(Contains advertisement for houseboat Nicols) Renting a houseboat and cruising comfortably on the Alsace canals in France for three days - that's what we experienced in June. On board were my friend Carsten, our dog Buddy and me. I'll tell you in this article of our first houseboat vacation, share our experiences and tips with you. So that your boat holidays also succeed smoothly.
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Our houseboat holidays with dog in Alsace (France)
I've been dreaming of going houseboat holidays for a long time: relaxing on the slow drive through nature, taking spontaneous turns, walking with Buddy, cycling, exploring towns and villages, having breakfast in the sunshine and evenings to drink a wine with Carsten.
In June we started with the French houseboat provider Nicols in Alsace. Incidentally, France ranks first in houseboat rentals in Europe.
The Nicols houseboats can be booked in Germany, Holland, France or Portugal . They use 30,000 passengers a year, 80 percent as we did for the first time.
Here you will find more information on the boat holiday in Alsace , the prices and availabilities on the Nicols website.
Rent a houseboat without a license
For our trip to France we did not need a boat license - on the website you will find more information . We were curious as to whether it would be easy for us to start as a beginner.
Our houseboat "Obernai" was a Confort 900 DP , with a length of 8.85 meters and this equipment :
- 2 Bedrooms
- 2 bathrooms
- Lounge with table
- 3 sun terraces, one with a table
- Tax inside and outside
- Side entrance and entrance to the rear
Some Instagramfollower were surprised how our houseboat looked. They had rather a fixed boat in hut form in the head.
With our boat we could drive on canals and rivers, at the same time we had our accommodation here. It was a bit like when I used to travel by car with my family.
Our houseboat: exterior and interior view
The houseboat Confort 900 DP was quite spacious inside. And much larger than it seemed from the outside.
Practically, because we are all three big: Carsten 1.87 meters, me 1.80 meters and Buddy over 60 centimeters. Mostly we humans could stand upright.
We had the tariff "all inclusive" . It contained fuel, 2 bikes, river map, bath towels, dish towels and final cleaning.
The right clothes for the houseboat vacation
Important are definitely:
- non-slip shoes
- in the sun: sunglasses and headgear
- a weatherproof jacket
- Possibly. Gloves for the ropes
Good thing we had a boat with two bedrooms for the boat holiday in Alsace . So we could use a room as storage space and lay our suitcases on the bed.
Otherwise, you should bring your clothes in a collapsible travel bag . So you can easily stow them.
To hang there were several hangers in two corners.
Kitchen and lounge of our houseboat
Our boat Confort 900 DP had a sink, fridge, freezer, stove and oven.
It was also equipped with kitchen accessories : plates, cutlery, cups, cereal bowls, drinking glasses, wine glasses, baking dish, salad bowls, matches, tea kettle, coffee pot, pots and pans.
You can bring tea towels and towels from home . Or borrow from Nicols for a fee.
Food sun on the houseboat
I especially like breakfast on the boat, with croissants and baguette. In addition delicious cheese or orange jam.
But also during the day the sundecks were great to read, to listen to music or to sunbathe.
Sleeping showering on board
The boats have air conditioning depending on the model. Not ours. But that did not matter, as we often stayed during the day under a parasol (also on board) and let ourselves be refreshed by the wind.
At night, the temperatures cooled down pleasantly , so I slept well in the bedroom.
At the top you can see one of the bedrooms, a couple and a child can sleep there.
The shower was clever: The faucet was also the pull-out shower head. So we showered in the bathroom in front of the sink, the water ran down. This worked amazingly well and the water was nice and warm.
Rent houseboat with dog - our experiences
We were happy that the houseboat with dog was not a problem (additional costs: 40 Euro). I had only a little hesitation, because Buddy does not tolerate heat well and needs a lot of exercise. But it worked very well!
Quite a lot we took for him, here you will find the packing list vacation with dog . A life jacket for the dog with handle is as helpful as a self-cooling mat .
We always saw that Buddy was in the shade and cooled by the mat. There was always enough water ready for him.
When we drove through a lock , he came into the living room . Because otherwise he has the habit to run us between the legs and curious to put his nose in really everything.
He shivered a lot during the first lock, disturbed by the unfamiliar sounds and swings. But he quickly got used to the locks.
When he docked he came on a leash. Because as soon as he saw a duck or another dog, there would have been no stopping for him.
In the morning and in the evening we went for a long walk with him, when it was not so hot.
More information about the houseboat Holidays with pets are available on the Nicols website .
Start and end point: Saverne (Zabern) in Alsace
The houseboat for the boat holiday in Alsace was taken on Saturday after 4 pm in Saverne, about 40 kilometers from Strasbourg.
We had previously read the documents and the logbook .
An employee gave us a briefing in German . So we learned how we could steer the boat and thus pass locks.
Then he went with us on a first trip , while he passed with us a lock . Extremely helpful! Because that took us as a beginner a bit of our uncertainty.
First day in Saverne
The night we spent in Saverne, to start the next day in our boat holiday in Alsace .
Because driving is only allowed until sunset . Already before that closed at 6 pm the locks on this Sunday. And since there are many locks on the route, the journey for the day is over.
Saverne is very pretty and works well if you want to spend some time. When we arrived there was just a craft market along the canal.
Our stuff from the car we brought on board. And we could park our car during the houseboat holidays on one of the free parking lots .
Then we went for a walk with Buddy and bought in one of the supermarkets . What we brought from home or bought:
- Baguette and croissants
- Ingredients for lunch and dinner
- Drinking water (the water on board we used only for showering, brushing and washing dishes)
- Wine for the evening
- Dish soap and brush
- trash bags
- Toilet paper
- suntan lotion
- Insect repellent
In the evening we took the opportunity to eat pizza in town (vegetarian for me) and try one of the many ice cream parlors. There followed a beautiful sunset, which we followed from on board.
Is it hard to control the houseboat?
Something excited we started on Sunday. To steer the houseboat, we had to practice first.
Because it reacted much more cumbersome than a car on the steering. And instead of a brake, there was reverse. Fortunately, on the sides, the boat had Fender (protective body).
We started in the middle of the canal . Only when other ships approached us did we turn to the right.
Carsten and I took turns at the wheel. Above all, we used the outside tax, because then we could sit in the sun and from the elevated point of view had a better overview.
By the way, we were traveling slowly. On French canals and rivers only 8 km / h are allowed. The motor of our houseboat was throttled, we could not drive faster.
For more information about your first houseboat trip, visit the Nicols website .
Locks: Pleasant change during houseboat holidays
Sluices ("écluse" in French) there were some on our route towards Réchicourt-le-Château. We could have gone to Strasbourg, but we already knew the city.
The locks are free. They only cost time. When planning the route you have to calculate not only the travel time but also the lock time.
Very exciting was our first lock in Saverne. The traffic lights there indicated red. We had to wait until the ships came out of the lock. Then we drove in with green.
We put in the narrow opening, left and right, the side walls towered. At the front and the back (at the bow and stern) we attached the boat to handles in the wall. The ropes were loosely striped (not knotted) in one loop and then tightened.
So we could adjust them, after the floodgate had closed, the water rose and with it the boat. It was kept in position by it.
We had a map with a route, on which all locks were marked. Of these, there are different varieties, such as automated or with lockkeeper.
On the way on the canal
Then we drove on, through nature. On the towpaths next to the canal were already running joggers or we saw cyclists. And we overtook a swan family with their offspring.
On the way we could put on our houseboat holidays in Alsace " wild" or moor at one of the ports .
How the creation worked? Carsten drove slowly up. With a boat hook I put a loop around the bollard, for the front part of the boat. Then followed the rope for the back, Carsten took over.
Only when the boat was secured, we went ashore and closed behind us.
Ports for electricity, water and food
In the main port of Lutzelbourg there was electricity, water, supermarket, bakery and restaurant for us. We were also able to dispose of our waste here.
We threw a 2 euro coin in the machine . That gave us three hours of electricity for the boat and fifteen minutes of water .
The return of the houseboat we had at 9 o'clock in the morning. Therefore, we drove the day before until 18 o'clock in the evening in the port of Saverne.
My conclusion to the houseboat holiday France
It was nice to explore one of my favorite destinations in Europe from the water during the boat holiday in Alsace . Carsten, Buddy and I spent a nice time in threes. I especially liked the breakfast with croissants and baguettes, the walks with Buddy and the evening mood on the houseboat. A tip: It is best to plan for longer than three days. Because we needed a little time to get used to the controls and locks. We met another couple, with whom we passed several locks. They had been traveling for two weeks and everything was well recorded.
Houseboat holidays without a driver's license - would you like to try this?
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