Canal du Midi in southern France.

Piloting a Boat Through French Canals:
Life On Board

Life on board a canal boat

We are traveling through France on a rented boat cruising along one of the many canals. This is a very pleasant way to travel!

You are floating along in your own private home, preparing meals or stopping along the canal to walk into a small town.

Left to right at breakfast time — my dad and mom, Larry, and Shirley.

You have probably tied up for the night near a small town, so someone can walk to the boulangerie and pick up freshly baked bread.

We will also have butter and jam for the bread, plus sliced melons. A refrigerator in the galley can keep that cold.

As for the bread, you do it the French way, of course — always get freshly baked bread every day!

Breakfast time on board the canal boat.

We are looking aft through the dining area. Two cabins are side-by-side under the aft upper deck. A ladder leads up to the upper deck.

See the small fan on the bulkhead. Each cabin had its own fan, run from a 12V battery system. There's more on the electrical system in a later section.

Dining area on board the canal boat.

Now we're looking forward across the dining area. The auxilliary helm is at left. A ladder leads down beside it to the small galley and into the forward cabin.

The side hatch is slid open. A gangplank on board can be laid from there to the shore or a pier. Otherwise, when underway, there is a narrow ledge you can walk along using handrails to move from here to the foreward deck area or aft and up to the upper deck.

Dining area and auxilliary on board the canal boat.

My mom and Shirley are in the galley. It has a stovetop and oven, although all we used was the refrigerator. That's to keep the wine and cheese refrigerated.

Galley (cooking area) on board the canal boat.
Aft cabin with two bunks on board the canal boat.

The aft cabins have two narrow bunks with storage cabinets underneath, behind, and above.

Each cabin on this boat had its own head (!), which doubled as a shower.

Go see my Toilets of the World page if you're really into plumbing details.

Head (toilet) on board the canal boat.
Details of the head (toilet) on board the canal boat.

The heads use pump flushing to flush the head into the holding tank. It's not really a perfect system, but it works.

These more elaborate pump toilets were on the newer model we rented on our first trip.

The older and simpler technology on the older model was superior. A foot level opened the flapper valve at the bottom, and you could either pump water in by hand or, more effectively, use the detachable shower head.