Saturday 16 July 2011

Edward Hutchins is coming to Europe this autumn and wants to row the French canals, but needs to know more.
Giacomo de Stefano, the man on the river, has just passed through the French canal system on his voyage from England to Italy, as this video shows. Love the music - more Star Wars than Wind in the Willows. There is a lot of narrative on Giacomo's blog
Brian Anderson, an American in Europe, has done a good deal of paddling on the rivers and canals and wrote about some of his trips in Duckworks Magazine. He is also, by the way, the editor of a lovely collection of writing about boats, Small Boats on Green Waters (available on Amazon - if you haven't got a copy, buy it now!).
Edward writes:
I have a query of sorts. I have read your blog for sometime, which I find very interesting.
I was hoping you might have some information on rowing in the French canals as I am currently planning a trip with my girlfriend to France with the hope of going down either the Canal du Midi or the Bourgogne. However coming from New Zealand we are having a bit of trouble finding a boat.  We had planned to row a dingy or skiff during the day and either camp or stay in hotels or hostels at night. We both have two weeks off work this September and are keen as mustard on the idea.
Any information you might have in regards to buying or hiring a boat, or suggestions on the choice of waterway would be very much appreciated.
Kind Regards
Edward Hutchins
Christchurch, New Zealand

Has anyone any advice and wisdom to pass on to him?


Chris Waite said...

Ruthie and I have done the Canal du Midi in our big old gaffer, but it was a long time ago - 1986.

Anyone would be welcome to 'Octavia'; possible, though you would probably want something more substantial.

It was just lovely

Christo the W

Patrick Hay said...

I've searched but haven't been able to find any rowing boat hirers on the Canal du Midi.

In general French waterways can be navigated in rowing boats or canoes without any special permission or licences. All boats under 4m long, that are "moved exclusively by human energy" (rowed, poled or paddled), are exempt from registration but larger boats and boats with engines, even electric outboards, may be subject to registration, and regulations on their use.

ToneS said...

Just a comment on the story - there's a whole load of information (as well as interviews, photos etc) about rowing the rivers in northern France.

The boat and various crew (under the main man Giacomo de Stefano) are destined for Istanbul, all being well after a false start from London in May 2010. It is worth jumping back 10 - 12 pages (add them to the URL eg to read the earlier history and research they did and mistakes they made.

Very full, entertaining and inspiring.