Planning for France

This is where I will put the main planning tasks for our coming adventures in Burgundy. The plan is to spend three months on a canal boat in Burgundy in the summer of 2017.  We’ve done a couple of  canal boat vacations in the past (for a week at a time) and had so much fun we decided we wanted to spend a summer doing it!

Buy vs Rent 

We spent a lot of time looking into this since we will be our plan is to cruise for most of the summer. There are two big reasons to rent/lease a canal boat and one big reason to buy (in my opinion).

License:  To own and operate a boat in France requires a license. The French license to operate a boat on the canals/rivers of France is called a Permis Plaisance (Eaux Intérieures) which is good for boats up to 20 meters (60 feet). It requires a minimum of 3 hours of practical training at a recognized training center and passing a 25 question test (up to 4 wrong answers are allowed). The test is only offered in French.

Alternately, most foreign visitors operating their own boats, must have an ICC certificate as endorsed for Inland Waters (having also passed the CEVNI exam). It is difficult for a US citizen to get an ICC certificate. There are a couple of schools in the US that are authorized to issue the ICC but they offer classes infrequently (I could find none for the first four months of 2017).

HOWEVER, if you rent a boat in France, you do NOT need a license. The owner of the boat (in this case the charter company) is required to have a license but recreational renters are not. Big plus for renting.

Support:  Going with an established, reputable charter company (like Le Boat or Locaboat) means that if something goes wrong with the boat you have someone to call. After all, it’s not your boat. This also means you have to stay within a reasonable distance of the leasing company’s bases but that isn’t too hard. This is another big plus (in our opinion).

Cost:  This is the big negative. Leasing a boat, even with all the discounts is going to cost $300/day or so. A summer lease (12 weeks) will be $25K or so. If it turns out we absolutely love it and want to come back every summer for a while this is really not a realistic option. You can get a 10-20 year old motor cruiser in the 40′ range for $100K to $200K. For a boat that old annual depreciation is low – $5-10K but there are storage and maintenance costs. I estimate it to be less than 1/2 the cost of leasing. But, for one summer, leasing is probably the way to go.

Extended Stay Visa

The standard tourist visa is for 9o days. We want the flexibility of staying loRenger so will be applying for a 3-6 month extended visa. Here are the requirements (from the Houson French Consulate website):

  1. Original passport or travel document (+ ONE COPY of the identity pages). Your passport must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for at least three months after your return to the US and have at least 2 blank visas pages left.
  2. Processing fee ($99 person/MC or Visa)
  3. One application form in French OR in English filled out completely and signed by the applicant. NO COPY.
  4. One residence form duly filled out (upper part only)
  5. One ID picture (white background, full face, no glasses nor hat, closed mouth).
  6. Proof of medical coverage : you must present a letter from your insurance company stating that you are covered for repatriation, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospitalization or death, with a minimum coverage amount of 50,000 USD. This coverage must be valid for the Schengen States or worldwide, and indicate your name and dates of coverage. The medical insurance company must pay directly the providers. A medical insurance with a 0 deductible is strongly recommended.
  7. A non criminal record certificate to be obtained at the police’s office of the city of residence
  8. Deed of your house/apartment in France.
  9. Financial guarantee such as:
    • Letter from your bank stating that you have sufficient means of support to live in France;
    • Justification of retirement pensions
    • A notarized declaration of your sponsor stating that he/she will be responsible for all your expenses and a proof of his/her assets. The sponsor should be a French resident with close family ties with the visa applicant.
  10. A note, dated and signed by the applicant, stating that he/she does not intend to have in France a paid professional activity which requires a work permit.


You MUST apply for the visa in person (not too tough for us since we have a French consulate in Houston) and you can apply no more than 90 days before you expect to go.

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