Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull
It's not the forum's hottest topic, but a couple of people have mentioned it so I'm throwing the question out for comments. After the planned sailing this summer, we're looking at a canal boat (rental) in Alsace in the fall. Exact location is the first thing we need to determine - we're thinking we'd rather be close to the Vosges mountains than the Rhine plain, but on the other hand don't want to spend all of our time in locks.
Aside from any thoughts on that subject, there are a few other questions on my mind:
If you have experience renting
, are there specific companies or bases that you would recommend (or not)?
What should we think about in the planning and budgeting? Any surprises to watch out for?
Is there anything to know about handling these boats? They're supposed to be idiot-proof: in France
they'll apparently rent them to anyone, with no qualifications required. Are there any surprises waiting to happen?
And any other thoughts from anyone who has done it before ...
(We know Alsace well - just not by boat - and speak French, so we have those aspects covered.)
We did this trip in 2012 with Le Boat. If you want you can read my blog posts covering it although its a bit more for the family
and not so informative at times. (http://macblaze.ca/?cat=28
The boats are idiot proof. Of course the idiots challenge that a bit so watch out for them. The bigger fear is you being the idiot and banging into (or just get close to) one of the privately owned cruisers. They aren't covered in rubber front to back like the hire boats and the owners will cast a baleful eye your way if you threaten their paint
If you want to stray into the German river system you will need some sort of license/certification. We faxed a copy of our PCOC and they said they would accept that but in the end we stayed in the French canals. Personally I enjoy locks, although we've always had three aboard so they aren't much of a challenge.
We've done all our chartering with Le Boat. No complaints in the three trips we've done although we did have a bicycle break down on us on the Alscace trip. It took them a day to drive out a replacement. Out trip was an out and back from Hesse to Strasborg and back. It gives you some Alscase, some Lorraine, a tunnel and a fantastic trip down the lift
at Arzviller. I will say the countryside outside Strasbourg was a bit on the boring side compared to other trips we've done.
Rent bikes (mountain bikes). Check where the bases are and where the nearest grocery is. There might be some cab rides involved. Also check the nearest train stations. Two out of our three trips have been one way and there is a premium for that. Worth it in my books
. Go a minimum of 11 days on a 7 day route
; otherwise it's just too damn rushed.
And if you are going for the wine, Alscase isn't your best choice and don't be tempted to try the reds. Trust me.
Nicols has some nice looking boats and there was a company renting steel
boats out of Niderviller I think which had gorgeous ones.
Just be careful; there is a liberal sprinkling of German in their French that kept throwing me for a loop.
Oh, and plan to spend a few days further north in Trier on you way home. Amazing history
Let me know if you have any other questions. I love the canals; it is a fantastic way to see the country and buying
a boat there is not out the question for us yet.