Canal de Briare
Information about the 57km long Canal de Briare
The Canal de Briare was the first major watershed canal to be built in Europe. It originally linked the river Loire at Briare to the river Loing at a point 5km north of Montargis. For centuries it was a lifeline for Paris, food and fuel (wood and coal) being brought to the capital by barge from the upper Loire and Allier valleys. When the Canal latéral à la Loire was enlarged (see historical note below), with its famous aqueduct crossing the Loire at Briare, the connection was made at La Cognardière, 2.6km and four locks from its junction with the Loire. The bypassed section of the canal was initially retained as a branch, then abandoned after commercial traffic ceased. It was restored in the 1980s to allow boats to lock down to the canal basin in the middle of the town, now one of the biggest and most popular ports de plaisance in France. The canal extends 57km from its connection with the Canal du Loing at Buges lock, north of Montargis, to the original lock down into the river Loire. Connection is made with the Canal latéral à la Loire at km 2.6 (La Cognardière, north of Briare). The canal is part of the ‘Bourbonnais’ route from Paris to Lyon.
History – Europe’s first major watershed canal was started under Henri IV in 1604, as part of the public works programme initiated by his minister Sully. The works were in hand by contractor Hugues Cosnier when the king was assassinated in 1610. The project was revived in 1638 with new contractors Guillaume Bouteroue and Jean Guyon and completed in 1642 at a cost of 6.5 million francs. The canal was enlarged under the Becquey programme in 1830-37. The Freycinet modernisation involved practically rebuilding the canal, with a new route bypassing the staircase locks at Rogny and at several other locations.
Key Waterway Dimensions
- Max Beam: 5.20m
- Max Height: 3.50m
- Max Draught: 1.20m
Locks – There are 35 locks, of which 24 rise from the Loing to the summit level at an altitude of 165m, the remaining 11 falling towards the river Loire (of which eight on the main line of navigation and three on the branch down into Briare). Dimensions of the locks on the main line are 39.00 by 5.20m. Those on the branch to Briare are 30.40m by 5.20m. Most of the locks on the main line are equipped for automatic operation.
Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m (1.20m on the branch).
Headroom – All the fixed bridges leave a minimum headroom of 3.50m above the normal water level. There are several lift bridges in the flight of locks between La Cognardière and the summit level.
Towpath – There is a metalled towpath throughout, except on the branch to Briare harbour (crushed stone).
Authority – VNF – Direction interrégionale du Centre-Est – 14, boulevard des Belles Manières, 45200 Montargis (PK 0-18).
– 17, rue du Pont Canal, 45250 Briare (PK 18-54).
Route description, north to south
PK 54.1 Lock 36 (Buges), bridge, junction with Canal du Loing and with Canal d’Orleans, u/s of lock l/b
Halte with pontoons. Site of the first paper mill to print notes for the Bank of France (1804), a long paper manufacturing history. Here is the (blocked off) entrance to the 79km long Canal d’Orleans, abandoned in 1954, but currently in the process of restoration.
PK 53.9 Aqueduct (Solin)
PK 53.4 Lock 35 (Langlée), bridge
PK 53.1 Railway bridge, basin d/s (commercial quays)
PK 52.0 Bridges
PK 52.0 Bridges
PK 51.1 Private commercial quays l/b, mooring possible
PK 50.8 Bridge (Québec), Montargis commercial quays d/s r/b, moorings l/b, no services
PK 50.6 Footbridge
PK 50.5 Bridge (Saint Nicolas)
PK 50.2 Bridge (Loing)
PK 50.1 Lock 34 (Reinette), bridge
PK 49.8 Montargis footbridge, town centre l/b
PK 49.7 Lock 33 (Marolle), water, dry dock u/s l/b
PK 49.2 Bridge (Saint Roch), basin (Port Saint Roch) for 10 boats, d/s l/b, night €5.90, water, electricity, slipway
Montargis port de plaisance with water and electricity. The ‘Venice of the Gatinais’ because of the network of small canals. Haltes also at PK41 Montcresson and PK 35 Montbouy.
PK 48.0 Road bridge (D60 Montargis bypass)
PK 47.8 Pipe bridge
PK 47.7 Bridge (Moulin Bardin)
PK 46.8 Railway bridge
PK 45.4 Lock 32 (Tuilerie), bridge, turning basin d/s l/b, restaurant
PK 43.4 Lock 31 (Sablonnière), bridge, Conflans-sur- Loing 800m
PK 41.5 Lock 30 (Souffre-Douleur)
PK 41.0 Lock 29 (Moulin de Tours), bridge
PK 40.6 Lock 28 (Chesnoy)
PK 40.2 Lock 27 (Montambert), locks 27-30 automated
PK 37.6 Montcresson bridge, quay, turning basin u/s, village 400m
PK 34.7 Bridge (Salles), quay d/s l/b, water and electricity
PK 34.3 Footbridge, castle and gallo-roman ruins l/b
PK 33.1 Footbridge
PK 31.9 Montbouy bridge, quay d/s l/b, water, electricity, restaurant, wifi
PK 31.7 Lock 26 (Montbouy)
PK 30.6 Bridge (Brangers)
PK 29.4 Lock 25 (Lépinoy), bridge
PK 27.8 Footbridge (Ronce)
PK 26.9 Bridge
PK 26.3 Châtillon-Coligny bridge, quay and free mooring for 14 boats u/s r/b, water, electricity, shower €2, slipway, pump-out, restaurant, 12th century castle in village
Port de plaisance tel 02 38 92 55 51 water, electricity and services
PK 25.8 Lock 24 (Châtillon)
PK 25.3 Turning basin r/b
PK 25.0 Lock 23 (Gazon)
PK 24.5 Lock 22 (Briquemault), lift bridge
PK 21.8 Lock 21 (Moulin Brûlé), bridge
PK 21.2 Lock 20 (Picardie)
PK 20.7 Lock 19 (Dammarie-sur-Loing)
PK 20.5 Dammarie-sur-Loing bridge, quay u/s r/b
PK 19.5 Bridge (Bruxelles)
PK 18.1 Turning basin and moorings r/b
PK 16.4 Bridge, boat harbour, mooring for 20 boats, night €11, water, electricity, shower, repairs, restaurant, wifi
PK 16.2 Rogny basin r/b (Port des Lancières), Tourisme Fluvial du Centre hire base, moorings 10 boats, night €10, water €5, electricity €5, shower €4, crane 5t, slipway, shops, quayside restaurant
Two ports de plaisance 08 77 10 56 46 and 03 86 74 55 92. The village is noted for the old staircase lock (see photo), replaced more than a century ago by a series of écluses and now a memorable attraction in the parkland landscape.
PK 16.1 Lock 18 (Sainte Barbe), bridge, mooring u/s l/b
PK 15.8 Lock 17 (Rogny), bridge, original 17th century flight of seven (staircase) locks, r/b
PK 15.5 Lock 16 (Chantepinot)
PK 15.2 Lock 15 (Saint Joseph)
PK 14.9 Lock 14 (Racault), bridge
PK 14.4 Lock 13 (Javacière), end of summit level
PK 13.7 Bridge (Noue)
PK 12.7 Bridge (Rondeau), grain loading quay
PK 9.8 Lock 12 (Gazonne), lift bridge, beginning of summit level
PK 8.8 Lock 11 (Petit Chaloy), lift bridge, turning basin, quay u/s l/b
PK 8.4 Lock 10 (Notre-Dame)
PK 8.1 Lock 9 (Fées), lift bridge, quay u/s r/b
PK 7.6 Ouzouër-sur-Trézée bridge, free mooring for 12 boats, water, electricity, shower, village r/b
Halte, long length of quay, water and electricity.
PK 7.1 Lock 8 (Moulin Neuf), lift bridge, quay u/s r/b
PK 6.6 Feeder crosses canal on aqueduct
PK 6.1 Turning basin
PK 5.9 Lock 6 (Courenvaux), lift bridge, quay d/s r/b
PK 5.3 Lock 7 (Ouzouer-sur-Trézée), locks 7-18 automated, quay u/s l/b
PK 4.7 Lock 5 (Venon), lift bridge
PK 4.5 Former quay (Petit Moulin) r/b
PK 2.8 Former quay (Belleau) r/b
PK 2.7 Bridge (A77 motorway)
PK 2.6 Lock 4 (La Cognardière), footbridge
PK 2.6 Junction with Canal latéral à la Loire
PK 1.8 Bridge (D7)
PK 1.6 Lock 3 (La Place), bridge
PK 1.0 Railway bridge
PK 0.7 Lock 2 (Briare), bridge
PK 0.3 Briare basin, boat harbour with quay, visitor moorings for 3 boats, Charmes Nautiques hire base, night €11.30, diesel, water, electricity, shower, slipway, pump-out, repairs, restaurants, wifi, trip boats town centre 400m
This is the extremely popular port de plaisance in the town centre on the ‘dead end’ section of the canal. The other is on the Canal latéral à la Loire at PK194. (See also under this canal for the famous Briare aqueduct.) The capitaine Richard Hourdequin assisted by Dorothy Maas may direct you to moorings upstream (photo right) or (mainly) downstream of écluse #2 and the main road bridge.
Over-wintering community, friendly and helpful.
PK 0.1 Bridge (Baraban)
PK 0.0 Lock 1 (Baraban), junction with river Loire
The lock has been restored but is impracticable except when the Loire is relatively high, hence not easy to navigate. This is unfortunate, because the site is superb and some mixing of canal craft and traditional vessels on the Loire in Briare would make the site even more appealing.
Cruises, holidays and vacations on the Canal de Briare
HOTEL BARGE CRUISES
Hotel barges are elegant and supremely comfortable, converted from traditional vessels or created as cruising boutique hotels from new. You’ll experience the smoothest of relaxing week-long vacations in high style looked after by an expert captain, professional masterchef, knowledgeable local excursions guide and attentive English-speaking cabin staff.
- Hotel Barge “C’est la Vie”
- Hotel Barge “Renaissance”
- Hotel Barge “Meanderer”
- Hotel Barge “L’Art de Vivre”
- Hotel Barge “Johanna”
SELF-DRIVE CANAL BOAT VACATIONS
Hiring your own cruising boat is an ideal way to explore and experience the pleasures and treasures that the French waterways have to offer. Hire boats come in different sizes, to suit a couple, a family or you and your friends, and your ‘hands on the wheel’ holiday can be arranged from start to finish by any of the reputable companies to be found on french-waterways.com.