Self-drive cruising along the Canal du Midi

Self-Drive Cruising & Holiday Packages

Self-drive canal boating is the ideal way to discover the charm and mystery of hidden regional provinces. Cruise through peaceful countryside, past tempting vineyards and historic villages where tiny medieval churches, ancient chateaux, quaint markets and small local restaurants will offer you an endless stream of new experiences and delights.

Self-drive Cruising: Explore France at Your Own Pace

Leave rigid itineraries and bustling crowds behind! With Entire Travel Group, set sail on a self-drive cruise holiday through France's sun-kissed waterways, crafting a holiday as unique as you are.

Imagine gently gliding along the Canal du Midi, pausing to admire the majesty of Carcassonne or savour rosé in serene riverside villages. Or venture through Burgundy's fairytale vineyards, with chateaux peeking from rolling hills and the scent of fresh bread dancing in the air. Navigate the tranquil canals of Alsace, where picturesque half-timbered houses line the water and Alsatian delights like flammekueche and choucroute await.

Entire Travel Group takes care of the logistics, leaving you free to choose your route, set your own schedule, and linger wherever your heart desires. More than just a voyage, it's an immersion into the French soul, from local delicacies and charming towns to ancient forests and iconic cities.

Discover our self-drive cruise packages today and craft your unforgettable French odyssey.

Popular Self-drive Cruising Destinations

Our self-drive cruise packages focus on France for a reason –– the country boasts an unmatched network of canals and waterways:

  • Canal du Midi: Explore this picturesque canal in southern France, known for its historic locks, charming villages, and scenic vineyards.
  • Burgundy: Cruise through the wine region of Burgundy, where you can visit renowned vineyards, historic chateaux, and delightful towns.
  • Alsace: Discover the serene canals of Alsace, lined with quaint houses and offering a taste of Alsatian cuisine and culture.
  • Brittany: Navigate the waterways of Brittany and revel in its stunning coastline, mediaeval towns, and delicious seafood.
  • Charente: Cruise along the Charente River, surrounded by beautiful countryside, historic sites, and the opportunity to sample cognac.
  • Loire Valley: Experience the Loire Valley's majestic chateaux, lush gardens, and charming villages as you sail along the Loire River.
  • Provence: Enjoy the beauty of Provence, with its lavender fields, olive groves, and historic towns, while cruising on the Rhône or Saône rivers.

Amenities and Services

Unlike river, barge, or ocean cruises, self-drive cruises come with a unique set of amenities and services, such as:

  • Your floating retreat: Choose from a variety of stylish boats, perfectly tailored to your group size and desired level of luxury. Enjoy spacious decks, fully equipped kitchens, and sleeping under the starlit sky.
  • Local delights at your fingertips: Explore bustling waterside markets and savour regional specialties. Taste fresh baguettes, sip rosé at charming cafes, and indulge in gourmet dinners at riverside restaurants.
  • A haven for relaxation: After a day of adventure, unwind with onboard amenities, including sun loungers, board games, and even hot tubs on select boats.
  • Captain of your journey: Plot your course, linger in your favourite spots, and uncover hidden treasures at your own pace. We provide comprehensive maps and GPS navigation, giving you the freedom to explore.
  • Personalised assistance: Our local experts are just a call away, ready to assist with restaurant recommendations or navigating challenging locks. Enjoy peace of mind, knowing you have all the support for an unforgettable experience.

Planning Your Itinerary

Crafting your ideal self-drive cruise holiday through France begins with aligning your interests, preferred pace, and wanderlust. Consider your interests, whether you're a foodie looking to savour local fare, a history buff eager to explore mediaeval towns, a nature lover seeking lush landscapes or dramatic gorges.

Next, decide on your pace. If you prefer a relaxed journey, plan shorter daily trips with time for leisurely stops and spontaneous explorations. For a moderate pace, aim for moderate distances that allow for sightseeing and cultural experiences while enjoying the serenity of the canals. If you're adventurous and thrill-seeking, plot longer daily stretches with minimal stopovers.

Embrace the unexpected by leaving flexibility in your itinerary for serendipitous discoveries, hidden gems, charming villages, or regional festivals. Don't hesitate to adjust your plans based on the weather or your mood, as self-drive cruising offers the freedom to go with the flow.

Use these tips and ideas as a foundation to create your unforgettable self-drive cruise through France.

Navigating the Open Water

Navigating open waters can seem daunting, but with the right preparation, it's achievable. Here are key considerations for a safe and enjoyable holiday:

Before you set sail:

  • Route Planning: Chart your course, noting landmarks, potential hazards, and refuelling spots. Understand tide and current patterns.
  • Gear Check: Ensure you have the right equipment - a reliable boat, navigation tools, safety gear, and communication devices.
  • Weather Watch: Check the forecast before and during your journey. Be prepared to adapt to changing conditions.

While on the water:

  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with local authorities via VHF radio or satellite phone, especially during emergencies.
  • Stay Alert: Maintain a constant lookout for other vessels, potential hazards like buoys or reefs, and changing weather conditions. Avoid boating under the influence.
  • Follow Regulations: Understand and adhere to maritime rules in your area. This includes safe distances from other vessels, speed limits, and proper lighting for night navigation.
  • Anchoring: Learn effective anchoring techniques to secure your boat against changing tides or currents.
  • Emergency Response: Be prepared for emergencies such as engine failure, grounding, or medical issues. Familiarise yourself with basic first aid and keep an onboard emergency kit.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider taking boating courses or workshops to enhance your navigation skills and boost your confidence.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the area, think about hiring a local guide or skipper to assist you.
  • Start your journey in calmer waters and gradually progress to more challenging conditions as your confidence grows.
  • Above all, savour the experience! The open water offers breathtaking scenery and unique adventures, so approach it with wonder and respect for the environment.

About your Journey

Ease of navigation

No experience required. Prior to departure, a captain’s handbook is provided and a demonstration is given at the base. Technical assistance during your cruise is available if required. Average cruising per day is 5-hours. We have considerable expertise in this unique type of holiday and are happy to share our personal cruising experience with you.


Most locks are automatic and operated by a lock keeper, some canals have manual locks. The time taken to go through a lock is 15- 20 min on average (but varies depending on season and traffic). Our team can advise which canal is best suited to your requirements.

Where to moor

Generally, you can moor anywhere you want along the public canals or riverways. There are some restricted and private areas, but in most cruising regions, finding free moorings is not a problem. You may however prefer to moor in a public or private marina which, for a fee, offer facilities such as electricity hook-ups, water refill, showers, snacks, etc. Moorings in marinas are subject to availability so we recommend you call the marina a few hours before your arrival.

Access to and from the base

Our experienced staff can advise you of the closest airport, train station or car depot.


We recommend you confirm bikes in advance. You can explore the surrounding towns and villages or simply ride along the footpath in search of a baguette!


All prices shown are per boat for weekly rental (8-day 7-night). Actual prices vary according to region, boat type and time of year.

Things to consider

Choosing a region

When considering a self-drive canal boating holiday, we recommend starting by choosing the region in which you wish to cruise. It is a very personal choice – everyone will be attracted to different aspects of self-drive canal boating, so it is important to choose a region that suits your group best.

Choosing an itinerary

The next thing to consider is the type of itinerary. Would you like to see as much of the region as you can with a one way cruise (supplement applies, contact our team for more details), or would you prefer the convenience of returning to your starting point with a round trip?

Choosing your boat

Our boats come in a variety of layouts, so it’s easy to find the perfect one for you. Couples, families, and even large groups of friends will feel at home. When you have made these decisions, you need to consider the type of boat you would like for your trip. Boats vary in size and standard, but all contain separate sleeping cabins, fully-equipped kitchens and bathrooms with linen and towels.

Suggested Regions and ROUTES 

Most regions in France offer a great one-way cruise itinerary easilly achievable in 7 nights: 


The Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage site offering 240 kms of waterways connecting
the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It is a work of art with aqueducts, bridges,91 locks
and a tunnel.

Canal du Midi
  •  Homps to Port Cassafieres
  • Castelnaudary to Homps
  • Trebes to Narbonne


Burgundy deserves its reputation for fine wines and gourmet cuisine. With lush vineyards, rolling hills
and quiet villages, this area offers a network of canals to explore, as well as the majestic Saône River,
the focal point of your Burgundy boat hire in France!

  • Canal du Nivernais – Migennes to Tannay 
  • Canal a la Loire –Decize to Chatillon Sur Loire
  • River Saone – St Jean de Losne to Branges


Magnificent architecture, historic villages, vine-ribboned countryside and more await along Canal de
Garonne in Aquitaine, an expansive region known for its foie gras, truffles, oysters and of course,
superb wines.

  • Castelsarrasin to Le Mas d’Agenais


Embark on a rustic journey to Alsace and discover picturesque villages, soaring churches and
imposing castles tucked among gently rolling hills, ancient forests and miles of lush vineyards.

  • Hesse to Boofzheim, via Strasbourg


Uncover the highlights of Camargue, visit some of the most gorgeous villages and enjoy a wine
tasting in the most famous cellars. This region is famous for its flamingos. 

  • Port Cassafieres to St Gilles


Brittany is a Celtic land with many towering castles and a unique heritage. You can venture to
Nantes and Dinan for the museums, historic sites and fine restaurants. The Vilaine River and
Canal de Nantes à Brest are fine to explore by beginners to self-drive boating


  • Messac to Nort Sur Erdre

Read What We've Written

Aye Aye. Captain! The Basics of Canal Boating in France

Be your own captain and discover the wondrous heart of France aboard a self-drive boat. France is ribboned with great canals and navigable rivers that played a vital part in the rise and fall of cities and kingdoms, making any boating holiday an interesting and memorable experience highlighted by medieval towns, age-old ruins, hilltop villages and spectacular rural sights.

Boating in Aquitaine: What Awaits Along the Canal de Garonne

Magnificent architecture, historic villages, vine-ribboned countryside and more await in Aquitaine, an expansive region known for its foie gras, truffles, oysters and of course, superb wines. Aquitaine used to be a kingdom and a duchy in the Middle Ages and such powerful history is inevitably mirrored in the region’s structures.

The Top Spots for Self-Drive Holiday in France

Explore the beauty of France's rivers and canals on board a self drive boat and you will discover many hidden treasures and traditions of regional France. Being the captain of your own boat is the perfect way to be independent, visiting the different regions of France at your own pace, all the while enjoying the company of the people you have chosen to share this experience with.

FAQs about Self-drive Cruising

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Are self-drive cruises suitable for beginners?

Certainly! These journeys are designed to be beginner-friendly, and you'll receive all the training and support you need to make your cruise safe and enjoyable.

Do I need a licence or special skills to go on a self-drive cruise?

You don't typically need a special licence or any extraordinary skills to embark on a self-drive cruise. Most operators provide training before you set off, ensuring you have the knowledge and confidence for your trip.

How do self-drive cruises work?

Entire Travel Group's self-drive cruises in France offer a flexible and enjoyable experience. You can choose your itinerary, receive comprehensive training, and benefit from their support throughout your trip. Safety is a priority, and no prior boating experience is required.

What amenities are available on self-drive cruise boats?

These boats come with all the essentials like sleeping quarters, kitchens, and bathrooms. Some boats even offer extra comforts like sundecks and hot tubs for that added touch of luxury.

What is a self-drive cruise?

A self-drive cruise holiday is a unique way to explore the waterways where you get to be the captain of your own boat, steering your adventure at your own pace.

What types of boats are used for self-drive cruises?

The types of boats used for self-drive cruises come in various shapes and sizes. Whether you're a couple looking for a cosy getaway or a group planning an adventure, there's a boat that suits your needs.

Where can I go on a self-drive cruise?

Self-drive cruises are available in various destinations, often in some of the most picturesque regions that boast canals, rivers, or scenic coastal routes.

Self Drive Cruising Packages Enquire Now

Self Drive Cruising Packages Enquire Now

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