Information about the 12km of the river Hérault from Bessan to the Mediterranean at Grau d’Agde

The river Hérault is navigable over a distance of 12km from Bessan to the Mediterranean at Le Grau d’Agde. It is a river navigation over a distance of 7km upstream of Agde, part of its course being used by the Canal du Midi. Downstream of Agde it is a maritime waterway. The weir at Agde is bypassed by a short length of the canal, the round lock at Agde and the branch to the Hérault maritime.

herault-regHistoryA Mediterranean river with a steep gradient, the Hérault was never a carrier of trade. It was exploited from the Middle Ages for milling, and its history as a navigation is entirely related to the Canal du Midi, which created this navigable length.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max beam: 5.45m
  • Max height: 4.50m
  • Max draught: 1.50m

Local Waterway Links

The river Hérault is split into two very different waterways by the weir in Agde, necessarily bypassed by the Canal du Midi and its Hérault branch. From Agde to the sea is a maritime channel, like many of the others along the Mediterranean coast, lined with fishing, sailing and all kinds of boats for working on or enjoying the Grand Bleu. Above the Canal du Midi junction at the Prades flood lock, it becomes another of those streams (like the Petit-Rhône or the Lez) with an Amazonian feel to it, with no channel markings and care required in case of hidden branches or other obstacles.

None. Agde weir is bypassed by the round lock (see plan).

There is a substantial depth in the river, normally 2.90m, but this is reduced to 1.50m in the Canal du Midi and its branch to the Hérault maritime.

The bridges give a minimum headroom of 5.70m above normal water level. The railway bridge over the branch of the Canal du Midi has a headroom of 4.20m.

VNF – Direction territoriale Sud-Ouest, Pont Rouge, Avenue du Prado, 34500 Béziers

Click to enlarge


Route description

PK 0.0    Bessan bridge, head of navigation, village 700m r/b
Pontoons and café, the Roman bridge nearby, hotel barges occasionally reach Bessan and turn round here.
PK 0.7    Private quay r/b
PK 5.6    Backwater l/b, not navigable
PK 6.0    Junction with Canal du Midi  (towards Sète), l/b
PK 6.8    Junction with Canal du Midi  (towards Toulouse), r/b (to be used by all boats to bypass the weir on the river)
PK 7.0    Railway bridge (on Hérault)
PK 7.2    Weir (Barrage du Moulin)
PK 7.4    Junction with embranchement maritime de l’Hérault par le Canal du Midi , r/b
PK 7.5    Agde bridge, quay and town centre d/s l/b
Historic town founded by the Greeks, well worth a visit.
PK 9.2    New road bridge (D612, Agde bypass), air draught 12m
PK 11.1    Boatyard Constructions Navales J. Allemand l/b

Allemand boatyard
The Allemand boatyard, PK 11

One of the best-known boatyards in the Midi. The yard builds boats, undertakes repairs and maintenance, has a travelift big enough for péniches (cost approximately €370 each way for a 24m barge) and a large hardstanding area. The yard un-masts and re-masts (cost €32 per quarter hour), and has a well-stocked chandlery ‘La Boutique Marine’. Its reputation is such that they are always busy and booking ahead is advisable. email
AgdePlanPK 12.0    Le Grau d’Agde, river reaches the Mediterranean
Agde’s coastal harbour is an excellent place to enter or leave the waterway system. Good facilities. The harbour entrance itself is a short sea voyage from one of Europe’s biggest marina complexes, Cap d’Agde, where many marine services are available. Many boaters prefer to use the river boatyard, but it is also possible to un-mast or re-mast at Cap d’Agde and – providing conditions are reasonably calm and the mast secured – make the short voyage to and from Grau d’Agde with the mast down.