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Travel in France





River boat rental: a unique way to explore France

Interview with Alfred Carignant, Administrator of French Nautical Industries Federation


Rédigé par Saliha Hadj-Djilani translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 19 Septembre 2016

River boat rentals are becoming more and more popular in France. To better understand this phenomenon in the tourism industry, we interviewed Alfred Carignant, Administrator of the French Nautical Industries Federation.



TourMaG.com: Why are river boat rentals a more unique way of discovering France?

Alfred Carignant: “First of all, getting a foot on a boat is a guaranteed new experience, a feeling of change, rupture: vacations.

Then, it follows a different rhythm, a slow rhythm and yet it is not only about lounging around, it is the slowest active vacation.

It is also a means a way to gather with the family or among friends in complete intimacy and conviviality. (2 to 12 people, maybe more by renting several boats.)

This type of tourism is very different from mass tourism, as it enables to explore the territory and the most unsuspected diversity of the French terroir.

Finally, it is one of the last forms of freedom allowing to dock at the heart of nature away from adapted stops, in complete freedom and communion with nature.”

TourMaG.com: Which regions are particularly ideal for this type of visit, and why?

A.C.: France has an incredible network, some regions are more famous such as the Canal du midi, Bourgogne, and Alsace. Others, more intimate, have lots of advantages, such as the Lot, Charente, Aquitaine, Sarthe, Mayenne and Bretagne. We distinguish between navigating in rivers and rivers that flow into oceans, or from navigation on canals where it is possible to make unlimited stops.

TourMaG.com: Are there specific sites that can only be seen from rivers?

A.C.: “Yes, clearly, such as the Collancelle vaults on the nivernais canal that are only accessible by boat.

Furthermore, the discovery of a landscape from a boat is radically different than exploring it by foot or biking…from the shore.”

TourMaG.com: How are the nautical industries doing today? Particularly river boat rentals?

A.C.: “After several difficult years, the French nautical branch is finally growing again.

Here are a few figures on French sailing in 2014-2015…

France is a world leader in sailing, airboats and the 4th producer of motor boats.

The economy of the industry and its nautical services in numbers is:

- 5 309 companies

- 30 categories of companies

- 40 022 employees

- 4,43 billion euros in total revenues

- 41,745 boats produced representing revenues of 831,34 millions euros of which 76,8% are sold in export markets

Boat amenities are:

+ de 400 marinas

- for 252,000 spots in harbors

- nearly 40 dry ports for over 11 000 spots

Today, the figures for nautical practice are as follows:

- 9 million occasional people practicing it

- 4 million regular boats

- 11,757 new matriculations: 74% motorboats and 49.5% boats under 6 meters

- 63,569 ownership transfers: 79.8% motorboats and 63% boats under 6 meters

- More than 1,000 sailing schools

- More than 200 school ships

- 87,790 pleasure craft licences issued

As for river boat rentals, the activity is progressing, and has been for several years now. The clientele is mostly foreign (70%). This product is booming and enables to seduce a different type of clientele.”

TourMaG.com: What are some major projects in terms of river boat rentals?

A.C.: “Renters work a lot on modernizing the fleet. This year, two renters are introducing two new boat models: LaPéniche (15 meters) and Horizon (11 meters). Other innovations are in store.”

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