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Canal Boat Hire


Dole_Octo © Nicols - CRTFC


Self-drive boating holidays, no experience needed!


As a couple or with family and friends, enjoy a fun and flexible holiday with complete freedom – whether you’re looking for a weekend away, a short break or a longer holiday. Nicols offers 21 starting destinations from which to explore the canals and rivers of France, Germany and Portugal.


Canal boat hire in France

Bases in France © NicolsRent a self-drive canal boat from one of the 18 bases located across France’s extensive canal and river network. With almost 8000 km of navigable waterways, France boasts the largest canal network in Europe. This is good news for boating holiday enthusiasts as it creates an abundance of cruising options:

Alsace: mountains and forests sceneries along with fine wining and dining

Anjou: famous for castles, abbeys and historical treasures

Aquitaine & Lot: cruise the Baise, Lot and the Garonne Canal

Brittany: the land of legends, crêpes and cider

Burgundy: picture postcard scenery and splendid châteaux

Camargue: flamingos, wild horses, Crusader ports and sandy beaches

Charente: green countryside, clear waters and fields of sunflowers

Franche-Comté & Saône: crossroads of rivers, few locks and wild beauty

Loire Valley & Nivernais: charming villages throughout Sancerrois

Midi: UNESCO listed canal linking the Atlantic with the Mediterranean

Canal boat hire in Germany

Bases in Germany © NicolsCriss-crossed by numerous waterways, Germany offers boating holiday regulars something different and the chance to discover wonderful natural areas. Hire a self-drive canal boat and cruise on clear waters passing through beautiful forests and breathtaking landscapes typical of the Mecklenburg and Brandenburg regions. The two Nicols canal boat bases offer unforgettable boating holidays in the heart of the twisting and turning “region of a thousand lakes”.

Mecklenburg: green countryside and clean beautiful waterways

Brandenburg: lake chains of crystalline waters joined by the canals

Canal boat hire in Portugal

Base in Portugal © NicolsHire a self-drive canal boat in Portugal – an exclusive to Nicols! Even though the Douro river is usually best known, the Alentejo region in the south of Portugal, is just as good if not better. What makes this canal boat holiday destination special is the waterway you’ll travel along: the Grande Lago is the largest and one of the most impressive artificial lakes in Europe. A cruise from there offers complete freedom. No locks mean you can go where you want when you want, even mooring up freely at any of the many islets you’ll find on route.

Lago Alqueva: waters of an incredible quality for nature lovers and watersports fans!


Read the brochure Book online!



Primo - Sedan Range © Nicols


Choose your Nicols boat!


From lock to lock, village to village, savour an unforgettable trip on board your self-drive canal boat, equipped with home-from-home comfort! Over the years Nicols have designed 22 different boat models, divided into 4 different ranges. What’s more, no previous boating experience or licence is needed. 


ESTIVALE canal boat range

Estivale Sixto Prestige © Nicols

The ESTIVALE range is Nicols very latest boats, with high-end equipment and clever design to make the most of available space.

* The very best facilities and equipment
* Two steering positions
* Beautiful living space: living room and terrace
* Front and rear terraces
* 2 to 10 people


The Estivale river boat range offers vast, bright living spaces blending nicely into the outside areas of the boat thanks to the sliding bay window that leads to the ground-level rear deck.

The kitchen boasts top of the range equipment, whilst the cabins and shower rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Outside there is a second deck at the front of the boat, a top deck with an outdoor second steering position, a garden living space and sliding sun awning on the rear deck. A swimming ladder and deck shower are great for when you wish to take a dip!

Nicols pools can be added to all boats within the Estivale range.

CONFORT canal boat range

Confort 1350 © Nicols

The CONFORT range is great for couples, each cabin has its own private bathroom.

* Private ensuite for each cabin
* Ideal for couples
* Front and rear terraces
* 2 to 10 people




The Nicols Confort range uses the same strong design features across all models: cabins arranged to the front and rear of the boat with a central living area in between ensuring privacy.

Safe and easy access to the front deck is provided via a corridor moulded into the hull, while the rear deck can be reached from the living area via a sliding bay window. A built-in staircase leads up to the roof deck.

Each cabin has its own shower room.

These features make the Confort range of self-drive boats the customer’s favourite for 2, 3 or 4 couples with a selection of models to suit all party sizes.

SEDAN canal boat range

Sedan Primo © Nicols

The SEDAN range is ideal for families, boasting a fantastic large rear terrace level that’s easily accessible from the living room.

* Large living room with panoramic views
* Spacious rear terrace
* Ideal for families
* 2 to 12 people



The highlights of the Sedan range include a superb living space boasting panoramic views and a rear sliding bay window leading to a ground-level deck for relaxing in the sun or dining alfresco style.

No longer is the captain isolated at the helm as the crew can all be together in a user friendly living space!

What’s more, to make the most of outdoor living, the Sedan range (except for the N800 and Primo) offers a second steering position on the top deck and can even tow a Nicols heated pool!

RIVIERA canal boat range

Riviera 920 © Nicols

The RIVIERA range were the first boats created by our Nicols shipyard. They are very simple and easy to manoeuvre.

* Charm of old canal boats
* Easy handling
* Ideal for a first cruise
* 4 to 10 people



The Riviera range of boats have won over many self-drive boating holiday fans and due to their slightly rounded shape give them the charm of old-time barges.

As the first canal boats to emerge from the Nicol’s boatyard, they are the key to ongoing Nicols’s success and are still extremely popular, particularly with first-timers.

With pleasant living spaces and a fold-back roof to dine and relax in the sun, the Riviera range are very easy to manoeuvre and offer great on-board comfort at affordable prices.

The Riviera river boat range is available in 2 or 3 cabin models.


Read the brochure Book online!



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