Canal latéral a la Marne : Cruising in Detail

Information about the 67km of canal from Epernay to Vitry le Francois that connects the River Marne navigation with the Marne-Saone canal.

The canal was opened in 1845 and rises (or falls) 34m through 15 locks. The canal is relatively short and is straight in parts but passes through some pretty villages most of which have opportunities to moor even if there is not a dedicated pontoon available. It also passes through one of the A.C Champagne areas, with Chalons as its focus. The canal does still carry some commercial traffic (about 10 peniches per day at each lock) that can be slow-moving and difficult to overtake – there’s often little point in trying, since peniches have priority at locks and are allowed to start their day earlier than plaisanciers. Better to slow down, leave a comfortable distance and enjoy. The advantage of there still being some peniche traffic is that (by ‘ploughing’ through) they keep the depth maintained.

See also general notes (foot of page).

Basic Information

  • Approximate minimum depth 1.80m, headroom 3.5m, width 5m. These are the ‘book’ values and may vary according to conditions. Navigating the canal should not present any difficulties to normal pleasure craft and it is one of the recommended routes from the Channel to the Mediterranean. It is usually reliably and well supplied with water.
  • Speed limit 8kph. Opening hours during the season 08:00 to 18:00. All ecluses are mechanised, all except two (that have radar sensors) are operated by means of ‘perches’ – rods that hang down over the water before the ecluse; twist to set it working. See lock operation.
  • Using a pilot-guide book is strongly recommended: Breil Guides or Fluviacarte (Navicarte) Guides.

Epernay, port de plaisance


Epernay, the ‘capital of Champagne’ lies 5km beyond the western end of the canal, on the River Marne. See information here.

PK59 Mareuil-sur-Ay

Mareuil sur Ay

Port de Plaisance with all facilities. It is also possible to moor bank-side at the village of Ay PK62.

PK55 Bisseuil

Bisseuil, Canal lateral a la Marne

A really nice little village. Making for Mareuil, we arrived at the pont tournant here after 18:00 and got ‘stranded’, which was no hardship, quite the reverse.

PK53 Tours-sur-Marne

Pretty village – and ecluse. Mooring on the village quay, no services.

PK49 Conde-sur-Marne

Halte with pontoons (and water and electricity when we moored there in 2003). Junction with the Canal de l’Aisne a la Marne.

PK32 Chalons-en-Champagne (sur Marne)

Chalons is the centre of the eastern A.C Champagne area, it is also the capital of the Champagne-Ardennes region. The city is historic and well-resourced. It used to be possible to moor in the canal branch just below the ecluse (lock) and indeed to take a small dinghy (or a pleasure craft trip) from there along the channel that passes in a circular route through the historic heart of the city. However (2013) taking one’s own dinghy may now be prohibited. The ecluse is manned.

Chalons has a Blue Flag rated ‘relais nautique’ port at the Anse du Grand Jard consisting of 12 finger pontoons berths and a few alongside moorings, located in the bassin behind the island immediately above the ecluse. Water, electricity, free WiFi and the capitainerie has showers and a laundry. 8€ per night, up to 10m, 10€ beyond, with longer stay discounts. Tel: – relaisnautique©citesenchampagne,net  (relaisnautique©citesenchampagne,net)   (thanks to ‘Cardo’ for the info.)

PK9 Soulanges

Soulanges, Canal lateral a la Marne

A quiet Halte by grassland at the small village of Soulanges. No services. No shops that we could find, but a pleasant overnight or lunchtime stop.Between here and Chalons there are a number of pleasant village quays and other places to moor.

PK0 Vitry

See Canal Marne a la Saone / Entre Champagne et Bourgogne.

Junction with the Canal Marne au Rhin.