Canal de la Robine / de Jonction : Cruising in Detail
Information about the 37km of canal from the Canal du Midi to Port la Nouvelle, on the Mediterranean coast.
The canal – properly called the Embranchement de la Nouvelle – consists of three sections. The oldest, constructed in 1686 (altered subsequently) following the success of the Midi, is the gently winding Canal de la Robine that passes through Narbonne northwards to the River Aude. A century later the straight 5km Canal de Jonction, bordered by umbrella pines, made the connection with the Midi itself, via a short 800m traverse of the river. There are 7 closely-spaced ecluses on the Jonction and 6 ecluses on the Robine, all oval-shaped. That at Salleles is the deepest and trickiest (ascending). All the ecluses are automated; crew will generally need to go on ahead to press the appropriate buttons on the lock-side control panel.
See also general notes(foot of page).
- Approximate minimum depth 1.30m, headroom 3.3m, width 5.45m. These are the ‘book’ values and may vary according to conditions. At its final junction with the harbour at Port la Nouvelle, underneath the bridge there, depths may reduce significantly.
- The canal carries virtually no commercial traffic.
- The speed limit is 8kph, 3kph past moored boats.
- Using a pilot-guide book is strongly recommended: Breil Guides or Fluviacarte (Navicarte) Guides.
PK0 Canal du Midi Junction
Ecluse and footbridge at the junction with the Canal du Midi.
Sallèles d’Aude is a small, pretty village with quayside moorings (04 68 46 92 09) and a range of facilities. There is also the European patchwork centre and Amphoralis, a museum of ancient pottery that holds regular firings in the traditional manner.
The ecluse is deep and tricky, coming up (‘slidey poles’ at extreme ends).
A beautiful ecluse and building group, classified as being of historic and architectural importance and built in 1780 not only as a lock, lock-keeper’s house and administrative offices, but also as a spillway or sluice in connection with the Etang de Capestang, works not completed before the Revolution forced a halt.
To one side is a dry dock, available for hire. Contact the VNF office by the ecluse at Salleles (04 68 46 92 09). The cost is 15€ per day including water and electricity (25€ per day beyond 15 days), plus 180€ to drain the dock; it is popular and booked many months ahead.
The photo above is taken looking upstream, from the Robine junction; the Jonction enters from the right beyond the bridge. It is important not to ‘cut the corner’ to/from the Jonction – there are shallows.
Narbonne has an ancient history and was an important sea-port until silting effectively pushed the coastline ever further away. It has long had river and/or canal access to the sea, since the 17thC this has meant the Canal de la Robine (the canal’s Roman name). It is a very pleasant and significant town, with all facilities including a main-line railway station. We recommend a visit to the Archbishop’s palace and its Donjon tower. It is consequently a popular place for plaisanciers to visit and stay at, especially over the winter; temperatures remain warm although the occasional strong winds can be less pleasant.
PK14 Gua – Below the ecluse there is a long stretch of (quiet and safe) quayside moorings with water and electricity. Hire boat base. Although slightly ‘out of town’ (5-10 minute walk) we think this is the best location.
PK15 Narbonne– From the town ecluse the canal passes under a unique bridge with buildings on top – the arch looks smaller than it actually is (3.3m air draft). Beyond that, there are numerous quayside moorings – contact the Hotel de Ville in the main square. Tel: 04 68 90 30 30.