Waterway Depths, Heights and Widths

This is our selection of some key VNF waterways; it is not at all an exhaustive list. Figures given below are the minimum depths, heights (air clearances) and widths for the various combinations of rivers and canals indicated (i.e the worst cases), and have been rounded down.

Using a pilot-guide book is strongly recommended: Breil Guides or Fluviacarte (Navicarte) Guides.

French waterways network map - depths and heightsFrench waterways network map - depths and heights

THE NORTHERN WATERWAYS Minimum Depth Minimum Height Minimum Width
> Dunkerque to Escaut 3.00m 4.45m 11.00m
> Calais entry 2.00m 3.45m 8.00m
Canal du Nord 2.20m 3.70m 5.70m
Canal de St-Quentin 2.20m 3.50m 5.60m
> Somme (reports 2006-2008) 1.20m 3.50m 5.00m
> Seine (through Paris to the Marne) 3.00m 6.90m 11.40m
Seine (Marne to Yonne and Canal du Loing) 2.80m 5.50m 11.40m
Oise, Lateral a l’Oise 2.20m 3.90m 6.00m
Aisne, Aisne a la Marne 1.80m 3.50m 5.00m
Marne, Lateral a la Marne 1.80m 3.50m 5.20m
CENTRAL FRANCE Minimum Depth Minimum Height Minimum Width
Loing, Briare, Lateral a la Loire 1.80m 3.50m 5.20m
Nivernais 1.20m 2.90m 5.10m
Canal de Bourgogne 1.40m 3.10m 5.20m
Marne a la Saone 1.80m 3.50m 5.00m
Saone 2.00m 3.50m 5.10m
Marne au Rhin 1.80m 3.50m 5.10m
Canal de l’Est, Meuse 1.80m 3.50m 5.10m
Moselle 2.90m 5.10m 11.00m
Rhone au Rhin 1.80m 3.50m 5.20m
Canal d’Alsace, Rhin 2.10m 6.75m 22.00m
BRITTANY and LOIRE Minimum Depth Minimum Height Minimum Width
Ille et Rance, Vilaine 1.20m 2.50m 4.50m
Blavet**, Nantes a Brest (** tidal – variable minms.) 1.10m 2.40m 4.60m
Loire Tidal 4.50m
Oudon, Mayenne, Sarthe 1.4m + 1.1m 4.1m + 2.8m 5.00m
> Rhone 3.00m 6.00m 11.00m
> Petit Rhone, *Rhone a Sete
* St Gilles-Beaucaire
2.20m 5.20m
(** in theory, check current depth with VNF)
1.4m- 1.50m** 3.30m 5.40m
>Lateral a la Garonne, Garonne (** tidal) 1.60m 3.50m 5.80m

Important Notes

1) This is according to the information we have – E+O.E. We’ve done our level best, but we may have got it wrong, or typed it in wrong.

2) Whatever printed documentation may state, depths vary according to season, and vary locally. As noted elsewhere on this website, depths immediately outside locks can vary significantly.

3) If it’s critical, err on the side of caution. We have heard of stuck yachts that needed to be craned out of the Midi and loaded onto a transporter. You will float about 2.5% lower in fresh water than in salt water – say +40mm for 1.5m draft.