This section covers the routes into and through the north-eastern quarter of France, from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. The Rhine and the Moselle are high-capacity waterways, but both offer ample opportunities to escape into ports de plaisance for comforts and services. The Canal de la Meuse a the most beautiful itinerary into France, while the Canal de la Sarre route is also very attractive. The Canal de la Marne au Rhin is the important east-west link across the entire region, now called ‘Grand Est’. The eastern third, crossing the Vosges, is one of the most popular cruising itineraries in France for hire boats. This section includes the Arzviller inclined plane, one of the seven wonders of French waterways.

Three major canals cross the North Sea-Mediterranean watershed to converge on the river Saône. These are almost exclusively devoted to tourism. The least used is the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne (see Central France). The Canal des Vosges and Canal du Rhône au Rhin are more popular routes, not least because they both use splendid navigable rivers for substantial lengths, respectively the ‘Petite’ Saône and the river Doubs.

The latter is also by far the most populated route, not only in the industrial centres of Mulhouse, Belfort, Montbéliard and Besançon, with its splendid citadel, tunnel and navigable river loop, but with sizeable villages and small towns dotted along the valley. At the southern limit of this region is the famous hub of Saint-Jean-de-Losne, gateway to Burgundy and the waterways of central and south-east France.

Rivers and Canals of Ardennes, Alsace and Lorraine


Click on the list (right) to open information pages for each river and canal in this region, including navigation guides, books and PDF downloads.

This regional group of waterway Cruising in Detail guides can also be downloaded as one complete set.

Region Set PDF Download

North-Eastern France

waterway navigation guide download

Complete north-east waterways – Marne+Rhone-Rhine, Vosges, Meuse, Moselle etc – in detail.

Region set : 25€

Each waterway page has been compiled and edited by David Edwards-May (waterways consultant and author of ‘Inland Waterways of France) and Jenny Ruff, and founded on the extensive 7,000km of personal experience of the team since 2003.