Le Boat, the French company with the world’ largest fleet of river and canal charter boats, is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year, and it just opened its second base on the historic Rideau Canal in Ontario, Canada. It also is expanding its fleet there.
When it started in 1969, Le Boat had eight boats on the gorgeous Canal du Midi in France. The concept of chartering a canal boat that you could drive yourself proved popular almost immediately, and the company has grown exponentially. Today, Le Boat has 940 boats in eight countries around the world.
Last spring, Le Boat opened its first base in North America, at Smith’s Falls, about half way between Kingston and Ottawa on the Rideau Canal. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Rideau runs for 125 miles through picturesque towns, unspoiled lakes and pastoral countryside in what many people consider one of the most beautiful cruising grounds on the continent. Le Boat started with 16 boats there.
The Rideau was so popular that Le Boat is opening a second base on the canal, on Seeley’s Bay, Ontario, which is just 23 miles above Kingston. With that base, you can enjoy a one-way cruise on the canal, instead of making a round-trip to Smith’s Falls.
And Le Boat is bringing in four more boats to the Rideau this month. Three are the large Horizon 5 models, which can sleep up to 12 people in five cabins, with five heads and full galleys. The Horizon 5 is 48 feet long, with a 14-foot beam. (A Horizon is pictured above on Big Rideau Lake.)
You don’t need any boating experience or a boating license to charter from Le Boat. The company will provide instructions and an orientation to people who’ve never chartered or run a boat before. Most of the boats have bow thrusters or joy sticks to help with low-speed maneuvering.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Le Boat is offering special discounts this year. You can save 25 percent on Canal du Midi cruises in April and May, for example, if you book for seven nights. You can save 15 percent on a Rideau Canal cruise in May if you book for at least three nights. Read more: