26 October 2016

Barge Living - Off to Search for a Canal Boat in France

We're going to France.
To look for a BOAT.

Kyanna is for sale - but at 24m, probably too big for us.

Squid fishermen? This is probably NOT the kind of boat we're looking for.
A canal boat. One big enough to live on, at least for a while.

This one is in England - they have lots of narrow canals there. 

Canals stretch all over Europe. Rivers, too.
-You can cruise from one end of France right up to Berlin - on canals!

I know it's kind of a weird idea.

But ever since we rented canal boats, I keep thinking what a great lifestyle it is.
Floating through the villages and towns, at the pace of a walking horse.

Since canals are flat, bicycling is easy. 
Every canal has a towpath beside it.

We'll have bicycles on the boat. 
Ride into villages.

Stan off for a morning baguette. Maybe two. Those are BIG barges moored on the left.

Visit French markets for boat groceries.

 It's mobile - and it's slow. 
You can stop anywhere, moor along the bank.
Just pound a couple of stakes into the ground and tie up.
- Or - just keep going.

This is one of the boats we rented - on the Canal Du Midi.
The rental boats are great - practical, and luckily, somewhat indestructible. 

It looks ENORMOUS, but - that's only 15m!

Apparently, we aren't the first ones to think of this. 
There are all sorts of wanderers, living aboard barges all over Europe.
Some live right in the middle of Paris and in London - inexpensive housing in pricey cities.

Others are a sort of international floating community. 
We've met a few liveaboards, and they all seem to enjoy it.

This one is a luxury vacation boat. Ours will NOT be this fancy!
So: Stan's been busy learning French. 

We're both reading the boating regulations to pass the tests. 
Since we already have our sailing licenses, and coastal cruising certifications, it's just a matter of taking the inland waterways test. (Unfortunately, I think it's in French.)

The kids monitor our progress as we go under a low stone bridge.
So this boat has to be low enough to fit under small bridges.
And narrow enough, too.
And not too deep, for canals.

The canals are filled with locks - the canal system dates back to the 1600's. Usually, there's a lock keeper.
I made a spreadsheet (of course) of all of our top choices - and I'm keeping it updated.

With a list of "must have" and "would like to have" items.
- Some even have wood-burning stoves!

These are all boats we've investigated. All for sale, at a surprisingly wide range of prices. 

Some of the barges are over a century old. 
They were used to haul commercial goods, and recently have been converted into pleasure boats.

A lot of them are REALLY long - up to 38m! 
We're trying to find a one closer to 15m - still a BIG boat - about 50 feet.

On a boat, you always need "duck bread" - otherwise known as old stale baguettes. 

So, as it stands now, we'd be spending most of our time on a converted barge. 
Mostly in France. But - who knows? I'll let you know what happens - in November!

(Rumor has it the wine's not bad, either.)

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