Canal side-walks are being prescribed by doctors to help people deal with depression and stress. So, ditch the work stress and take a riverboat cruise along France’s extensive canal network.
Whether it is the sound of gently running water or the lush French countryside, waterways seem to have a calming influence. Check out these calming cruise locations to ease the stress of your work week, courtesy of Le Boat:
Canal du Midi
The number one destination for Australians who visit France, the Canal du Midi was built in the 17th century and made a UNESCO heritage site in 1996. Flanked by canopies of plane trees, this incredible feat of engineering connects the Altlantic to the Mediterranean, along the foothills of the Pyrénneés mountains. Navigation is in three sections; the Canal du Midi (70 locks), the Lateral Canal to the Garonne (53 locks) and the Garonne (2 locks). A visit to the historic walled cité Carcassonne is a must.
Canal de Bourgogne
This canal provides a north-south route between the Seine and Rhone. It is the highest canal in France and passes through 189 locks, as well as a long tunnel in Pouilly-en-Auxois. As you meander along you will find many fine examples of churches, castles and bridges to admire. Take your pick of vineyards where you can take a tour behind the scenes and select a bottle to enjoy with a local cheese, such as the pungent Epoisses de Bourgogne.
Canal de Roanne à Digion
Linking the Canal Latéral à la Loire and the Canal du Centre at Digoin to Roanne, is the Canal de Roanne à Digion. It has ten locks and is considered a calm route, ideal for the inaugural self-drive boating holiday. The towpath that runs alongside the canal is ideal for cycling when you get the urge to stretch your legs. The Château de Roanne is a highlight of this route along with the three Michelin starred La Maison Troisgros.
Canal du Nivernais
This canal is the favoured among wildlife spotters with the many species of birds one can see along the way. Herons and Kingfishers are two of the more prolific sightings you will find. Like the other canals, you will pass through the stereotypic gorgeous French countryside and villages which combines leafy trees and open fields.