Discover waterways holidays

Did you know that France is ranked as the number one tourism destination for waterways holidays in Europe? With its 8,200km of waterways, France has the largest network of canals and rivers in Europe that can be enjoyed by holidaymakers and is the perfect destination for anyone wanting to discover the pleasures of this unique type of holiday. A waterways holiday sees you and your crew exploring the country far from the usual crowds and mass tourism. What’s more, no previous boating holiday experience is needed.

The popularity of waterways holidays is on the rise, perhaps because they offer the ideal antidote to the frantic pace of modern life. Once aboard your comfortable canal boat, cruising through the countryside at your leisure, you will rediscover peace and time to recharge your batteries. When you sail at 8km or 10km per hour (speed is limited on most waterways) you take time to do things, enjoying the pleasure of navigating, steering the boat and observing the surroundings. Even a short break with a mid-week or weekend cruise is a unique experience, to share with friends or family.

If you’d like to enjoy the slower pace of life while away, book a Nicols boating holiday and discover how waterways holidays remind you that taking your time is an enjoyable luxury!

  • Discover waterways holidays - Boat security

Nicols, is a leading builder and operator of canal boats Waterways holiday specialists


With over 35 years’ experience of both building canal boats and offering them for holidays, Nicols is recognised as a leader in the world of waterways holidays. Its expertise in boat design and an understanding of the needs of holiday-makers, means Nicols creates boats that combine comfort, safety and ease of use. They truly satisfy any crew – from families with young children to senior couples!


Unlike sea-going boats whose hull is V-shaped, canal boats are designed with a flat bottom which optimises the interior layout. The available space is close to that found in a motorhome or mobile home, with living spaces, bedrooms, bathrooms and a well-equipped kitchen. In addition, many boats offer an outdoor terrace for outside dining and a double steering position (inside + outside) so steering the boat can be done in the sun!


Nicols canal boats are renowned for their manoeuvrability and ease of access – the Sedan and Estivale ranges feature outside terraces on the same level as the indoor living space. In addition, Nicols boats are manufactured in France, so meet French safety legislation and offer double-chain railings and handrails to facilitate movement around the boat and reduce the risk of falling. These are all significant features that make Nicols one of the favourite brands for waterways holidays, especially for families with young children.

Make your waterways holiday even better !


Bicycles can be an invaluable help for discovering more of the places you moor at. Take a ride to visit the charming villages and the special features of the area or simply to help carry delicious food and drink back to enjoy on board. Cycling a little further afield is often a way to meet interesting people and to help make your stay unforgettable.
Adult bicycles, children's bikes and baby seats are available from most of our Nicols bases - remember to book them before you depart!

N.B. Helmets are compulsory for children under 12 years old so please bring these and any other equipment you wish.


You can enjoy fishing in the canals and rivers provided you obtain a permit in advance. These can be purchased in fishing tackle shops, at some tobacconists or via the internet at

A 7-days permit costs approximately €32 in France or €40 in Germany. In Portugal, the permit will cost €25, whatever the duration of your cruise.

Happy fishing!

Wi-fi on board

With our onboard Wi-Fi package, you can make sure you stay connected. Whether it’s tablets, computers or mobile phones... our special service will enable you to connect one or several devices throughout your cruise!* It is available on most of our cruises - contact us for more information.

* subject to the quality of network coverage, variable depending on the region.


Here is a perfect addition for your holiday. Hire one of our barbecues/planchas (hotplate) to take with you and you can enjoy a memorable barbecue party alongside your boat!

For your convenience, most of our bases offer appliances which run on gas. Ask before you leave.

Bathroom & kitchen linen

If you’re reaching your boat by plane or train, why take up space in your luggage with linen for the bathroom and kitchen?

All Nicols bases offer rental of bathroom towels kits (including 1 glove + 1 towel + 1 bath towel) and the rental of kitchen linen (including 1 hand towel and 2 tea towels). Ask before your boarding.

Cleaning fee

When you finish your cruise will you need to get off your boat in a hurry? Or perhaps you’d just rather not do the cleaning? For your convenience our bases offer a cleaning service (from €70 to €200 depending on your booking).

N.B. If you’d like to take advantage of this option, please inform the base staff when you collect the boat. This enables us to organise everything for your return. Thank you for your understanding!

All inclusive

It's the holidays! So, make it easy and get everything you need with our ‘all inclusive’ option. 

This package includes: 1 waterways guide + 2 bikes + cleaning fee + kitchen linen kit + bathroom linen kit + boat consumables (fuel / gas).

Ask us for the cost according to your boat choice.

Deck mattress

New! Make the most of relaxing on deck with a comfortable, foldable and easy-to-store mattress. Great for lazy days lounging on the roof terrace or front deck of your Nicols boat!


The Converter 12 Volts / 220 Volts

Once onboard, the only power source available is the boat battery (except premium boats which have an extra generator).
If you sail 4 to 5 hours a day, your battery recharges enough to operate the household pump (for water supply), fridge (if electric), etc…

If you want to take electrical equipment on board the following options are available:

  • A cigarette lighter in the cockpit means, for example, it is possible to connect a mobile phone. You will need to bring the appropriate cable for the cigarette lighter though.
  • For a small charge of about 12 € you can rent a converter from the Nicols base. This allows you to convert electricity from the battery of 12 volts to 220 volts. You still need to be careful not to flatten the battery though - devices with low power consumption (150 watts max) such as telephone, laptop, tablet, will be fine but for devices and equipment that requires more power (over 150 watts) or electric resistance (hairdryer, electric coffee maker) you will need to remember that you are always supplied by the battery which is a limited source.

If you think you’ll need 220 volts consistently or continuously (for example CPAP machine during the night) then it is possible to plug into electrical terminals that are available in some mooring points and marinas using the extension cord supplied onboard. These terminals are usually listed in your waterways guide. Some of our newer boats allow you to connect directly.

The splash pool: a nicols exclusive!

An on-board pool! Discover the pleasures of on-board bathing by adding one of our fantastic heated and filtered splash pools – simply tow it along with your boat. Suitable for the Estivale, Confort and Sedan (except N800 and Primo) ranges.

  • Discover waterways holidays - Guide-book

Dedicated waterways Plan, navigate & enjoy


A waterways guide dedicated to the waterways you will explore helps you plan, navigate and look out for the sights:

  • A detailed route of the waterways on which you will navigate.
  • Practical information on locks, pontoons, water points and more.
  • Tourist information to help plan stops and visits including opening hours, market days, good restaurants and more.

Order your waterways guide when you book and you’ll receive it at your home with your cruise documents giving you plenty of time to plan your trip. 

So, here you are – all ready to cast off calmly and to make it a waterways holiday to remember!