Do I need a special licence to drive a boat ?

No licence is needed to enjoy a Nicols boating holiday. In France, legislation does not require you to have a licence if the boat is less or equal to 15 metres in length and where the speed does not exceed 12km/h. All Nicols boats meet these requirements - especially as the maximum speed allowed on canals is 6-8km/h. Note: if renting a boat of 13m plus a pool the overall length will exceed 15 metres in which case you will require a Pleasure Boat Licence.

boat rental from Dole in Franche-Comté - France

Is it easy to drive the boats ?

Don't worry if you've never been on a boat before - you don't need any previous boating experience. On arrival at the base a member of the Nicols team will take you out on the water with the boat and provide a hands on demonstration - covering everything from what knots to use to how the shower works.

All our boats are easy to operate and manoeuvre with just forward and reverse gears to master. The team at the base will make sure you're confident about every aspect of your trip before you set off including how to go through locks, tying up at the waters edge and mooring in a marina.

If you ever want to familiarize yourself with the Navigation Code, see our corresponding page.

the nicols boats don't need any licence

Is a boating holiday safe for children ?

A boating holiday is a great holiday choice for families - children get to enjoy a new adventure every day and love being part of a crew! At Nicols we take safety very seriously and as such all of our canal boats feature forward and aft pulpits, guard rails and handrails. We would recommend choosing a boat from our Sedan or Estivale range as: 

    • no awkward stairs for children to have to negotiate.
    • the aft terrace is surrounded by a 1m high balustrade that young children wouldn't be able to climb over.
    • it's easy to keep an eye on children playing on the aft terrace from either the lounge area or the inside steering position.

We recommend that children wear life jackets at all times. Life jackets are provided at the base and are compulsory for children.

boating holiday with children

How do we go through a lock?

Negotiating locks is all part of the fun of a boating holiday and is very simple to do. Find out more by reading our 'Useful information' page. There are no charges for passing through locks.

passing through a lock with a nicols confort 900

What happens if we break down?

In the unlikely event of a breakdown or technical problem with your boat we will send out a technician as soon as possible. Simply call the base explaining the problem and your location. We're available 7 days a week (during base opening hours).

Nicols sedan 1160

Can we take bikes onboard?

Yes, you may bring your own bikes or alternatively hire them from Nicols.

Tow paths are great for cycling and bikes are great for exploring a little further afield inland.
For more information on taking bikes read our 'Useful information' page.

bike ride along a canal

Can we go for a swim?

Lots of our cruising routes have excellent places for swimming so remember to pack your swimming costume! Alternatively, why not add one of our exclusive towed (and heated!) splash pools. (Do not hesitate to contact us for further details).

swimming in the grande lago - Portugal

Do we need good weather?

We love sunshine and warm weather but it's not essential to enjoy a boating holiday. The flexibility of being able to go where you want when you want means that you can head to places and attractions that don't require perfect weather. Also, just being together as a family without all the modern technology for entertainment provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy more traditional forms of entertainment such as board games and card games.

A family in a nicols sedan

Can I choose between a Return or One way cruise?

A return to base cruise is great if you fancy seeing more of the towns and villages on your route.
If you find a place you want to stay at for longer then you can adjust your journey without the pressure of having to leave
and continue on to the end base.

A one way cruise is the ideal way to see more of the area without retracing your steps. At the end of your one way boating holiday we can arrange for your car to be delivered to you at the end base or for you to be taken back to the start base (at extra cost).

A cruise with nicols

How much does a boating holiday cost?

  • Our boating holidays represent good value as there is one cost for the canal boat hire which can then be divided between the number of people going on the holiday.
    Other than the cost of the boat consumables such as fuel there are no other costs.
  • The main activities are free: 4 to 5 hours cruising per day, going for a walk, cycling on the towpaths, fishing, swimming and of course exploring the villages you pass.
  • You can even moor overnight wherever you want (also free) or if you want to take advantage of their facilities in a harbour/marina (low cost).
boating holidays with friends

Do I need special insurance ?

We recommend you have personal travel insurance as if you were travelling on any type of holiday.

You don't need additional insurance for a boating holiday. Before you depart we ask for a security deposit which will be returned at the end of the cruise when the boat is brought back in good condition and undamaged. See our 'Prices' page for more information.

nicols estivale octo crossing a lock

How do I book?

Before booking your canal boat holiday you need to:


Then, simply contact our sales team to check if the boat is available and to reserve it.
You'll then have one week to send by post confirmation of the holiday in the form of our booking form and your deposit.

How do I book a Nicols cruise?