Settle down with a cheese board, a glass of your favourite red and discover the true meaning of 'joie de vivre'.

Life doesn’t get much better than leisurely cruising the countryside, drifting past sleepy hamlets while sampling some of the best cheese southern France has to offer. What river boating lacks in crystal clear waters and sandy beaches, it more than makes up for in delicious excursions – cycling through vineyards for a taste at the cellar door, loading up on croissants at the village bakery, and browsing fresh produce at farmers markets. Then there’s the history, Carcassonne’s legendary fortified city, monasteries where monks have crafted wine for centuries and the ruined remains of Castle Decize. Pick up a glass and join us - this is life in the slow lane, Intrepid-style.

Our River Boating trips

8 Days From £1,275

Relax and sample some of the Burgoyne’s famous wine and cheese as you cruise down the...

8 Days From £1,375

Experience life at a different pace on this peaceful and relaxing drift down the Canal...

8 Days From £1,375

Relax and sample some of the Burgoyne’s famous wine and cheese as you cruise down the...

8 Days From £1,375

Experience life at a different pace on this peaceful and relaxing drift down the Canal...

8 Days From £1,375

Relax and sample some of the Burgoyne’s famous wine and cheese as you cruise down the...

Why choose River Boating

All our riverboat tours come with full inclusions.

Full inclusions 

Our river boating trips come with everything you need to make the most of your time on the water. That includes a leader to steer your boat, kitchen starter pack, BBQ, Wi-Fi and even bikes, so you can cycle to the nearby chateaux.

You can kick back or choose to help sail the boat.

No experience needed

Your fully-trained onboard leader is there to help you sit back and relax while they operate the boat. If you’d like to pick up some boating skills, they can also show you the ropes.  

Spend equal time on the water and on land.

Best of both worlds

While drifting along French waterways is a highlight of our trips, there's also plenty of free time on land to explore villages and see the sights. You can choose to walk or even ride along the river on a bike. 

Safety is our number one priority.

Safety first

Safety is our number one priority, which is why our boats are all top-of-the-line and range from brand new to a handful of years old.

Highlights of River Boating

Taste some of the Sancerre region's best wines.

Sample wines in Sancerre

Sancerre’s greatest claim to fame is its number one export: sauvignon blanc. The region’s success comes down to the bed of chalk that runs beneath it, making it the perfect site for viticulture. Learn about Sancerre’s proud wine making traditions while visiting local cellar doors, and even a goat cheese farm.

Visit Sancerre on our Waterways of Burgundy tour

Cycle alongside the Canal du Midi

Is there anything more quintessentially French than a morning bike ride to the boulangerie to pick up some fresh baguettes? Load up on croissants, eclairs and more, then ride along the canal back to your boat (or stop along the way and enjoy a guilty picnic on the banks).

Saddle up on our Canal du Midi tour

Wander the historic city of Carcassonne

The second most visited tourist site in all of France (the first being the Eiffel Tower) has a history dating all the way back to the 6th Century BC, with just about every stone bridge, cobbled lane and fairy-tale castle having a story to share. Choose to walk these ancient streets or jump on a bike and race to the city’s enticing fromageries.

Explore the streets of Carcassonne

Our boats

Our boat, the Grand Classique.

Grand Classique

Spend one of the most relaxing weeks of your life cruising aboard the Grand Classique. Built for comfort and ease of operation (with a top speed of 15 kilometres/9 miles), the vessel is fitted with four twin/double cabins, a fully operational kitchen, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and  sundeck – the perfect viewpoint for watching the French countryside drifty on by.

Click for deck plans and more information

Gallery

FAQs

Yes, all of our trips will be accompanied by a leader. They’ll be on hand to operate the boat (and encourage you to give it a go) and give you helpful information about the towns you’ll be travelling through. Our leaders are just as helpful off the boat, too. They’ll take you on walking or cycling tours of the towns and villages at each destination and can recommend local cafes, restaurants and bars to visit.

No. The beauty of travelling with Intrepid is that you can purchase this trip by the berth. This means you can be a single traveller, a couple or a group of friends and you will still pay a per person price. If you are a group of friends and would like to charter the entire boat for your own private use, get in touch with our Private Groups team.

You do not need any previous boating experience to take part in a river boating trip. On arrival, you’ll get an in-depth briefing on the specifics of your boat so you can cruise in confidence. Your leader will also be on hand and, if needed, we have additional staff on standby who can make their way to the boat.

In short, yes. The boat will be travelling along the Canal du Midi and the Canal Lateral a la Loire and we will encounter locks along the way. Locks are used to raise or lower boats in the canals as they pass through different elevations. Each time we enter a lock, we’ll need one traveller at the bow and one at the stern to hold ropes that guide the boat into and out of the lock, along with one person (usually the leader) behind the wheel. This is by no means strenuous work and is a unique feature of river boating, so we encourage all travellers to participate.   

The locks are usually in operation from 9am to 5pm and closed for an hour at lunch. The route planner will give you distances between locks and their opening hours so you can plan your journey. On most days we will manoeuvre the boat so we can be one of the first boats through the lock at 9am. This means you can have a leisurely breakfast or go for a ride or walk before we set off each day.

Of course you can, that’s half the fun of river boating. The boat has a maximum speed of 15 km/hr on rivers and 6 to 8 km/hr on canals, so the boat is not moving at high speed. The steering wheel is located on the sundeck, with another wheel on the main deck for those rare days we encounter rain. There are only three controls: forward, reverse and neutral, and two buttons, a left and right, to control the thruster.

No. Included in the cost of the trip is Collision Damage Waiver insurance. All you need to do is nominate yourself (alongside other travellers) during the boat briefing as wanting to operate the boat and your details will be taken down and you will be covered by our insurance.

You don’t need to be an athlete however you will need to be able to be comfortable moving around the boat. You will also need to be able to embark and disembark, to pick up a rope and secure it to a bollard, and hold on to it as we pass through a lock.

Walking and bike tracks follow both canals for the most part and, if you feel like being active, you can take one of the included onboard bikes for a ride and head into one of the village markets. Another option is to take a leisurely walk each morning before the boat sets sail for the day.

No. If you’re happy to share a cabin with a traveller of the same gender then you only pay the twin share price. When booking, your sales agent will check the gender mix on the boat before a confirmation is made. If you do not identify with the gender on your passport and would like us to take this into account when allocating cabins, please tell your sales agent at the time of booking or get in touch with our team.

Yes. A single supplement can be requested at the time of booking. The cost of the single supplement is twice the cabin cost, however you do not pay twice for the included activities.

A ‘starter pack’ is included on each trip. The starter pack includes staples such as croissants, baguettes/bread, milk, butter, jam, sugar, tea, coffee, milk, juice, snacks, olive oil, wine, beer, soft drink, water and juice [see the Essential Trip Information for the complete list].

The starter pack is enough to cover your first breakfast, morning and afternoon snacks, and a sunset drink on the first night. After the operational briefing the leader will take you to a local deli and supermarket to buy more supplies.

One option for covering meals that aren’t included in your trip is for the group to contribute to a kitty on the first day of the trip (approximately EU 25-30, or US 30-35, per person) that can be managed by the group or designated individual. This can be used to purchase food at supermarkets or pay for the group’s meal at a restaurant. For evening meals, the leader will recommend local restaurants and pre-book them if needed. The boat also comes with a fully equipped kitchen and BBQ if you’d prefer to stay onboard and enjoy a meal on deck instead.

If you have any allergies or special dietary requirements, please advise at the time of booking.

We have included activities and meals in our itineraries but you can always choose not to participate. If you wish to visit a town which isn’t included, our itinerary is flexible enough to try and accommodate your requests. Just speak to your leader and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

Yes. Both are generated by the boat’s motor and you’ll be able to enjoy a hot shower at the end of the day. A number of bases also have shower and toilet facilities that are either free or available at a small fee. The onboard voltage is 220v.

Our trips include all linen, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. WiFi is also available onboard and you’ll be able to play music by plugging your phone into the radio using a phone/MP3 jack or USB connection.

If you're having a significant birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, we can pre-order a special basket to help you celebrate. Beautifully presented, each gift basket comes brimming with local delicacies and specialty products from the region. Prices begin from approximately EU 90 (US 97). To find out more about gift baskets, please contact our staff

Reviews

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), September 2017

Jan Conlon

The Canal du Midi (Homps to Castelnaudary), September 2017

LAWRENCE GI BBS

Waterways of Burgundy - Chatillion sur Loire - Decize, July 2017

Stuart Marshall

The Canal du Midi (Homps to Castelnaudary), July 2017

Dianne Thorstensen

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Keith Green

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Kate Green

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Wendy Dawson

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Michael Beale

Read more about River Boating

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