Information about the 196km long Canal latéral à la Loire

LoireLat-location

The Canal latéral à la Loire follows the course of the river Loire from Digoin, where it connects with the Canal du Centre, to Briare, a distance of 196km. It is an important waterway, forming part of the least heavily-locked route from the Seine to the Saône. Large-scale maintenance works were carried out in the 1990s to restore the original navigable standards, as well as consolidating the fragile banks. Connections are made with the Canal de Roanne à Digoin at km 2, and with the Canal du Nivernais via the branch to Decize and a channel dredged across the river Loire (PK 64). The canal also used to connect with the remarkable Canal du Berry system, sadly closed since 1955, at Marseilles-les-Aubigny (PK 121).

Six branches which remain open to navigation (including the Decize branch mentioned above). The Dompierre branch (PK 25), length 2.7km with no locks, leads to the small town of Dompierre-sur-Besbre, which has a hire base. The Decize branch (PK 64), length 0.5km and 2 locks, links with the Loire and the Canal du Nivernais, and includes the extensive basin at Decize, which also has a hire base. The Nevers branch (PK 96), length 2.8km with 2 locks, leads to Nevers. Here a third lock leading down to the Loire was converted into a swimming pool. The Givry-Fourchambault branch (PK 115), length 2.4km with 2 locks, links with the Loire, but 24 hours’ notice to be given to the Saint-Satur subdivisional engineer for passage. The Saint-Thibault branch (PK 156), length 0.7km, leads to a lock down to the Loire, which has been closed to navigation. The Châtillon branch (PK 183), length 4.6km with 3 locks, leads to Les Mantelots basin. This was the former main line of the canal down to the Loire crossing. The branch is open on weekends only during the summer for access to the vast Mantelots basin; restoration of the Loire crossing and the right bank canal through to the port of Briare is under discussion.

The Apremont branch (PK 108), which serves as a feeder canal from the Allier, is no longer open to navigation.LoireLat-reg-2

Aqueducts – The canal has three fine aqueducts, situated at Digoin (240m, over the Loire), Le Guétin (334m, over the Allier) and Briare (660m, over the Loire). Navigation is one-way across all these aqueducts. At Digoin and Briare, the first vessel to reach either end of the aqueduct has priority. At Le Guétin, the lights which control passage through the double staircase lock also control passage across the aqueduct.

History – The canal was opened in 1838. As originally built, the canal included a treacherous crossing of the Loire near the downstream end, improved by a system of breakwaters but nevertheless prone to stoppages during high or low water. A bypass was thus opened in 1896, including the spectacular aqueduct over the Loire at Briare, continuing up the Trézée valley to connect with the Canal de Briare at La Cognardière.


Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 5.14m
  • Max Height: 3.50m
  • Max Draught: 1.80m


Navigation

Locks – There are 37 locks, of standard Freycinet dimensions, 38.50 by 5.17m, with the exception of Lock 11 (Gailloux), where the chamber is slightly narrower (5.14 m). The locks fall towards Briare, overcoming a difference in level of 98m.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom – The bridges leave a minimum clear headroom of 3.50m above normal water level.

Towpath – There is a towpath throughout the length of the canal, of variable condition.

Authority VNF – Direction territoriale Centre-Bourgogne
CEMI Montceau
–    9ème écluse Océan, 71300 Montceau-les-Mines  (PK 0-29)
CEMI Décize
–    1 quai de la Jonction, 58300 Decize  (PK 29-110)
CEMI Briare
–    17, rue du Pont Canal, 45250 Briare (PK 110-196)

Click to enlarge

Route description

PK 196.0     Junction with Canal de Briare La Cognardière
PK 195.9     Footbridge (Cognardière), flood gate
PK 195.8     Aqueduct (Cognardière)
PK 195.1     Bridge (Vaugereau)
PK 194.8     Road bridge (D7, Briare bypass)
PK 194.3     Bridge (Bléneau)
PK 194.2     Railway bridge
PK 194.0     Briare bridge (D957)
PK 193.7     Briare basin, moorings west bank for 4 boats, night €12.30, water, electricity, slipway, repairs, town centre 300m, restaurant with private moorings east bank

This bustling harbour is managed independently from the extremely popular port de plaisance in the town centre on the ‘dead end’ section of the Canal de Briare. See under that canal for the whole picture. Boats in transit north to south will prefer this comfortable harbour and boat hire base, with all facilities and its spectacular location just a few steps from the famous aqueduct.

PK 193.6     Beginning of Briare aqueduct (663m long), bridge (Saint-Firmin)193-briare-aqueduct

A great feature of the French Waterways, the aqueduct was designed by the canal engineer Abel Mazoyer and the fourteen masonry supports were constructed by the Eiffel company. The paired obelisks at each end reflect the same feature on the Pont Alexandre on the Seine in Paris and the aqueduct is lit by a chain of Art Nouveau style lamp standards. It followed the introduction of the nationwide Freycinet gauge for canal peniches and replaced a crossing over the River Loire that was susceptible to flooding, currents and droughts. Until recently it was the longest canal aqueduct in the world. The short by-passed canal sections on either side of the river are still navigable, however there are significant draught and headroom restrictions, particularly on the southern/western branch.

PK 192.9     End of Briare aqueduct
PK 192.7     Canal on embankment crosses D951
PK 192.2     Saint-Firmin basin l/b
PK 191.9     Bridge (Beauregard), flood gate
PK 190.9     Bridge (Motte), castle r/b
PK 189.7     Bridge (Chailloux)
PK 188.5     Bridge (Hautes-Rives)
PK 188.1     Aqueduct
PK 188.0     Bridge (Châtillon)
PK 187.5     Châtillon-sur-Loire basin l/b, Le Boat hire base, moorings for 10 boats l/b, night €9, water, electricity, shower €2, crane 15 t, slipway, repairs, restaurant, village 300m

A popular mooring and a very attractive village with a heritage trail; leaflet available from the tourist office.

PK 187.4     Footbridge (Mantelot)
PK 186.7     Bridge (Rabuteloires), flood gates
PK 185.1     Bridge (La Folie)
PK 184.1     Bridge (Gannes)
PK 182.7     L’Étang bridge, flood gates, moorings d/s l/b, no services
PK 182.6     Junction with former main line (embranchement de Châtillon) r/b
PK 180.3     Beaulieu bridge, basin and village d/s l/b, moorings along campsite embankment for 10 boats, water, electricity, showers, slipway
PK 179.1     Bridge (Plessis)
PK 178.3     Lock 38 (Maimbray), aqueduct, bridge d/s
PK 176.7     Bridge (Chennevières)
PK 175.5     Belleville-sur-Loire bridge, mooring for 24 boats, water, electricity, slipway, village and restaurant l/b

This port de plaisance is an especially good stop. Access to free water and electricity is by means of connector/adapter obtainable from the Tourist Office, which also has wifi and is immediately adjacent to excellent, tree-shaded moorings lying below the lock. The key to immaculately maintained services, including hot shower, is held by the éclusier. There is a supermarket within 200/300 m, with diesel pump.

PK 175.2     Lock 37 (Belleville), quays u/s and d/s l/b
PK 174.7     Bridge (Rue)
PK 174.4     New road bridge
PK 172.8     Sury-près-Léré bridge, village l/b
PK 171.3     Léré bridge, basin d/s l/b, mooring for 8 boats, water, electricity, village l/b
PK 169.6     New road bridge
PK 169.5     Lock 36 (Houards), bridge
PK 167.4     Bridge (Ménétreau)
PK 166.4     Bridge (Gravereau)
PK 165.6     Lock 35 (Peseau)
PK 165.0     Bridge (Giraude)
PK 164.0     Bridge (Fouchards), quay and basin d/s l/b, château 600m
PK 163.2     Bridge (Bussy)
PK 161.8     Railway bridge
PK 161.6     Lock 34 (Bannay), bridge
PK 161.3     Bannay l/b

This is a very pleasant canal section.

PK 160.3     Bridge (Île), quay u/s l/bStThibault-PeterVickery
PK 159.1     Bridge (Beaufroy)
PK 156.9     Bridge (Mivoie)
PK 155.5     Junction with Saint-Thibault branch r/b, see under branch for details of boat harbour
PK 155.4     Saint-Satur bridge and basin, moorings for larger vessels, night €10.50, water, electricity
PK 152.9     Ménétréol-sous-Sancerre bridge, basin d/s l/b, mooring for 10 boats, water, electricity, village l/b, preferred mooring for visiting Sancerre 2500m on hilltop
PK 152.1     Lock 33 (Thauvenay), bridge
PK 150.5     Bridge (Rousseaux)
PK 148.7     Saint-Bouize bridge, basin u/s l/b, village 1000m
PK 147.9     Moule aqueduct
PK 146.9     Lock 32 (Grange), bridge, castle 1000m
PK 146.3     Basin (Guillons) l/b, no services
PK 144.4     Bridge (Champalay)
PK 141.9     Lock 31 (Prée), bridge
PK 140.9     Bridge (Sarrée)
PK 139.4     Basin
PK 138.9     Lock 30 (Herry), bridge, basin d/s l/b, water
PK 136.9     Bridge (Châtillon)
PK 135.7     Bridge (Charreau)
PK 134.4     Bridge (Nambault)
PK 133.1     La Chapelle-Montlinard bridge, basin, mooring for La Charité 2000m on r/b of Loire, water, electricity
PK 131.6     Lock 29 (Rousseaux), bridge
PK 130.9     Quay (Charnaye) l/b
PK 130.4     Quays (Comillons)
PK 129.9     Bridge (D45e)
PK 129.5     Argenvières basin, village r/b
PK 129.1     Lock 28 (Argenvières), bridge
PK 127.5     Saint-Léger-le-Petit bridge, village l/b
PK 126.1     Bridge (Radis)
PK 124.9     Basin l/b
PK 124.4     Lock 27 (Beffes), bridge d/s, village r/b
PK 123.6     Footbridge
PK 122.0     Turning basin l/b
PK 121.6     Lock 26 (Aubois), bridge d/s, freight office
PK 121.4     Aubois aqueduct and basin l/b
PK 121.3     Lock 25 (Aubigny), bridge d/s
PK 120.7     Former junction with Canal de Berry l/b
PK 120.5     Marseilles-les-Aubigny basin l/b, quay and boat repair yard, 14 berths, night €6.20, water, electricity, shower €2, additional moorings r/b, small town l/b
PK 120.0     Bridge (Poids de Fer)
PK 117.6     Bridge (Dompierre)
PK 116.0     Cours-les-Barres bridge, with quay and pontoons for 7 boats, water, electricity, restaurant, village l/b
PK 115.2     Bridge (Crille)
PK 114.5     Junction with embranchement de Givry-Fourchambault r/b, basin
PK 114.4     Bridge (Mahauts), quay r/b
PK 112.2     Bridge (Laubray)
PK 112.0     Lock 24 (Laubray)
PK 109.7     Bridge (Presle), castle
PK 108.6     Cuffy footbridge, village l/b
PK 107.8     Bridge (Colombier)
PK 107.5     Junction with Apremont branch (Allier feeder canal), closed to navigation
PK 107.4     Bridge (Caillettes)
PK 106.4     Double staircase lock 21/22 (Guétin), bridge, basin d/s, l/b, quay with bollards, bar/tabac/épicerie r/b
PK 106.0     Guétin aqueduct (over river Allier), access controlled by lights
PK 105.6     Bridge (Sampanges), Gimouille basin u/s l/b, overnight mooring permitted
PK 104.8     Gimouille bridge, very tight, proceed with caution, village l/b
PK 103.9     Bridge (Colombier), D976, castle 200m
PK 102.8     Bridge (Marais)
PK 100.3     Bridge (Seuilly)
PK 99.6     Railway bridge
PK 99.4     Bridge (Pavillon), Challuy 500m
PK 98.6     Plagny bridge, D907, boat moorings in basin u/s l/b, Tourisme Fluvial du Centre hire base, no overnight moorings, services for hire boats only, crane 5 t, restaurant
PK 97.8     Motorway Bridge (N7)
PK 97.4     Bridge (Peuilly)
PK 97.0     Bridge (D907a)
PK 96.4     Junction with embranchement de Nevers, r/b
PK 96.2     Bridge, Sermoise-sur-Loire 1000m
PK 94.7     Bridge (Crot de Savigny)
PK 93.3     Bridge (Forêt de Sermoise)
PK 91.0     Bridge (Crezancy)
PK 89.4     Chevenon bridge, village and château 800m l/b
PK 87.3     Bridge (Atelier)
PK 85.7     Lock 20 (Jaugenay), bridge d/s
PK 84.5     Bridge (Planches)
PK 82.3     Bridge (Chamond), basin d/s l/b
PK 81.8     Lock 19 (Uxeloup)
PK 81.2     Bridge (Uxeloup)
PK 79.9     Bridge (Vèvre)
PK 77.9     Bridge (Motte-Farchat), basin u/s l/b, château 1km
PK 76.7     Lock 18 (Fleury)
PK 76.4     Fleury-sur-Loire bridge, mooring for 10 boats, night €9, water, electricity, shower, wifi, small village l/b
PK 74.9     Bridge (Perrière)
PK 72.8     Avril-sur-Loire bridge, small village r/b
PK 72.0     Lock 17 (Abron), Abron aqueduct u/s, basin d/s
PK 71.6     Bridge (Forge-Neuve)
PK 70.9     Lock 16 (Acolin), Acolin aqueduct u/s
PK 70.2     Bridge (Réau)
PK 69.4     Bridge (Beaugy), basin d/s l/b
PK 66.9     Bridge (Châlons)DecizePlan
PK 66.0     Bridge (Vaux)
PK 64.7     Germancy bridge, basin d/s l/b, small quay u/s r/b, water, Decize 1400m
PK 64.4     Junction with embranchement de Decize and Canal du Nivernais, r/b, see under branch for details of Decize port de plaisance
PK 63.2     Bridge (Saulx)
PK 62.8     Lock 15 (Saulx)
PK 60.2     Bridge (Croix-des-Feuillats)
PK 57.4     Bridge (Motte)
PK 56.9     Lock 14 (Motte)
PK 55.6     Cornats bridge, basin u/s l/b
PK 54.2     Lock 13 (Huilerie)
PK 53.4     Bridge (Nogent)
PK 50.8     Bridge (Rue des Gués)
PK 48.5     Lock 12 (Vanneaux), bridge d/s
PK 48.2     Gannay boat harbour in basin l/b (les Vanneaux), 15 berths, night €15, water, electricity, showers, slipway, restaurant, tourist office, village 1000m r/b
PK 46.7     Bridge (Viviers)
PK 45.3     Lock 11 (Gailloux), bridge d/s
PK 43.8     Bridge (Boise)
PK 42.3     Bridge (Rozière)
PK 41.3     Lock 10 (Rozière)
PK 40.5     Bridge (Saint-Martin), Paray-le-Frésil 2000m, l/b
PK 38.6     Bridge (Huilerie)
PK 36.6     Garnat-sur-Engièvre bridge, basin for 10 boats u/s l/b, water, slipway, restaurant in village r/b
PK 35.6     Lock 9 (Clos du May), bridge d/s
PK 33.7     Beaulon bridge, basin d/s l/b, water, village 1000m
PK 33.6     Lock 8 (Beaulon)
PK 32.7     Bridge (Petrot)
PK 31.0     Bridge (Thiel)
PK 28.7     Lock 7 (Bessais), bridge d/s
PK 27.2     Skew bridge (Taillis)
PK 26.0     Bridge (Abbaye de Sept-Fons), moorings u/s r/b
PK 25.2     Junction with Besbre feeder canal, embranchement de Dompierre, l/b, qv for details of Dompierre
PK 25.1     Lock 6 (Besbre), bridge d/s
PK 24.9     Besbre aqueduct, length 86m
PK 23.2     Bridge (Ternat)
PK 22.9     Roudon aqueduct
PK 22.8     Bridge (Prats)
PK 21.8     Bridge (Saligny), Diou 300m
PK 21.4     Diou bridge, basin for 4 boats d/s l/b, water, restaurant, village 400m
PK 20.2     Railway bridge

Digoin Pont Canal

Entering the Digoin aqueduct from the Canal du Centre, this boat has already left the canal, and is now on the Canal latéral à la Loire, as shown on the plan opposite. © Hal Stufft

PK 19.5     Bridge (Cluzeau)
PK 18.6     Lock 5 (Putay), bridge d/s
PK 17.2     Bridge (Theil)
PK 16.6     Lock 4 (Theil)
PK 15.6     Bridge (Enfer), D779
PK 15.0     Pierrefitte-sur-Loire bridge, basin for 5 boats d/s l/b, water, village r/b
PK 14.2     Bridge (Oddins)
PK 12.6     Lock 3 (Oddes), aqueduct u/s
PK 12.3     Bridge (Vesvres)
PK 10.8     Coulanges bridge, small village
PK 10.3     Basin (Coulanges) l/b
PK 9.5     Lock 2 (Thaleine), bridge
PK 8.0     Bridge (Mortillon), D779
PK 6.4     Bridge (Micaudière)
PK 5.5     Bridge (Péage)
PK 5.0     Vouzance aqueductDigoinPlan
PK 3.9     Quay (Fontaine-Saint-Martin) l/b, water
PK 3.7     Bridge (Donjon), D994
PK 2.7     Basin (La Broche), r/b
PK 2.2     Bridge (Chassenard)
PK 2.1     Junction with Canal de Roanne à Digoin l/b
PK 1.3     Chassenard basin, 830m long
PK 1.0     Lock 1 (Digoin), bridge
PK 0.7     Digoin aqueduct over river Loire, 240m long
PK 0.6     Bridge (Perruts)
PK 0.4     Bridge (Charolles), convenient moorings on both banks, no services, town centre 150m
PK 0.1     Footbridge
PK 0.0     Digoinjunction with Canal de Centre, boat harbour and Canalous-Plaisance hire base u/s on Canal du Centre, 45 berths, night €6.20, fuel, water €2, electricity €3.20, showers €1.70, crane 35t, slipway, repairs, town centre 800m (boats up to 12m only, longer boats moor beyond bridge on Canal latéral)

Dompierre branch
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (PK 25), bridge
PK 0.4     Bridge (N79)
PK 0.5     Railway bridge
PK 0.6     Overhead power lines
PK 1.5     Accommodation bridge
PK 2.1     Bridge (caution: lowest on branch)
PK 2.4     Dompierre-sur-Besbre basin, head of navigation, Locaboat hire base (caution: low bridge), 10 visitors’ berths, night €13, diesel, water, electricity, shower, small slipway, pump-out

Decize branch
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (PK 64)
PK 0.1     Lock 16bis (Saint-Maurice), lift 2.50m, bridge
PK 0.2     Decize basin, length 380m, Le Boat hire base, 80 berths, night €9, water, electricity, showers, slipway, restaurant, wifi
PK 0.5     Lock 16ter (Decize), lift up to 4.00m, bridge
PK 0.5     Junction with navigable length of the Loire (for access to the Canal du Nivernais)NeversPlan

Nevers branch
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (PK 96.4)
PK 0.1     Lock 22 (Verville), lift 3.00m, bridge
PK 0.5     Motorway bridge (A77)
PK 0.8     Lock 23 (Rombois)
PK 2.2     Skew bridge (D13), memorial to Pierre Bérégovoy
PK 2.8     Nevers, port de la Jonction, former commercial harbour, quay l/b, pontoon moorings r/b under trees, 70 berths, night €8.80, fuel on request, water, electricity, showers €2, pump-out, restaurant l/b, town centre 1000m

Givry-Fourchambault branch
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (PK 96.4)
PK 0.1     Lock 24bis (Crille), lift 1.20m, bridge, basin d/s
PK 2.3     Givry bridge, basin and moorings u/s r/b
PK 2.4     Lock 24ter (Givry), lift variable
PK 2.4     Junction with the river Loire

Saint-Thibault (Saint-Satur) branch
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (km 155.5), stop gate, bridge
PK 0.1     Saint-Thibault basin and boat harbour (Port de Saint-Satur-Saint-Thibault), 50 berths, night €6.50, water, electricity, showers, crane 6t, repairs, restaurants
PK 0.6     Lock 33ter (closed to navigation)
PK 0.7     Former junction with the river Loire

Châtillon branch (former main line)
PK 0.0     Junction with main line (PK 182.6)
PK 0.0     Lock 39 (L’Étang), bridge
PK 1.5     Bridge (Gannes)
PK 2.3     Lock 40 (La Folie), bridge, municipal gîtes in lock cottage
PK 3.9     Bridge
PK 4.3     Lock 51 (Les Mantelots), bridge, basin u/s
PK 4.3     Junction with the river Loire (impracticable)