Barging into the South of France - Page 5

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What You Need to Know When You Go
Bring a pair of work gloves or buy them at the charter baseā€”lock ropes are very hard on the hands.

Read the Waterway Guide you'll be sent before you go, and bring it with you. It has important information about the navigation maps, canal signs and symbols, safety, and negotiating locks. Go over the info again during onboard instruction at the base.

Keep everyone off the back deck when you're mooring or heading into locks. You will bump walls or banks hard enough to throw passengers off balance.

Put lifejackets on kids when going in and out of locks. Yes, boating is safe, but this is an area where accidents can more easily occur.
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Crown Blue Line (888.355.9491; www.crownblueline.com) has bases on dozens of canals in France and across Europe. Boats accommodate two to 12 people. Weeklong charters in southern France range from $1,020 to $5,345, depending on boat and season. Our Classique sleeping eight runs $2,690 to $4,015.

After flying into France, give your kids another transportation thrill traveling to your boat via high-speed train—we took the TGV from Paris to Marseillan (www.raileurope.com). The France Saverpass and Eurail Select Pass Saver provide discounts for family members traveling together. France Rail 'n Drive combines train travel and car rental.

We found the Ibis and Mercure hotels, both part of the Accor group (www.accorhotels.com), to be family friendly, moderately priced and most had a swimming pool. We stayed at the Ibis Sète Balaruc Les Bains and the Mercure Sète Balaruc Les Bains, both in Sète.

Take a few days before or after boating to explore Nîmes, one of France's most delightful cities. Visit the Roman ruins, including a spectacular arena, and splurge on the excellent Hotel Imperator Concorde (+33.0466.21.9030; www.hotel-imperator.com) in the heart of the city, walking distance from ruins, great shopping and dozens of sidewalk cafés.

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