Self drive barges come in various sizes ranging from accommodation for 2 to 12 people on board. Whether you are travelling as a couple, a family or with friends, you will be able to rent a boat that’s just right for your vacation on the Anjou, Mayenne, and Sarthe rivers.
Which licence-free riverboat can I rent?
You can choose between several kinds of self drive barges with engines. Each vessel has at least one steering position, a double cabin, a fully equipped kitchen area, a shower and toilets.
From the pénichette (a traditional French barge) to an electric boat, there are around 20 models available, offering varying degrees of comfort. There are vessels with a double steering position, several individual cabins, decks at the front and back, TV or even deck furniture including a barbecue! You will also be able to rent bikes and fishing gear.
After having received a brief introduction of around 30 to 45 minutes into riverboating by the rental company, taking charge of a licence-free self drive barge will be child’s play. No experience needed, only the desire to be carried along by the river and to discover along the route countless morsels picked up in the countryside along the rivers Anjou, Sarthe and Mayenne.
Selecting the starting base on the Rivers of Western France
There are three possible starting bases for your touring holidays by boat on the Rivers of Western France: at Sablé-sur-Sarthe, Grez-Neuville and Chenillé-Changé.
Sablé-sur-Sarthe, the main river port
Located between Angers and Le Mans, the base at Sablé-sur-Sarthe is the ideal starting point for visiting the river Sarthe valley. The port is situated at the heart of the town between the castle Colbert de Torcy and the Notre-Dame church. A high-speed railway station is located at 800 m (0.5 mi) from the port.
Grez-Neuville, the closest to the four navigable rivers
Located 25 km (15 mi) north of Angers, the pretty village of Grez-Neuville is home to a small river port on the towpath of the Mayenne river. Situated at the confluence of the four navigable rivers, it offers countless itineraries.
Chenillé-Changé, a charming village nestled on the banks of the river Mayenne
Located between Laval and Angers, Chenillé-Changé is the best starting point for a river cruise on the Mayenne river. The village is snuggled into a hillside with its shale buildings surrounded by lush vegetation.
Recreational boating rental agencies
There are two agencies offering rental of river self drive barges : Anjou Navigation and Les Canalous.
Anjou Navigation, based in Sablé-sur-Sarthe et Grez-Neuville, is a member of the Nicols network (a self drive bargeing company). The agency has been offering licence-free boat hire for over 40 years. Its fleet consists of more than 35 riverboats available for rent.
Based in Chenillé-Changé on the river Mayenne, Les Canalous not only rents out riverboats – it also constructs them. The company offers 6 levels of comfort ranging from affordable to premium quality as well as electric boats.
How much do I need to budget for renting a river self drive barge?
Prices vary according to the model of boat, the rental period, and the time of year. Budget at least around 1,500 euros per week for a boat housing 4 to 6 people during the middle season.