin with one having its own lounge on the Vision 2. The Vision SL models gain a staircase from the lounge to the top deck rather than having to walk to the stairs at the stern.

You'll have a great time :)

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17 hours ago, Jim said:

I know we had an issue 'transferring' steering from the joystick to the wheel that ended up losing both

I've always felt that the idea of "easydock"  and a stern thruster as a bit of overkill on a hire boat.

The bow thruster makes a big difference especially guiding a 44ft flying bridge job into a tight stern on mooring. The pressure pad variant tend to break far easier than the joystick type.

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10 hours ago, jonno said:

I've always felt that the idea of "easydock"  and a stern thruster as a bit of overkill on a hire boat.

The bow thruster makes a big difference especially guiding a 44ft flying bridge job into a tight stern on mooring. The pressure pad variant tend to break far easier than the joystick type.

3

It is a little bit overkill - but at the same time probably quite helpful to novice hands for tight spaces and not using other vessels as fenders. We found it more fun for nautical doughnuts. 

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