We hired a Clipper, from Le Boat at Decize for a short 4 day cruise along the Canal du Lateral de Loire.
Tips: In April not much is open, plan your route well and ring ahead for Auberge's - some will open for you. Otherwise food is scarce!
I would say that May / September are ideal as in height of summer the locks are jammed and queuing can be hours long.
The boat company were great, good instructions, handover and briefing plus the boat itself was in perfect order. All very professional. BUT watch the fuel charges; ours was Euro 150.00 extra at the end for 20 hours cruising. (7.50 per hour!!)
Choose your route carefully, a loop is more exciting than a 'there and back' trip. And the Nivernais is more picturesque than the Lateral.
Also, take mosquito candles/guard as they come in at dusk.
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