Useful links and info. etc.

This page provides useful information about travelling and boating in France, plus some links to other travel or boating-related sites that we have found useful or stimulating. If you'd like to discuss reciprocal links, please contact us!

 

ON THIS PAGE:

 

10 things to help you enjoy wining and dining in France

 

8 Things you should know about boating in France

 

Buying a boat in France? Read this article first to help you

navigate the tricky currents of boat purchasing

 

Some useful boat-related links

 

12 Tips for Travelling in France

 

A map of the inland waterways of France 

 
8 Things You Should Know about Boating in France...

 

  1. You need serviced and certified fire extinguishers on board and must be able to show them if asked by the gendarmes.

  2. When hiring a boat you will probably not be told this, but SLOW DOWN when passing moored boats on canals.

  3. On the Canal du Midi you are not supposed to tie your boat to trees as it can spread tree diseases. Use bollards and mooring rings provided.

  4. If you enter a lock and you know there is a boat following you, wait for it to also enter before closing the lock gates.

  5. At locks, commercial boats always have priority, both going into the lock and exiting it. Always give way to commercial boats.

  6. Always have a sharp knife or a hatchet within reach of your steering position in case a rope gets tangled in a lock. If the lock is emptying and your boat starts to 'hang', cutting the rope is your only option - there won't be time to untie it!

  7. When buying fuel, try and find a supermarket gas station near the canal and ferry your fuel in jerry cans. Buying fuel at dedicated canal refuelling points is much more expensive.

  8. In locks on the Rhône it is compulsory for you and your crew to wear life jackets.

 

Happy cruising, and

'bon courage'!

10 things to help you enjoy wining and dining in France!

 

If you’re visiting France this summer, don’t let the language get in the way of your enjoyment…

 

  1. If you’re at a café and you want coffee with milk, ask for a ‘café crème’ (pronounced ‘krem’), not ‘café au lait’ or ‘café avec lait’. The French don’t seem to understand the logical ‘coffee with milk’, but will definitely know what you want with café crème.

  2. When entering the boulangerie, or any small local shop, endear yourself to the management and locals by wishing them a hearty ‘bonjour!’ as you enter. If the shop is empty of customers and there is only the shopkeeper, look her in the eye when you give your greeting, (and add Madame or Monsieur depending on their gender). The French do like eye contact.

  3. Learn at least how to say you don’t speak French very well; it will show the French that you acknowledge your lack of skill in their language, but is more likely to gain you sympathy than derision. ‘Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas Français bien,’ (I am sorry, I don’t speak French well) isn’t that difficult to learn!

  4. In summer, at a bar or restaurant when you order a glass of red wine, the waiter may ask if you want it ‘fresh’. What he’s actually asking is, would you like it chilled. Say yes if it’s a really hot day – the French often drink their table reds cold – but if you just want it room temperature simply say, ‘non, atmosphere merci’ (meaning, no, room temperature thanks).

  5. When you walk into a café or restaurant as a couple, the maître d' may well say, ‘Bonjour Monsieur-Dame!’ This is a truncated version of monsieur and madame – monsieur-dame – and is quite common. (You never hear it the other way round – ‘madame-sieur’ – gender equity hasn’t got that far there yet!)

  6. When you’ve finished your meal, do NOT click your fingers and shout ‘Garçon!’ to get the bill. Those days are long gone (if they were ever here). Just catch the waiter’s eye and politely ask, ‘L’addition s'il vous plaît?’ and it will be brought to you.

  7. Wine can be ordered in cafes and bars in all shapes and sizes. Single glasses are always available obviously, but also it’s quite common to find wine available in pichets, small jugs often of pottery. These can be the equivalent of one very large glass, or two glasses, or half a litre even. Have a look around at the other tables and if you see a pichet of the size you’d like, point to it and say ‘comme ça, s'il vous plaît’, (like that, please).

  8. Rosé wine in France is common everywhere, but is not the sickly sweet lolly water of bygone days. Today most rosé wines are dry, and can be quite elegant. Don’t be afraid to try them!

  9. When wanting lunch, keep an eye out for the café that offers a ‘formule’. This is a fixed-price menu of two or even three courses and is usually extremely good value. Within this fixed-price menu you usually get to choose between two different mains and two different desserts.

  10. Wine in supermarkets. There’s usually lots of it, but keep an eye out for the section labelled ‘vins locaux’, local wines. These will represent the region you’re visiting, and you won’t necessarily find them where you’re next headed. So think local, drink local!

 

Bon app!

 

 

Buying a Boat in France?

If you're thinking of buying a boat in France, download this article to help you navigate the tricky currents of boat purchasing!

Some useful boat-related links...

 

Boat hire companies…

 

 
 
 
 
 

12 Tips for Travelling in France

  1. When travelling by train you will have to validate your train ticket at the station before boarding. Look for a small yellow machine labelled ‘Compostage de billets’ – insert your ticket in the slot and it will be stamped with that day’s date and time. Presenting an unvalidated ticket to the inspector will likely result in a fine.

  2. Beware scams in public places, especially rail stations in big cities. For example ‘the ring trick’, where a person walking past you stoops and picks up a ring, asking if you’ve dropped it. They then say it’s your lucky day and give it to you, but ask for some money (the ring is usually brass and worthless). If you refuse you’ll find yourself surrounded by their aggressive and intimidating accomplices, and it won’t be pleasant.

  3. A left-hand drive rental car makes driving in France (and Europe in general) much easier, but take the same precautions when parking as you would anywhere else: don’t leave valuables in sight, and preferably take them with you, especially your passports.

  4. If you’re in a hurry, use the autoroutes – they’re usually tolled, but in excellent condition and very fast. A word of caution though: while the autoroute toll booths say they accept credit cards, this seems to be arbitrary. Be prepared to try all your cards, and have cash available just in case.

  5. Watch out for police road checkpoints at roundabouts (traffic islands) – once in, you’re trapped!

  6. When motoring in France you’re required to carry a set of spare light bulbs for your vehicle, two breathalysers, reflective jackets, and a reflective warning triangle. Failing to produce them when asked could result in a fine. Also note it is illegal in France to drive while wearing headphones or earbuds, even for phone calls.

  7. The RAC advise that if you break down on a French autoroute you cannot call your preferred rescue service, even if it says it offers to rescue you. Instead you must use the orange emergency telephones speced regularly along the road.

  8. Don’t sling your open bag over the back of your café chair – your wallet or purse will likely disappear.

  9. The French still love to go home for lunch, so avoid motoring through towns between 12 noon and about 2.30pm – it’s bedlam!

  10. The less like a tourist you look, the less of a target you are. Dress and act like locals. Your matching rain jackets are a dead giveaway, as is the camera slung round your neck.

  11. Most tourism offices have free Wi-Fi. The French pronounce it ‘wee-fee’.

  12. Local markets: the weekly or bi-weekly town market isn’t a place for bargaining. Everything is usually priced, and that’s what things cost, so don't haggle.
     

  • Below - what you don't want to see in your rear mirror!

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On the right is the VNF's (Voies Navigable de France's) map of the French inland waterways.

 

We used this a lot in order to get 'the big picture' of where we were in relation to the rest of the waterways, or for planning journeys.

 

Its only downside is that it dosn't show main cities unless they are on a river or a canal, so if you want to fly into France to an aiport near a particular canal point you have to look at a more conventional map of France alongside this one.

 

I hope the VNF don't mind my reproducing their nice map here! It's available for free from the VNF offices, and most marinas in France too.

 

Left-click on the map to zoom in

 

 

France: Inland


Waterways

 

 
Self-Publishing Conference Notes

The PDF here contains my notes from

the 2016 Self-Publishing Conference.

Click and download!

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