Staying overnight on a boat is nothing new—just ask anyone who has ever been on a cruise or yacht expedition—but what about sleeping in a boat hotel? You can do just that at La Batelière sur Loire in France’s picturesque Loire Valley, which is welcome news for anyone who loves the serenity afforded by a secluded river bank in the great outdoors, but doesn’t want to commit to a week spent navigating a waterway with hundreds of other passengers. Oh, and did I mention there’s no issue with seasickness?
La Batelière sur Loire has two boats situated along the banks of the Loire River in the heart of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine natural area near the village of La Chapelle-Aux-Naux. For about 160 euros per night (or less depending on length of stay), couples can bunk in a replica of a traditional cabanée, which is the boat that was used by salmon fishermen on the Loire until the beginning of the 20th century.
I ended up getting to stay on one of them during a solo trip to the Loire Valley, and despite being a huge fan of unique accommodations I found myself slightly apprehensive leading up to check-in. The first reason is the boat is tucked into the riverbank, making it barely visible from the road high above. This prompted a frantic message from one of my adorable mom-friends who saw my Instagram story about it, who was convinced I was going to literally end up sleeping with the fish and no one would ever hear from me again.
The other hiccup was accessibility. The only way to get down to the river was via a long, steep stone staircase, which eventually led to a somewhat wobbly wooden plank onto the boat. As someone who is not a light packer (#sorrynotsorry), this made getting my suitcases all the way down quite a challenge. At least I’m guessing it was hard, since I didn’t actually carry them down thanks to my strapping young handler Gilles who earned his paycheque that day.
BUT…once I got on said-boat it was super fun! Both the bow and stern had outdoor areas which were perfect for watching sunrise and sunset, along with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. There were plenty of windows perfectly aligned with the waterline meaning I could enjoy the tranquil view from the comfort of my bed, along with cozy spots to curl up with a book—because no built-in Wi-Fi here, folks.
La Batelière sur Loire may be off-the-grid, but it still has power, running water, a hot shower, toilet and lights. Just be sure to pay very close attention to how everything works during check-in, or there’s a good chance you’ll wake up with no heat or running water in the morning like yours-truly. (In my defence, all the written instructions were in French, and je ne’parle pas francais). A hearty breakfast hand-delivered in a picnic basket is also included, and my spread included a steaming thermos for coffee or tea, fresh pastries, yogurt, fruit and juice.
So how would I rate my Loire Valley accommodations overall? Well, it definitely gets points for being a novel, memorable place to stay, in a beautiful, serene area. I loved drifting off to sleep in complete darkness under a swath of cozy comforters, the only sound being fish slipping in and out of the water outside the boat. Perhaps the best part was watching the sunrise over the water, wrapped up in a warm blanket with a mug of tea, breathing in the crisp dawn air without another soul in sight.
The boat isn’t an ideal option for groups of more than two people due to space, those on a budget, or people with accessibility issues. However, when it comes to a unique, memorable experience, La Batelière sur Loire is one of the best places to stay in Loire Valley.
Globe Guide explored the Loire Valley as part of the #FranceNature challenge, in collaboration with Atout France and Air France. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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