Agde (more specifically, Grau d’Agde, which is Agde’s coastal harbour) is an excellent place to enter or leave the waterways system, on the south-western (Spanish) end of the French Mediterranean coast. There are very good facilities.
Access is via the River Herault and a short spur canal that connects with the famous Round Lock on the Canal du Midi. If travelling to or from the Rhone (via the Canal Rhone a Sete) there is only a short 7km section of the relatively shallow (approx. 1.5m draft) Midi to negotiate, beyond the Etang de Thau at Sete.
If you’re travelling on from Agde, then Jim Baerselman’s Mediterranean Cruising Guide is the marine equivalent of french-waterways.com, with fully detailed information about places, passages and practicalities.
2km from the spur canal junction (about 0.5km from the harbour entrance) lies Chantier Allemand.
The harbour entrance itself is a short (4nm) sea voyage from one of Europe’s biggest marina complexes, Cap d’Agde, where many marine services are available. Although we prefer to use the river boatyard it is entirely possible to un-mast or re-mast at Cap d’Agde and – providing conditions are reasonably flat and the mast safely secured – make the short voyage to/from Grau d’Agde, mast down. The yachting journalists Colin & Rita Jones often do so.
Chantier Allemand is one of the best known boatyards in south-west France. The yard builds boats, undertakes repairs and maintenance, has a travelift big enough for peniches (cost approx. 150€ each way) and a large hardstanding area, has a well-stocked chandlery – and un-masts and re-masts (cost approx. 70€ per hour). They are professional, business-like and friendly. Their reputation is such that they are always busy and booking ahead is advisable. Telephone 04 67 94 24 19 (Marylene Allemand speaks good English), fax 04 67 94 04 51, email firstname.lastname@example.org (fax may be preferable)
River Herault at Agde
Looking south-west towards the sea, from the town bridge. There are moorings along the river on both sides but most are occupied or private. There is a modern road bridge not visible beyond the bend in the river, air-draft 12m. Agde town itself is historic, founded by the Greeks, and well worth a visit.
The arrowed path indicates the route from the end of the short spur canal onto the River Herault and through the town bridge, heading south towards the sea. To the right of the photograph viewpoint there is a weir.
The spur canal, looking south-east towards the river from the round lock on the Canal du Midi. Approaching by boat, the two small bridges along its length appear quite tight, but are not as bad as they look! A large tourist pleasure boat uses the lock and the canal – advisable to give as much room as possible. The motor boat in the photograph is waiting for the lock to open, which it does at set times – talk to the eclusiere.