Houseboat tips for beginners

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Houseboat tips for beginners

If you want to rent a houseboat, you should know these houseboat tips for beginners. 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 France, which beginners can navigate without a boat license. The only thing you shouldn't do is go to the Loire, because boating without a license is strictly forbidden there. We picked up our boat in the small town of Daon, and it was there that we were advised to head north. There are a few things to consider when traveling on a houseboat for the first time. Our houseboat tips and tricks for beginners should help you on your journey.


By houseboat under the bridges of Château-Gontier

With the houseboat under the bridges of Château-Gontier - Enjoy - Houseboat tips and tricks for beginnersHere are ours

16 houseboat tips for beginners

Houseboat tips for on the go

  1. You can navigate the Mayenne without a license. Houseboat Tips : It may be a bit shaky at first, but with a little practice you can get by on this river. And after the first lock, dealing with these obstacles becomes easier and easier. Practice creates masters!
  2. During the briefing, the traffic signs on the river are explained to us. They will help us navigate the river correctly, avoiding bridges that are too low or rocks on the bank. Houseboat tips: study the route map carefully.
  3. At the Mayenne locks, lock-keepers are on duty between 9.00 am and 19.00 pm, opening and closing the locks. If you have any questions, they will be happy to help you. Houseboat tips: just ask if you want to know something.
  4. The daily routine of the lock keeper also determines the day of the houseboat tourists. From 12.30 p.m. to 13.30 p.m. is lunch break, which we also used for our lunch. Sometimes the lunch break in the restaurant didn't work out, so we had to improvise our lunches on the way. Houseboat tips: enough shopping for the whole tour.
  5. At most locks you can fill up the water tank, which is large but does not hold enough water to shower and cook for six people throughout the trip. We filled our tank with water either when passing through the locks or at special piers. Houseboat tips: it is better to refill water more often than not to be on the road.

Houseboat Tips: Electricity and WiFi

  1. There is no power connection for rechargeable devices on board. This only works if there are power connections at the berths, and those are rare. We bought a USB stick as a 12 V converter so that we could at least charge our mobile phones. Houseboat Tips: Clarify power connections before the trip.
  2. WiFi is only available in a few places along the route. This can be very relaxing if you usually work on the computer all the time. Houseboat tips: count on digital detox.


  1. Flexibility is necessary because as a newcomer it is difficult to estimate what is needed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Houseboat tips and tricks for the crew: Plan enough space

  1. Choose a slightly larger boat than recommended for the number of participants. So everyone has the opportunity to retire and have time for themselves.
  2. Take only small luggage. If our cabin had been fully occupied, we would not have been able to accommodate the luggage.
  3. 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.

Plan route

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

help on board

  1. On a houseboat tour, assistance on board is essential. After just one day, we were a well-established team, with each of us completing certain tasks: Petar and JP took over the helm, the four ladies of our travel blogger crew shared the cooking, washing up and tablecloths. That way we did the work as a team and everyone contributed to the tasks.



Cabin aboard the Gabrielle
Cabin on board the Gabrielle - The crew must understand each other - Houseboat tips
Our bathroom - houseboat tips and tricks
Our bathroom - showers throughout the day - one of our houseboat tips
The galley - houseboat tips and tricks
The galley is only big enough for 1-2 people - houseboat tips
Houseboat tips and tricks for beginners - our breakfast table
Our breakfast table - everyone helps set the table - one of our houseboat tips


With these houseboat tips we were able to enjoy the three days on the Mayenne and experienced an eventful and exciting houseboat trip through the west of the Pays de la Loire. We had so much fun on our first houseboat trip. Maybe they will help you to spend a nice houseboat holiday yourself. And maybe you have other tips that you want to leave us in the comments. We are happy about it.

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 houseboat tips for beginners : research on site. We thank Tourisme Mayenne for inviting us to this trip. Our opinion remains our own.

Text houseboat tips for beginners : © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Houseboat tips for beginners

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Slow Travel and Enjoyment travel blog TravelWorldOnline Traveller. You have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Your topics are Trips to Savor and wine tourism worldwide and Slow Travel. During her studies, Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she traveled to the USA and Canada - sometimes together with Petar Fuchs - and spent a research year in British Columbia. This strengthened her thirst for knowledge, which she pursued for 6 years Adventure Guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as Study tour guide for Studiosus Reisen tried to breastfeed all over the world. She constantly expanded her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: “What is beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do you eat in this region?” These are the questions she is now trying to answer as a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), among others. travel writer and travel blogger answers in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is below Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021 Other Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs. Recommendations on LinkedIn from tourism experts Further recommendations from cooperation partners and tourism experts Professional experience Monika on LinkedIn

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