Boating holidays in France

If you’ve ever dreamt about taking the helm of your own canal boat and exploring France then you’ve come to the right place! Nicols offers self-drive boating holidays from over 20 different start bases right across France and what’s more no previous boating experience or a licence is needed.

With almost 8000km of waterways, France has the largest network of rivers and canals in Europe waiting to be explored. Nicols have holiday itineraries for a weekend, a short break or longer holidays – all offering a different way to see the country as you slowly travel from village to village and lock to lock.

Our team has identified the best boating holidays in France – highlighting routes that see you pass through beautiful countryside and into interesting towns and cities. What are you waiting for… It’s time to cast off!

If you’ve not tried one before then what can you expect from a waterways holiday? Above all waterways holidays are fun and flexible – offering an array of different activities both on and around the waterways. In fact waterways holidays really have something for everyone no matter what your age or interests might be. You and your crew will see ever changing views as you navigate along France’s beautiful canals and rivers whilst your comfortable and roomy Nicols canal boat provides some of the very best accommodation available for waterways holidays.


Our collection of boating holidays in France is one of the biggest on offer – with 20 Nicols bases in 12 different regions.

As one of the leading boating holiday specialists, Nicols has created many different cruising itineraries made up of loop cruises, one-way trips or a return to base option. Head to our ‘all boating holidays’ page for an idea of the different options available to you.



Everybody has heard of the Canal du Midi, after all it is France’s most famous canal! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, it is lined by plane trees and cypress trees which provide welcome shade over the canal in the warm southern sunshine. Cruise through the vineyards of Languedoc Roussillon and the medieval city of Carcassonne with a boating holiday on the Canal du Midi.

Fans of fine wines and history should consider renting a canal boat for an adventure in Burgundy. Be seduced by  rich history, gastronomy and the finest wines with a boating holiday on the Canal de Bourgogne.

Find magic, mystery and folklore with a boating holiday in Brittany. The location of our Nicols bases means you have access to several waterways – the Canal de Nantes à Brest, River Erdre and the River Vilaine.


“This was our first boating holiday in France but such an amazing family adventure. We loved it so much that we’re already looking at the map of waterways ready to choose the next region of France we want to explore by canal boat! "

Marie – 35 years old and with three children

Read the reviews

A waterways holiday
Ideal whatever your age or interests!

To help you choose the perfect boating holiday Nicols has identified regions, routes and boats that are best suited to particular types of crews or areas of interest that people are looking for from their holiday. We hope our ideas inspire you. Look out for our icon illustrations flagging these themes across the website.