Looking for a relaxing holiday that is a step away from the everyday? Enjoy a vacation that is a flexible as you are? Why not try a French boating holiday? France has a complex network of natural waterways and man-made canals throughout the country so boating is an ideal way to explore places that you would miss if you travelled by road or rail.

Travelling by boat is very similar to travelling by caravan. There are sleeping quarters on the boat as well as facilities for cooking meals and you are free to stop and rest or explore what ever strikes your fancy. You can stop for lunch at a tiny village restaurant, moor up for an afternoon and go mountain biking or jump off to take in an art gallery…no juggling maps or mad lane changing on the motorway necessary!

If the idea of floating along a French canal at 4mph sounds a bit geriatric, fear not. There are plenty of powerboats available for hire as well. Depending on your budget, you can choose a super-equipped luxury yacht, essentially a floating hotel, or more a scaled down holiday cruiser which is suitable for a family holiday.

The boats are most commonly categorised by the number sleeping places available rather than engine size or length. It is important to remember that the number of people a craft can sleep is expressed as an absolute maximum. Boats are very much like tents in this regard meaning a 12 person boat can sleep 12 in a pinch, but are likely to be much more comfortable if they sleep 10. The dining table is often converted into the last double bed so unless you don’t mind waiting for your friends to get up before you eat your breakfast, it is wise to keep the number of people aboard a bit below the maximum.

Some of the larger craft require a qualified driver but most of the craft can be skippered any adult. This absolute freedom means you can, quite literally, stop on a whim. If you’ve never driven a boat before, it may be best to rent from an established company rather than through a private owner. Larger companies are able to provide detailed instructions and 24 hour technical support should you have a disaster.