We were three days as a bloody beginner on the Mayenne on the houseboat and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The Mayenne is a river in the Pays de la Loire not far from the border with Normandy and Brittany and flows into the Loire at Angers. It is one of the rivers in Francethat beginners can drive without a boat license. But you shouldn't go to the Loire, because there it is strictly forbidden to drive boats without a license. We took over our boat in the small town of Daon, and there we were advised to go north. There are a few things to consider when you are on a houseboat for the first time. Here are ours
16 tips for beginners on a houseboat tour on the Mayenne
- The Mayenne you can drive without a license. At first you may be a bit unsure, but with a little practice, you can get along well on this river. And after the first lock, dealing with these obstacles becomes easier and easier. Practice creates masters!
- At the briefing the traffic signs on the river are explained to us. They help us to navigate the river properly and avoid too low bridges or rocks on the shore.
- At the locks of the Mayenne, lockkeepers provide their service between 9.00 in the morning and 19.00 in the evening and open and close the locks. If you have any questions, you are welcome and ready to help.
- The daily routine of the lockkeeper also determines the day of houseboat tourists. From 12.30 to 13.30 pm is lunch time, which we also used for our lunch. Sometimes it did not work out with the planned lunch break in the restaurant, so we had to improvise our lunch on the way again and again.
- On most locks, you can fill up the water tank, which is big but does not hold enough water to last for six people during the entire trip. We filled up our tank either with the Schleusendurchfahrt or at special moorings with water.
- There is no power connection for rechargeable devices on board. This only works if power connections are available at the berths, and these are rare. We bought a USB stick as a converter on 12 V to charge at least our mobile phones.
- Wi-Fi is only available at a few places along the route. This can be very relaxing, if you are otherwise constantly working on the computer.
- Flexibility is necessary because as a newcomer it is difficult to estimate what is needed.
- Make sure you have enough time for shopping and take enough for the whole trip, otherwise you may end up having to go shopping again because not all the restaurants listed on the river map are open.
- The best places to shop along the route are Château-Gontier and Laval, two larger towns with shops, supermarkets, restaurants, historic buildings, beautiful parks and attractions.
- Choose a slightly larger boat than recommended for the number of participants. So everyone has the opportunity to retire and have time for themselves.
- Take only small luggage. If our cabin had been fully occupied, we would not have been able to accommodate the luggage.
- We had two showers on the "Gabrielle", one with a toilet, a separate toilet and a sink in each cabin. The showers work well, only they are not as big as you are used to at home. The toilets require special handling that you should pay attention to, otherwise it can be expensive. If they are blocked, the technician has to come and repair them.
- Inform yourself before the trip about the sights along the route. These are not announced on the way and are not signposted along the river, unless you get off at each lock and read the information boards. The information is also in the river log that you carry on board, but on the way you usually have other things to do than to study this in detail, especially if you're traveling in a group.
- If you travel with a group, leave enough time for your own activities. There are, for example, opportunities for cycling along the Mayenne. Between Daon and Laval, the bike path always runs along the river, so that fellow passengers can do well part of the tour ashore and reach the boat at one of the locks. Or you pick out the points in the places along the route that interest you most and use the stay there to explore them more closely.
- On a houseboat tour, help on board is essential. After just one day, we were a well-rehearsed team, each with a specific job: Petar and JP took the helm, the four ladies of our travel blog crew shared cooking, washing and tablecloths. In this way, we did the necessary work in the team and each contributed something to the general tasks.
More tips for houseboat travelers
With these tips we could enjoy the three days on the Mayenne and have experienced an exciting and exciting houseboat trip through the west of the Pays de la Loire. Our first houseboat trip was so much fun. Maybe they will help you to spend a nice houseboat vacation yourself. And maybe you have more tips that you want to leave us in the comments. We are happy about it.
Filmed impressions of our boat trip on the Mayenne can be found here:
By houseboat on the Mayenne in France
Gudrun Krinzinger wrote a great report about a houseboat trip on the Canal du Midi in France:
Rain and storm on the Canal du Midi
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Source: own research on site. We would like to thank Tourisme Mayenne for the friendly invitation to this trip. Our opinion remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline