It’s no secret. Multigenerational holidays are becoming ever-more popular. As our lives become busier and it becomes more difficult for families to spend quality time together, big family holidays across the generations become more and more important.
Going on holiday with the whole family – the kids and grandchildren included – can be a truly rewarding break, but as every grandparent knows, choosing a family holiday to suit all tastes can be tricky! One type of holiday however that really does have something for everyone is a boating holiday – exploring France’s beautiful canals, lakes and rivers onboard your own self-drive canal boat.
The great thing about a boating holiday is that everyone can participate in the fun of navigation. There’s a role for everyone on board from steering and map reading to helping with manoeuvres through locks and mooring up. Kids can get involved by helping as part of the crew while the adults on board can take turns at being Captain and First Mate!
Silver Travel Advisor asked France’s best-loved boating holiday provider Nicols for their top three destinations for a family boating holiday and this is what they recommended…
1. Crusader castles and sand castles in Camargue
A boating holiday in the sun-bathed region of the Camargue is a perfect mixture of beach fun, cruising and cultural trips to medieval walled Crusader towns.
You can imagine the past as you approach fortress seaport cities like Aigues-Mortes and Sète while beach resorts at Mèze, Palavas-les-Flots and la Grande-Motte with their abundance of watersports and amusements, the waterpark near Agde and the aquarium and dinosaur park at Le Cap d’Adge bring you back to today!
This region of France is also perfect for wildlife loving families. In addition to the famous bulls and white horses found in Camargue, the region is home to a wide species of birds…and your boat gives you the perfect vantage point for spotting them. The Scamandre Pond is a huge protected nature reserve where you’ll likely see species such as Geese, Black Ibis, Herons, Flamingos and many more.
2. “All for one and one for all” in Aquitaine
In the Aquitaine your boating holiday provides access to numerous attractions and activities for the whole crew – both young and old.
Travelling by canal boat isn’t the only fun way to travel here. During the months of April to October there is small tourist train that runs between the pretty medieval cities of Nérac and Mezin. This tour is a great way to see the area and experience the second longest tunnel in France (for a tourist train!) which stands at 1,237 metres long.
If you’re looking for ideas to tire out the younger members of the crew then there are ideas both in and out of the water. In the heart of the forest at Montech is Agrip’Aventure, a tree-top style assault course with more than 120 obstacles suitable for anyone above the age of three! For swimming and fun in the water you have Lud’o Parc in Nérac with its large play pool, water slides, bubble benches, water games, rocky lagoon – all in the style of Roman ruins, or Aqualand in Agen which has a huge 1,600 square metre wave pool with numerous water slides, one of which is 20 metres high!
Lastly, you can’t be in Aquitaine and not think of D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers. In Condom, at Saint Peter’s Square you can find an imposing bronze statue of the famous Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan so young readers or viewers of the stories can meet their heroes! Take part in a musketeers themed treasure hunt across the city with a guided tour and riddles for the whole family to solve.
3. Terra-rific experiences in Anjou
The Anjou region completes our top three suggestions for a family boating holiday. In Sablé sur Sarthe is Espace Henri Royer, a water themed leisure park with splash pools, fun pools and activities such as pedalo hire, canoeing and paddle boarding.
If assault course challenges are your thing then at the Anjou Sport Nature centre in La Jaille Yvon you can take part in both a tree-top course or an inflatables course on an area of 1,400 square metres of water.
There are two excellent wildlife parks in the Anjou region – Refuge de L’arche in Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne which has rescued hundreds of exotic animals from circuses, laboratories and trafficking, and Spaycific Zoo in Spay who care for a wide range of mammals, birds and reptiles.
The must-see attraction however has to be Terra Botanica in Angers. This unique theme park focuses on the secrets and history of plant life, showcased through five different worlds. Visitors can enjoy exciting trails and mazes, ride on displays, 4D cinema and virtual reality experiences and much more.
Your floating home-from-home
A boating holiday is an adventure where your accommodation goes with you and living on board a boat for your holidays is fun whatever your age. What’s more, no previous boating experience or a licence is needed – the boats are easy to steer and the helpful Nicols base staff will show you around your boat on arrival before heading out with you onto the waterways for a demonstration of how to drive and the rules of navigation. Within 45 minutes you’ll be ready to captain your very own canal boat!
The Nicols fleet is one of the safest on the market – particularly when it comes to accommodating crews with children and/or people with reduced mobility. Boats are available to suit all budgets and party sizes from two to twelve people and flexible durations mean that itineraries are available for short-breaks, one-week holidays or longer stays.
Nicols canal boats have all the home-from-home comforts you’d expect including a spacious saloon, comfortable cabins, modern bathroom facilities and fully-equipped kitchen. Most also have an upper sundeck, rear sun terrace or sometimes both – perfect for sunbathing, enjoying the changing views and dining alfresco. Did you know you can even have onboard wifi – something vital on any holiday with kids!
Lastly, the heated splash pool (an exclusive to Nicols) that can be added to the majority of Nicols boats is also a particular favourite with families. It allows small children to safely play in warm filtered water so is a particular favourite with families. Sliding covers mean that when not in use the splash pool is both safe and a useful additional deck.
For more information call the friendly Nicols team on 02392 401320 or visit www.boat-renting-nicols.co.uk.