The French Canal Project
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
France. The country of style, fashion and love. It's a place known for its croissants, crepes and macarons, and where wine, champagne, cheese, and baguettes are the daily staples on the shopping list. It's a country with castles, fields of lavender and sunflowers. France is a stunningly attractive proposition with mountains in the south and east and coastlines to the west and south.
Many people don't know that there is a network of canals that covers most of the country and extends into Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. These canals wind their way through the countryside, occasionally passing through larger towns. They pass through all the leading wine and champagne regions and Paris itself. The canals are well set up with lock-keepers to run the locks. Wineries along the canals have docks so that you can call in, do a tasting and make a purchase. Restaurants and cafes have been set up along the canals for the convenience of boat travellers.
You can rent a canal boat and have a go at this yourself for a price. I've done it a few times, and it really is the best holiday there is. You can park where you want on the canals, so if you come around a corner to a stunning view, you can just tie up and spend the day and night there. And if you need supplies, there's always some little village within walking or bike riding distance that you can whip into and pick up fresh produce from the market and bread from the boulangerie.
My plan is to buy a canal boat and do this for six months of the year. The boat would be around 20m long, have two staterooms with ensuites, a quiet generator, air conditioning and, of course, a fine coffee machine. "Six months?" I hear you thinking? "That's a long time on a boat." Remember, it's a very well set up boat, and quite large, oh and the view is constantly changing. But there would also be bikes onboard for a daily explore. I plan to take my paraglider as well and take excursions to have a fly now and then.
The boat would be around this size and style.
The boat would need modifications, of course. Most canal boats fly the flag of the country of origin of their crew. It's not uncommon to see the Kiwi flag on boats as you pass, and everyone gives a bit of a cheer. It's just as common to see the Aussie' boxing kangaroo' flag on canal boats. And for this reason, I would install a slingshot on the boat capable of firing water balloons up to 50m. It's a necessity, and I'm sure you understand. Then after a short war, we could all park up on the side of the canal and improve international relations by swapping gifts of wine and cheese. The hardest part would be reverting from French to slow English for the Aussies.
There would also be a car. Not a flash one, but good enough to get around in comfort. I'd move it along with the boat by riding my bike to pick it up. So anytime I needed a break from the boat, I could go for a drive to explore further afield. Once in a while, it would be an option to catch a train or fly somewhere like Berlin for a few days or maybe to Positano and Capri for a week. The possibilities are endless.
As an aspiring author, I reckon that writing from a canal boat would be very therapeutic and productive. The canal boat experience itself would be something to write about even if I ran out of other ideas. Life itself is a rich source of content for a writer.
I'm not a natural at languages. I was almost fluent in Japanese a while back, but that's mostly leaked out of my head. Fortunately, I did three years of French at college and have been relearning it for almost two years now, so it shouldn't take too long to get right into the swing of things once I get there.
So that’s the canal project. It’s bound to happen sooner rather than later depending on covid.
When it does, venez visiter un peu. Avoir une bouteille de vin ou deux et du fromage. Passez une bonne journée.
Check out the rest of my author page at www.burfoot.net