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Living on a barge is above all asking the right questions,

Vivre sur l'eau



First of all, you will find the barges with mainly the freycinets (38m long by 5m wide on average), the luxemotors (from 20 to 30m long by 4 to 5 wide) and the tjalks (all sizes < 30m)

There are also houseboats or floating houses / barges, here too the sizes are variable. The volumes are larger and they are not motorized.

You can also see other kinds of smaller, motorized boats.

What are the different types of houseboats?

Houseboats are moored along the banks or quays depending on the location.

There are also several Marinas in and around Paris such as the Port de la Villette, the Port de la Concorde, the Port de Javel, the Port de Saint Cloud and the Port d'Asnières. But the most important is that of the Arsenal, in the heart of the 4th arrondissement, housing more than 200 habitable boats.

Where are the barges moored?

The majority of river dwellings are not motorized. To move to the site or dock, for ten-year maintenance, this therefore requires the intervention of a pusher or tug. Those that are motorized, and in possession of an up-to-date navigability certificate, can move on the river with the help of a boatman or alone for the more adventurous and holders of a river license (-20m) or large boating inland waters (+20m). They will then enjoy an unforgettable walk in the most beautiful city in the world.

The community certificate (navigability) must be renewed every 10 years by an approved expert during a visit afloat. It is only required if the owner wishes to maintain the seaworthiness of his boat.

On the other hand, yachting is a must. Most houseboats are equipped with a small speedboat, allowing them to travel anywhere in Paris and its surroundings (river permit required). The banks are animated by many restaurants, guinguettes, bars and clubs.

Can we sail on the Seine?

The barges obviously benefit from a proper connection to electricity and water, as well as internet cabling. The connection to mains drainage is in progress. The barges must centralize the various outlets of their waste water in a tank, in order to be connected to the mains drainage, the day when the municipal installations allow it.

Are we connected like everyone else (electricity, water, internet, gas)?

The inhabitants of the river and those who work there are not lacking in imagination to offer multiple activities, in summer as in winter, to make their free time on the Seine even more pleasant and unique.

Apart from walks on the Seine and the Marne with magnificent Parisian crossings, board sports are among the darlings of the inhabitants of the river. We practice wake boarding, monoskiing, water skiing or even towed buoys, in dedicated speed zones.

Those who don't like engine noise will prefer kayaking, rowing or even paddleboarding.

You can even learn to sail (nautical base).

For nature lovers, there is of course fishing, with its many species. The most observant will be able to meet swans, geese, turtles, or some wild coypu...

What are the activities?

Several major events are organized every year.

Among the most popular, there is the crossing of Paris (Traverseine) by kayak/paddle/canoe, where more than 500 participants fight it out on more than 300 boats, between the Parc Nautique de l'île Monsieur and the Port of Bercy.

There is of course the famous July 14 fireworks display, fired from the Eiffel Tower, where all boaters gather to admire a unique spectacle, far from the crowds, in a festive and timeless atmosphere.

At the beginning of September, the Fire of Saint Cloud is fired, reputed to be the largest fire in Europe.

Are there events on the Seine?

Any floating dwelling stationed on the river must pay a fee which it pays either to the Voies Navigables de France (VNF) or to the Autonomous Port of Paris (PAP) depending on the location. Most barges have a parking permit called Convention d'Occupation Temporaire (COT) for a renewable period of 5 years. Some boats do not have it and are on a waiting list to obtain a berth under this convention. It is therefore advisable to inquire beforehand about the current and future situation with the competent authorities (VNF/PAP). The price of this tax is proportional to the size of the boat and its location. It represents on average for a 38 m boat located near Paris a cost of between 400 and 800€.

Do we pay a "ring"? Whose?

Proportionally to the number of Parisians and Ile-de-France residents, the inhabitants of the river represent only a very small part of the privileged.

The people who have decided to leave the mainland to live their life differently, on the water, come from all walks of life. Many artists in particular have made this choice of tranquillity, space and nature, at the gates of the Parisian tumult.

The spirit of community, sharing and mutual aid is an integral part of river life.

Many groups of boats also form associations whose purpose is to organize meetings of neighbors and friends (dinners, aperitifs or barbecues), but also to talk about important things, solve possible problems, carry out projects , to organize events etc.

One association, the ADHF-F, is the one that represents all the others with the competent authorities.

Do we know his neighbours?

L'aspect admin

If we compare the price per m2 between a river and land dwelling today, a barge is cheaper to buy (around 20%). But the market evolves in parallel with the real estate market and the difference between the two tends to decrease…

Does a houseboat cost less to buy than an apartment?

Know that there are no notary fees when you buy a barge or a house boat because they are movable property! This represents a saving of 7% of the purchase price! Instead, you will pay the fees of a specialized lawyer (approximately €3,000).

Are there notary fees?

There are not yet defined regulations on the payment of housing and land taxes for river dwellings. Indeed, a majority of barges or barges are not subject to it, but the trend is reversing.

Are there property and housing taxes?

Do not panic!, boat maintenance is not as expensive or as complicated as people think!

Ten-year maintenance is required for any floating home. This takes place in a shipyard or mobile dock. The most experienced can get there by sailing, otherwise you will call on a "pusher". Once there, an expert will examine the hull and recommend the work to be done. This is to monitor the rust spots and the thickness of the hull which may in some places require the installation of "doubler" and anodes to protect against the phenomenon of electrolysis.

All stakeholders taken together, for a boat maintained normally, the price of this intervention (from 3 to 10 days) is on average €15,000, which, reduced to the month, amounts to around €150/month. These figures are not contractual, it is to give you an idea.

This kind of expense is to be weighed against condominium fees when you live in an apartment!

How much does houseboat maintenance cost?

It is mandatory to insure your home and for this some insurers have specialized in river. The cost of contributions is higher than for a land dwelling (1500 euros/year on average), but it's not the Seine to drink!

How do you insure your houseboat?

L'aspect pratique

Most houseboats have a steel hull. Apart from this container, there are therefore no real load-bearing walls. This makes the development or redevelopment quite free. You can therefore make it a loft or compartmentalize it according to your needs and tastes.

However, you must follow a few logical rules in order to respect the flotation of your barge and its solidity. For example, it is necessary to reinforce the structure of the ceiling with IPNs if you want to use your roof terrace without unpleasant surprises. Two to three watertight bulkheads must also be respected depending on the boat (with watertight door).

Regarding enlargements (superstructure), you can do so without requesting authorization from the VNF for small areas (25% of the existing living area). For larger areas, you will have to wait a period of 5 years before making the request and calling on a naval architect.

If you wish, we can accompany you on this step and allow you to benefit from our network of naval architects, specialized craftsmen, shipyards and experts...

Can we fit out or modify our barge?

As everywhere, the more handyman you are, the more independent and economical you will be. Beware of small savings!

What you will learn to do on the other hand on a houseboat is to check the mooring ropes regularly, have your fire extinguishers up to date (every 2 years) and check the batteries of your automatic bilge pump alarms (a sign that there is no water in the bottom of the holds). The more vigilant and far-sighted you are with this, the less tinkering you will need!

Do you have to be a handyman to have a houseboat?

Ten-year maintenance is required for any floating home. This takes place in a shipyard or mobile dock. Once there, an expert will examine the hull and recommend the work to be done by the shipyard. He will also check the interior equipment and the seaworthiness standards of your boat if it is seaworthy.

Apart from that, it is advisable to give a coat of karscher and hypoxia paint every five years on the emerged part, in order to protect the barge and keep it impeccable.

The rest is not maintenance, but rather checking things like mooring ropes, fire extinguishers or the proper functioning of automatic bilge pumps.

Is there a lot of maintenance?

A well insulated and normally heated houseboat is no more humid than any other type of dwelling. It is therefore necessary to check these points when buying and consider work if necessary, in the same way as in other places of life. The advantage, on the other hand, compared to apartments, is that it is easy to equip yourself with a reversible heat pump and a wood stove, which is more economical, efficient and pleasant. Most houseboats have them.

Is there more moisture on the water?

During floods, the water of the Seine rises. Fortunately, the barge floats!

However, the ropes must be loosened when the water rises to allow the barge to follow it, and tightened when the water rises.  back down. It is necessary to be equipped with a boat in order to reach the bank or the quay if the water covers them. You have to be attentive to alerts from the prefecture or “vigicrue” on the internet. But know that you will not be alone: river or even land neighbors are also watching and helping if needed. The river brigade is also very responsive and efficient.

That said, don't panic, this phenomenon is rare, even if it has happened almost twice in a row over the past three years. And can we really talk about damage, compared to the inhabitants of flooded houses at home?

What happens during floods?

What are you waiting for to take the plunge?

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