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Waterways Charts, Guides and Pilot Books – Good Guidance for Cruising in France
Afloat in France, a comprehensive information website about pleasure boating, launches its key publication collection of helpful charts, guides and pilot books this month, covering the 8000 km of navigable French rivers and canals.
There are currently three (3) series of authoritative chart-guides that cover the French canals and rivers – published by Breil, Fluviacarte and Vagnon/Chagnon, commonly known as Pilot books. Each guide provides a map of the subject river or canal, kilometre by kilometre, with information in French, English and German. Key facts that all boat users should know, whether holidaying in a hire boat or exploring the river and canals for a longer period in your own vessel, are included: lock width, rise, number of chambers; bridge air draft and depth, the main delights and facilities within towns and villages; and what you can expect at the moorings.
Nick Strong, seasoned waterways cruiser and compiler of the collection at Tagweb’s freshly re-vamped website for the French waterways commented: “Delightful as the waterways are, there are many more treasures in the surrounding area that you can float straight past without noticing unless you have a decent guidebook with you. Many newbies fail to realize that there are very few ‘roadsigns’
There are safety issues too, since unlike in the UK, many of France’s major rivers and canals, the Seine and the Rhone in particular, still carry considerable commercial traffic which has precedence over the locks and deep channels. It’s as well for leisure craft to have advance warning about how and when to mix it with cargo barges.
Mr Strong’s website also lists well-known and lesser known books to flesh out the historical background to landmarks and features along the routes, and describe the typical adventures and ambience of living aboard. Enjoyable publications by Hugh McKnight, David Jefferson and Marion Martin all feature here to provide extra insight, and the essential RYA guide will help the prospective cruiser to understand the ICC regulations and the necessary practicalities.
Whilst much of boating is common sense, if you’ve not grown up next to the water, some things just aren’t instinctive, suggested Mr Strong. Moving along the canal may appear to be very like boating on the local lake, but once you’re in a lock, especially rising on the Canal du Midi, for example, it’s a different experience altogether. It’s a good idea to know how to use a rope effectively before you really need to. Reading up about your trip and being prepared gets you involved, adds quality and turns your holiday into a great life-experience, he explained.
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About Afloat in France: A comprehensive introduction and information site for cruising the French waterways. Topics include routes and navigation, boating practicalities and technical issues, sites and places to visit and the experience of life aboard. Also includes hundreds of photos, a video, and links to services and hiring and boat sales. http://www.tagweb.co.uk/