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Canals in France

Printed Maps and Guides

From: A Barge Cruise in France

If you're going on a barge cruise or renting a boat in France, the following maps and guides may be useful:

VNF brochure Welcome to Voies navigables de France (VNF, the French inland waterways network is a free brochure/map from the French government that shows rivers and canals throughout the country. It also has addresses and other practical information in English.

We received a copy of this map with our Go Barging/European Waterways Ltd cruise documents; you can also pick it up at local tourist offices along the waterways.

VNF Carte de France map VNF Carte de France du Patrimoine Fluvial is another free map, but in a larger format than the brochure described above. On the back, it has photos, cutaway illustrations, etc. with waterway-related trivia in French.

This map may no longer be in print; we obtained a three-year-old edition at the Montargis tourist office.

Navicarte Voies Navigables map guide Navicarte Voies Navigables: Tourisme et Navigation is a series of maritime road atlases for boaters and barge operators. Volume 20, "Bourgogne Ouest d'Avon à Digoin," includes the Canal de Briare and the Canal du Loing (which were on our La Renaissance itinerary).

Navicarte publishes 28 detailed map guides (such as the one above), four regional map guides, and two general country maps--one for France, and one for Belgium.

The detailed map guides cost a whopping € 25, but they're indispensable if you're a boater, and they do make useful souvenirs. Look for them at French ship chandlers and map shops, or visit the publisher's Web site at www.grafocarte.fr

Carto-Guide Fluvial Mini-Atlas Carto-Guide Fluvial Mini-Atlas, from Guides Chagnon, is a handy maritime atlas that shows rivers and waterways throughout France. It also has a large folded map that you can pull from the binding to consult or mount on the wall.

The Mini-Atlas's maps aren't as detailed as those in the Navicarte guide shown above, but the book is useful is a general planning resource. (We bought our copy from a ship chandler in Saint-Mammès on the Seine; the price in 2008 was € 20.)

Entre Fleuves et Rivières Entre Fleuves et Rivières: Les Canaux du Centre de la France is a book of photos and text (in French) that makes a great souvenir of a barge cruise or boat trip the canals and rivers of the Loire Basin. The price in 2008 was € 25, and we purchased our copy at a bookshop in Montargis.

For more information on canal maps and guides, visit these French-language Web sites:

Voies Navigables de France

éditions Grafocarte

éditions Chabassol

éditions Vagnon


Also see:
European Waterways La Renaissance barge cruise - review
Day-by-day barge cruise photo diary - La Renaissance
Satellite-photo maps of towns along the route

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