Canal du Midi in southern France.

Piloting a Boat Through French Canals

Tying Up for the Evening, and Weather

Tying up for the evening

We are traveling through France by cruising along the canals in a rented boat. With just a little planning, you can almost always have a nice place to tie up at a small town along the way. The boat rental companies may give you a binder with a guide to your route, listing suggested tie-up points and towns with restaurants and grocery stores along the way.

Some villages had regular tie-up points built with wooden or steel bollards. In some cases we would need to drive stakes to tie up, as you see here.

Yes, the boat could be locked up, and we did, but security just didn't seem to be a big issue.

Depending on the bank, at some places we could simply step off onto the shore. We had a gangplank for places where we needed it.

Boats tied up for the night along a canal in central France.
Walking through a small town in central France.

There would be plenty of time to explore the town.

Some small towns are pretty quiet in the evening.

Walking through a quiet small town in central France.
Walking through a quiet small town in central France.

They all had some nice place to get dinner, and a bakery and pastry shop where we could return in the morning to pick up breakfast.

A restaurant, bakery and pastry shop in a small town in central France.

We're tied up for the night on the Canal Lateral à la Loire near Nevers.

Sunset over the canal in central France.


Mid-June through mid-July is not only the most expensive time to rent a boat, it can be awfully hot.

And just like in the midwestern US, really hot and humid weather can lead to some impressive storms.

Here you can see distinct precipitation columns falling from storm clouds. Note the mammus formations on the bottom of the cloud, a sign of turbulence sometimes seen in storms that spawn tornados.

An approaching storm in France
An approaching storm with severe turbulence

OK, that's getting closer... We were able to get into the beginning of a section of canal running through a woods, so the wind wasn't as bad as it might have been.

We were hit with some very heavy precipitation and high winds. Some rain and lots of hail about 1 cm in diameter.

An approaching storm with heavy rain shafts

The aftermath on the rear deck include piles of hail and lots of leaves beat from the trees.

This storm happened on the next-to-last day of our first trip, in late June on the Canal Latéral à la Loire in central France.

Our second trip was in mid-May on the Canal du Midi in southern France. The weather was variable, sunny and hot on some days, and cloudy and a bit cool on others. You're in the south of France, so you can expect both hot sun and cool breezes out of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Hail on the aft deck