The Bernard Palissy III solar-electric sightseeing boat in France has completed its second summer of operation with a record 15,000 people enjoying the electric river cruise along the Riviere Charente in Cognac.
The boat was built in 2018 by electric hybrid experts Alternatives Energies of La Rochelle in conjunction with naval architects and designers SHIP-ST. Last year it won the top award in the ‘Transport’ category of the Les Palmes du Tourisme Durables.
Alternatives Energies has a long history in electric propulsions, having built their first electric vessel in 1998. The Passeur Electrique was a 35 seat ferry which ran until this past March when she and her sister ship Passeur II were replaced by new solar electric water trams the Volta and Ampere. (See our article about the world’s oldest operating electric ferry in Sweden)
The Bernard Palissy (named after a 16th century ceramics artist and hydraulics engineer) has a capacity of 149 passengers with 60 of them able to enjoy the rooftop sundeck. It has a top speed of 12 km /h, but presumably adopts a more leisurely pace during its standard sightseeing cruise along what the Charente, which monarch François I called “the most beautiful brook of the Kingdom”.
Daytime and starlight electric river cruises
In addition to the trip down the river (with a stop at the restaurant of the historic inn and mill Moulin de la Baine), the BP-III also does things like starlight cruises and can be booked for private excursions. The Croisieres Palissy website has complete information.
France has a long tradition of electric boating and was one of the first countries to form an electric boating association – the AFBE – Association Française pour le Bateuax électrique. In the past year, NaviWatt introduced the world’s 1st electrified RIB workboat, its canals saw the introduction of the world’s first emission free hydrogen push boat and of course the SeaBubbles electric hydrofoil water taxi has completed its week of evaluation on the Seine in Paris and hopes to be in full operation next spring.