If you are planning to cruise through France to the Med this season, then Through France via the Inland Waterways is essential reading, says Julia Jones

Through France via the Inland Waterways
Gordon Knight & David Edwards-May
Cruising Association, £17.50

This guide for vessels transiting to the Mediterranean through inland France is so well focussed and useful that is seems amazing it should be a new publication.

It treats the French canal system as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

Those who wish to linger and explore in depth already have a range of book choices, including The Inland Waterways of France by David Edwards-May which comes in three volumes and has recently been issued in its 9th edition.

Alternatively, there is the ‘bible’ – Gordon Knight’s Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium which is in its 26th edition.

This new publication taps into the knowledge of both authors: the authorship is credited to Gordon Knight, as editor, the maps to David Edwards-May.

Through France via the Inland Waterways advises on the practical aspects of travelling from the Channel to the Med.

Will your boat fit through the tunnels? How can you arrange mast transport? What paperwork and equipment do you need?

As with all CA publications there are delightful little gifts from individual experience, for example, as French lock keepers don’t like having warps chucked up at them, remember to take a long boathook so you can pass them politely.

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Useful vocabulary snippets are incorporated into the text such as ‘chomage’ for closure, ‘horaire’ for timetable and instructions for use of the ‘telecommande’ devices.

These are explained as being similar to a TV remote control – which may not necessarily fill one with confidence.

The bulk of the 136 page volume maps the pathways from the points of entry at Dunkerque, Calais, St Valery, Le Havre, Honfleur and Pauillac via the Loire or Bourbonnais Route, the Marne Route, Burgundy Route, River Rhone or the Midi Route.

It makes them all sound do-able.

The direction of instructions is from North to South with a useful section on entering the Med. It may be that once there no one will ever willingly want to return.

Nevertheless scattered hints (such as the strength of tidal streams in the Rhone) suggest that merely reversing the direction of instructions may not always be sufficient.

Perhaps a page or two of clarification might usefully be added in a future edition.

Meanwhile I can’t imagine anyone wanting to consider the transit without consulting this volume.

The book is free to download for Cruising Association members.

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