It takes just a few moments to adjust to driving on the left-hand side of the road and France is one destination in Europe which it’s great to escape from the cities and to explore the many varied regions. If you worry about driving, perhaps the best way to travel is on a spacious canal boat.
Just picture you and the children drifting along a country canal, watching the scenery float by while you lunch on fresh baguettes, tomatoes, cheese, olives and a glass of the local wine. France is made for canal cruising, and unlike the narrow boats of England, canal cruisers in France give you space to relax. The canals were originally used for transporting goods the length and breath of the country, and today they provide a peaceful way of exploring the countryside. You can select a region and find boats of all shapes and sizes. You don’t need a special boat license but if you’re not sure about self-skippering, most companies will provide tuition or a skipper.
Perhaps the largest fleet of self-skippered boats in Europe is Crown Blue Line. Their vessels range in size with berths for four to 12 passengers – ideal and economical for a family or two sharing.
Each boat includes a full kitchen, sheets, towels and all the necessary navigation and safety equipment. A great idea is to hire bikes to take on board with you. Cycle to see local attractions and allow the children to burn up energy.
If wine appeals, consider Burgundy with its many vineyards or the Loire Valley with its chateaux and splendid gardens. Explore the home of Leonardo da Vinci. The children can see his many machines – helicopters, submarines, tanks and bicycles – recreated and on display in his former garden. If it’s food you want, cruise the Loire/Nivernais – the upper Loire – or the foie gras capital of France, the Dordogne.
Toulouse, on the wonderful Canal Du Midi, is home to the new super jumbo, the Airbus A380 and nearby is the national (aeronautical) space museum. Also on the Midi is Carcassonne with its fairy-tale castle dominating the skyline. No matter where you chose, spend a few days in Paris - the children will love Eurodisney or Asterix park, you'll love the shopping and the Eiffel Tower.
Crown Blue Line is represented in Australia by Outdoor Travel Pty Ltd. You can elect to cruise one way or take a return canal cruise. For a brochure or to make a reservation see your travel agent or contact Outdoor Travel.