For a different kind of charter vacation, think about an idyllic, serene and totally relaxing canal cruise in the Petite Camargue area in the south of France. Life on a 49-foot canal boat from Le Boat, with three staterooms, all with en suite heads and showers, is about as easy as it can ever can be, and watching the sun go down from the top deck, eating some local cheese and oysters and sipping some of the local rosé is pretty hard to beat.
Here’s a first-person story from The Guardian about four people spending five days along the Canal du Rhone on a Le Boat Vision 3 SL, which sleeps up to ten and has a 15-foot beam. You don’t need boating experience to charter from Le Boat. These friends got a quick training session at Le Boat’s yard in Saint-Gilles and they were off. On the other hand, all the boating is on a canal, the boat cruises at 5 mph, and you control it with a joystick, so it isn’t too strenuous.
The Camargue area is a low, flat land with medieval fishing villages and towns and some seaport cities dating back to ancient Roman and Crusader days. But there also are modern beach resorts – with gorgeous beaches – and lots of places to stop at local farmers’ markets for food and wine.
On the cruise, you can stay in marinas or you can tie up along the sides of the canal, simply pounding stakes into the grassy banks to keep the boat moored overnight. Then you can take a hike along the towpath or into nearby villages, or take in the native wildlife, including herons and white flamingos. This group celebrated a birthday on board on the Languedoc Canal, with grilled goat-cheese salad and some local rosé; it’s a birthday they’ll all remember.
The Saint-Gilles base is one of Le Boat’s ten charter operations in France, and it offers smaller boats that sleep four or six.