Le Boat is a self drive sort of holiday AND no license is required! One of the best slow travel that I’ve tried. I mean, at around 10km per hour, you can’t get much slower than that; we were literately out ran by people and cyclists. In any case, the journey of barging the boat, parking and rope throwing was pure fun.
We were a boat of 3 girls. I am 1.57m, 43kg. I mention this because I want to explain that there is nothing so heavy duty that petite girl like myself cannot handle on this entire trip.
Boat tour: Mystique (comfort plus)
3 ensuite rooms – sleep 6 easily and there’re 2 more sleeping spots in the lounge
Air condition in the bedrooms were effective, even in the blazing heat (we had 40 degrees Celcius weather). Take it that way, it was so effective that I could have worn long sleeves.
HOWEVER, the air conditioning in the lounge was very weak!!! We had to place curtains to block out the sun in order for the temperature to be bearable. Who was the person that place a singular vent (20cm diameter) for the entire lounge?!?!? That vent was under the driving seat as well. Weirdest position ever!
Each room had 2 bath towels and 2 hand towels. Rough cotton, mid-weight and surprisingly fast drying. For me, there’s really no need to bring your own towel unless you have superbly sensitive skin.
**Boat tour is included in my youtube video starting at around 0:30
Considerations when you choose your boat
Thrusters (I called them propellers because I had no clue)
If it is your first time, like me, I highly recommend that you choose a boat with thruster (propeller button). Parking is hellishly more difficult than parking a manual car. Just imagine this, the steering wheel doesn’t actually move the boat in perfect direction like a car, so you are left with half guessing sort of situation when doing your parallel parking; except suddenly whatever you’re driving is wider than a truck.
Air conditioning vs Air cooling
On LeBoat’s website, there have a strange thing call Air Cooling. This is NOT the same as air conditioning. You cannot switch on the Air Cooling system when your boat is moving. If you’re traveling in high summer like us, be prepared to be fried.
Like I’ve mentioned before, based on the silly air condition design, I am inclined to think that Air Cooling is likely to be a waste of money. So for me, for my next trip, I’ll be a lot less likely to choose a boat with Air Condition or Air Cooling. I mean, why pay extra for something that doesn’t work effectively?
**I have a strong opinion about this because it was no joke to have a stupid air conditioner in the 40 degrees Celcius heat.
I am currently in a massive debate at home whether to take Horizon 1 (premium line) vs Cirrus (budget line) for my next trip. There’s a huge price difference and frankly, I think for a premium line boat to have Air Cooling is completely stupid. At the same time, the Cirrus has no thrusters >_< it is way too hard to make a decision.
Bimini Sun Shade vs Sun umbrella
**Bimini is the foldable roof at the top of the boat. I did not know this word before boarding LOL
This maybe unique to the path that we choose, but on this route, there were lots of low hanging bridges. So basically, every 15 minutes or so, we needed to collapse the bimini. That thing was NOT light and we needed 2 people to set it up. In hindsight, a sun umbrella may have been a better choice. Well, maybe that’s heavy as well, but at least it looks like it can be open or closed by one person.
Although no coal fire was allowed, it is a pretty fun thing to have. Well, I am probably bias because I am a South African. Consider it like this though, when you’re in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful nature or quiet French town, you and your boat mates can chill on the deck. Cleaning is difficult, BUT this is slow travel. How often can I do barbeque living in the city?
Okay, there were too many beautiful sights, so I’ll just share the highlights in still photography.
It was sooooo cute. It just chilled out in the water, swimming on its back. How cuddly was that? Anyways, these guys were fearless and would swim right up to the boat. Sadly, this one choose to swim to our neighbour instead 🙁
Swans and babies
No words needed. They came right up to our boat!
Where do I begin? It was every stretch of the journey. I was so ready to retire LOL
Auxerre – Medieval Town
Auxerre is the 4th largest town in Burgundy. It was all sort of pretty. The abbey in this town was from the 5th century. Looking for something a bit more modern? The clock tower was from 15th century. Still too old? Well, Auxerre is famous for gastronomy, biodiversity (there is a museum) and art (woodcarving exhibition).
We literately had help at every stop… because we sucked really bad at parking. Our neighbours all jumped to help us to tie down our boat or direct us how to navigate the boat etc. We so would not have made it without the sweet boating community (thank you all). People were the most kind.
Although I am no good at this, it was my favourite activity. Well, I have no still photo of my Indiana Jones move, but I did film myself a bit. Watch my youtube to discover how clumsy I can be.
The actual trick was to coil the rope and hold the tail before throwing… else be prepared to lose the rope and not land the rope at all.
The highlight in my YouTube video is different from my photos because I couldn’t do video and photos at the same time 😛
The amount of beautiful things that I saw along the way is hard to explain. It maybe better that you watch my video to find out. Barging start at 3:13, absolutely amazing to see. I filmed everything from day 1 in training, going through locks, rope throwing, bridge operating… etc This video pretty much covers more or less what to expect if you choose to go onto a Le Boat trip (Migennes to Tannay, 7 days)
Cruising hours & number of locks
Per Le Boat’s official catalogue, from Migennes to Tannay the cruising time is supposed to be 24 hours. There are 49 locks between the 2 bases.
I think the 24 hours is total bullshit! Based on the minutes that I recorded, it took an average of 20 to 25 minutes per lock. Some basic maths would have logically conclude that just passing the 49 locks alone will take:
20 minutes x 49 locks = 980 minutes = 16.3 hours
Just based on the part in Canal du Nivernais (aka not the starting point of this trip), from Gurgy to Tannay is around 78km aka, just this section along takes 7.8 hours if we can drive in full speed; but NO, because part of the canal’s maximum speed was 6 km/h (I can’t remember exactly but it was below 10km/h for sure). So were we expected to teleport from Migennes to the Canal so that we had a chance to complete within 24 hours?
Who the hell came up with 24 hours to complete the entire route with the boat’s top speed? In case you forgot, the top speed was 10km per hour. Either the person sucked at maths or the estimated time was based on a speed boat.
In reality, it took us around 38 hours:
- The time listed on Le Boat’s brochure was clearly unrealistic.
- On an average day, we had to barge for about 6-7 hours a day in order to make it to port in time to hand over the boat, whereas the brochure says 4 to 5 hours a day.
- We didn’t barge on day one because we completed our check in quite late. Bear in mind that we had to hand in the boat before 9h00 on the last day. So although it was a 7 days trip, we only had 5 full days for barging.
- The locks are mostly only opened from 9h00 to 17h30 and closed for an hour during lunch. If you’re in France, the lunch hour is sacred. **on the official brochures they states that they’re opened till 18h30 during summer, but based on our experience when we reached the locks at 18h00 there was no body.
It is now time for some real rant…
As a first timers, the training was inadequate to say the least. There were too many things that weren’t explained. I didn’t know $£$%. Why do I sound ‘slightly’ pissed? Well… let me share with you what sort of stupid problems we ran into.
Right of ways
We were told about the bridge signs and where to cross… but for everywhere else on the river no one told us about which side to drive on! What do the buoys mean? Nobody told us about them and it was not in the manual. Plus, the data is spotty, so we couldn’t even do a Google search for help. Guess what? We were stuck in the plants. Thank goodness for the thrusters (propeller buttons), we got out quite quickly.
The manual file didn’t match exactly to what we had on the boat. So it literately took us 30 minutes of trial and error to figure out how to get the air con to work.
As for the barbeque, we never got it started until a technician came to help us. What the hell was with the instructions in the manual, both the photo and the description did not match the barbeque that we had.
We didn’t know that we had a hammer and nails under the chair. These are tools for parking on grass aka park anywhere. Only found out about them when we parked at Cravant when our kind neighbours lend us theirs until we found ours. Well, it was more like, we asked them to come onto our boat to find them for us.
Rope throwing (parking)
No one taught us rope throwing techniques when we were at the Le Boat base at Migennes! There’s a method to it. Guess what, at the first lock, I couldn’t even land the rope after 11 tries. Can you imagine how crazy that was when it was 40 degrees Celcius? Plus, because of my own inability, the other boat behind us had to wait for me to land the rope.
*Admittedly, I enjoyed rope throwing the most because it felt as if I was Indiana Jones; but it started to feel sad after I failed 11 times at one stop.
My top tip?
Choose your boat mate(s) carefully. Bear in mind that this person(s) will be more or less in your face for 24/7 x number of days. Clearly, this type of holiday is all about spending intimate (aka quality) time with family and friends.
Le Boat’s official site – http://leboat.com
The boat that we were on: Mystique (comfort plus).
Le Boat’s brochure for this region – https://www.leboat.com/sites/default/files/nivernaisloire-guide-eng.pdf
This was a piggy back trip; I was invited. This boat required a minimum of 2 adults to operate… so I got lucky 😉 I have no professional affiliation with Le Boat. I have become quite the fan though LOL My family is pretty enthusiastic about doing a trip.