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Boat costs

Keeping a boat on the French canals

Owning a boat on the French inland waterways does not need to be expensive.


A steel superstructure and little woodwork outside, except for doors, hatches and handrails. Maintenance of the exterior is usually minimal, with just some painting to be done each year.

The wooden wheelhouse on some boats, has to be regularly varnished due to the effects of the sun and rain.

Boat needs to be hauled out every four years for cleaning and repainting of the hull with a tar-based paint. Four years may seem like a long time, but it is not normally necessary to do this more often.


Insurance companies in France generally base their rates on the value of the boat. For a boat with a value of 100,000 euros the premium should be around 1% of the value of the boat. The percentage may be slightly more for boats valued at around 50,000 euros, and slightly less for those worth more than 150,000 euros.


Most inoland waterways boats over 10 years old will not be expected to depreciate in value if maintained in good condition. On the other hand, if they are not maintained, they may depreciate rapidly.


In France there is a system for paying to travel on the canals. This is payable for the period that you are travelling and not when you are moored. At present, for a 20m barge the rate is 203.60 euros for 30 days cruising (not necessarily consecutive days), or 626.50 euros for a full year’s unlimited travel. In Belgium there is a minimal tax of just a few euros, and in Holland no charge at all.

Mooring fees

In general mooring along the waterways is free of charge except for private marinas (like ours), often less than 10 euros a night. Rates will, naturally, be higher in Paris! If you leave your boat in a marina, then rates vary, but should not exceed 2,000 euros for the year.

Sample costing

For a 20 metre boat costing 100,000 euros with no loans to pay off:

- Annual maintenance: 1,000 euros
- Mooring: 2,150 euros
- Depreciation: 0 euros
- Insurance: 1,000 euros
- Canal taxes: 626 euros
- Put aside every four years: 800 euros

Total 5,576 euros

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