Information about the 88km long Canal des Ardennes

Ardennes location map France

13th June 2018

The Canal des Ardennes branches off from the canalised river Meuse (formerly the ‘northern branch of the Canal de l’Est’) at Pont-à-Bar, a short distance upstream from Charleville-Mézières. After crossing the watershed between the rivers Meuse and Aisne it drops down the Aisne valley to connect with the Canal latéral à l’Aisne at Vieux-lès-Asfeld. The distance from the Meuse to the Canal latéral à l’Aisne is 88km. Originally it was 5.5 km longer, entering the Aisne further downstream, but this section was bypassed by the lateral canal in 1841. A 12km long branch leads from Semuy to the small town of Vouziers, further up the Aisne valley. Officially the canal is divided into two lengths, with distances counted separately on the watershed link, from Pont-à-Bar to Semuy, and on the canal following the Aisne valley, from Vouziers to Vieux-lès-Asfeld. It is thought more convenient here to carry the distance through from one end to the other, and to treat the section from Semuy to Vouziers as a branch.

At Saint-Aignan there is a tunnel, 197m in length, allowing one-way traffic only. The order of passage is that of arrival at the basin at the downstream end of the tunnel, or at the mooring posts placed at the upstream end, at which points mooring is only authorised pending entry into the tunnel. There is no traffic control at this tunnel, hence the importance of carrying the usual lights, to be clearly visible to boats arriving at the opposite tunnel entrance.Ardennes region map

History – The canal was designed under the Revolution in the period 1793-1801 by the engineer Claude Deschamps, as a strategic connection between the rivers Aisne and Meuse. The designs were taken up in 1823 by the same engineer, and the canal opened in 1831. It was enlarged for 38m barges in 1846. Although it carries little commercial traffic, it remains in the national priority network. This designation does not apply to the Vouziers Branch, which is unfortunately threatened with closure. Boaters are encouraged to use this branch, also to help reduce weed growth during the summer months. The canal has a hire base at the Meuse end, but most clients stay on the Meuse. It is therefore mainly used by private boats in transit.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 5.20m
  • Max Height: 3.50m
  • Max Draught: 1.80m


Locks There are 44 locks between Pont-à-Bar and Vieux-lès-Asfeld, of which 7 fall towards the Meuse and the remaining 37 towards the Aisne. There are 4 locks on the branch to Vouziers. All have standard dimensions of 38.50 by 5.20m. They are all automatic except for lock 27 (Rilly) on the Aisne side which is mechanised, and operated by a duty lock-keeper. Note that the sequence of operation of the flights of locks assumes that a boat entering the first lock will continue throughout the flight without interruption. This does not mean that boaters are not free to stop at will, but to avoid disrupting the operating cycle of the entire flight, it is essential in this case to advise the control centre of your intention (or walk back to the lock you have just left and use the telephone beside the control cabin). The four locks on the Vouziers branch are manually operated, and advance notice is to be given for navigation on Sundays.

Draught The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m. This is still the official available depth on the Vouziers Branch, but weed growth is a serious problem on the branch, and makes progress almost impossible during the summer months.

Headroom The maximum authorised air draught is 3.50m.

Towpath There is a towpath throughout, but it is only metalled and maintained on the Aisne side of the summit. There are plans to lay a cycle route along the canal, extending the Trans-Ardennes route on the Canal de la Meuse.

Authority VNF – Direction territoriale Bassin de la Seine
–    Quai Malmy, BP 5114 – 08303 Rethel

Click to enlarge

Ardennes waterway strip

Route description

PK 0.0     Junction with Canal de la Meuse (PK 96)
PK 0.1     Lock 7 (Meuse), bridge
PK 0.9     Lock 6 (Pont-à-Bar), bridge (D764), quay and Ardennes Nautisme hire base d/s r/b, night €7.50, water, electricity, diesel, slipway, crane 20t, repairs, restaurant on barge
PK 3.0     Hannogne-Saint-Martin bridge, village 500m l/b
PK 6.0     Lock 5 (Saint-Aignan)
PK 6.1     Lock 4 (Saint-Aignan), bridge, turning basin and quay d/s r/b, village 800m r/b
PK 6.3     Saint-Aignan tunnel (length 196.50m)
PK 8.3     Omicourt bridge, quay d/s l/b, small village l/bPont-a-Bar junction plan Canal des Ardennes
PK 12.0     Lock 3 (Malmy), bridge, quay u/s, r/b, Chémery-sur-Bar 1000m r/b
PK 13.0     Turning basin l/b
PK 14.7     Bridge (Morteau)
PK 15.8     Ambly-sur-Bar bridge, quays u/s and d/s
PK 16.9     Lock 2 (Cassine), bridge, small village l/b
PK 20.6     Lock 1 (Sauville), start of summit level, bridge, village 1700m l/b
PK 20.8     Aqueduct
PK 23.0     Tannay bridge, village 1400m east
PK 24.8     Bridge (Pont-Bar), quay
PK 28.4     Skew bridge
PK 28.5     Le Chesne bridge, quay d/s r/b, water, electricity, slipway, turning basin, village l/b
PK 30.1     Lock 1 (Chesne), VHF 20, bridge, water, end of summit level
PK 30.3     Lock 2 (Chesne), turning basin d/s

Canal des Ardennes Lock Chesne
Locks 1 and 2 on the Chesne flight. It is not clear how the boat leaving Lock 1 is intended to give way to the oncoming boat!

PK 30.5     Lock 3 (Chesne), bridge
PK 30.8     Lock 4 (Chesne)
PK 30.9     Lock 5 (Montgon)
PK 31.3     Lock 6 (Montgon)
PK 31.5     Lock 7 (Montgon)
PK 31.8     Lock 8 (Montgon)
PK 32.1     Lock 9 (Montgon)
PK 32.4     Lock 10 (Montgon)
PK 32.7     Lock 11 (Montgon), bridge, village 600m l/b
PK 33.0     Lock 12 (Montgon)
PK 33.1     Lock 13 (Montgon)
PK 33.4     Lock 14 (Montgon), bridge, village 500m l/b
PK 33.9     Lock 15 (Montgon)
PK 34.2     Lock 16 (Montgon)
PK 34.3     Lock 17 (Neuville-Day)
PK 34.7     Lock 18 (Neuville-Day)
PK 35.0     Lock 19 (Neuville-Day)
PK 35.3     Neuville-Day quay r/b, village 800m r/b
PK 35.4     Lock 20 (Neuville-Day), bridge
PK 35.8     Lock 21 (Neuville-Day)
PK 36.5     Lock 22 (Neuville-Day), bridge
PK 37.2     Lock 23 (Semuy), bridge
PK 37.5     Lock 24 (Semuy)
PK 37.9     Lock 25 (Semuy)
PK 38.2     Semuy bridge, village r/b
PK 38.5     Lock 26 (Semuy), VHF 20
PK 38.6     Navigation enters river Aisne
PK 39.1     Navigation re-enters canal
PK 39.2     Lock 27 (Rilly), bridge, junction with Vouziers branch (d/s of lock 4)
PK 40.0     Railway bridge (Sud des Ardennes tourist line)
PK 40.1     Rilly-sur-Aisne bridge, small village 300m l/b
PK 44.0     Lock 5 (Attigny), bridge, private quay u/s r/b
PK 44.9     Attigny bridge, quay d/s l/b, free mooring for 20 boats, water, restaurant, village with shops and services l/b
PK 45.8     Private bridge (railway siding)
PK 47.2     Lock 6 (Givry), bridge, water
PK 48.2     Givry bridge, quay d/s r/b, small village l/b
PK 50.3     Private quay r/b
PK 52.9     Ambly-Fleury bridge, quay d/s r/b, village r/b
PK 55.0     Lock 7 (Seuil), bridge, small village 600m l/b
PK 57.7     Lock 8 (Thugny), bridge
PK 57.8     Thugny-Trugny quay r/b, village 600m l/b
PK 60.5     Lock 9 (Biermes), bridge
PK 60.7     Biermes quay r/b, village 800m l/b over bridge
PK 61.2     Private quay l/b
PK 63.1     Turning basin r/b
PK 63.2     Railway bridge
PK 63.6     Rethel bridge, mooring for 10 boats on quay u/s r/b, night €5.50, water, electricity, showers, town 800m r/b
PK 64.9     Motorway bridge (A34)
PK 65.0     Footbridge
PK 65.6     Lock 10 (Acy-Romance), bridge
PK 67.8     Lock 11 (Nanteuil), bridge
PK 68.2     Nanteuil-sur-Aisne quay and small village l/b
PK 70.8     Private quay r/b (Port-Arthur)
PK 73.0     Château-Porcien bridge, quay d/s r/b, village 500m r/b
PK 75.3     Lock 12 (Pargny), bridge
PK 78.3     Bridge (Blanzy)
PK 80.4     Balham bridge, quay u/s r/b, small village 400m r/b, Blanzy-la-Salonnaise 500m l/b
PK 83.4     Lock 13 (Asfeld), bridge, private quays u/s r/b
PK 85.1     Asfeld bridge, quay d/s r/b, village 700m l/b
PK 86.9     Vieux-lès-Asfeld bridge, quay u/s l/b, village 300m l/b
PK 87.9     Lock 14 (Vieux-lès-Asfeld), bridge
PK 88.0     Junction with Canal latéral à l’Aisne

Embranchement de Vouziers
PK 0.0     Vouziers bridge, head of navigation, quays d/s l/b, small town l/b

Semuy Canal des Ardennes junction plan

PK 0.5     Lock 1 (Vouziers), water, weir d/s r/b
PK 1.4     Bridge (Condé-les-Vouziers), quay d/s l/b
PK 3.4     Vrizy bridge, quay d/s l/b, village 700m l/b
PK 4.7     Lock 2 (Vrizy), bridge
PK 8.1     Lock 3 (Voncq), bridge, quay u/s l/b, village 1500m r/b
PK 11.3     Bridge (Rilly), quay d/s l/b, Semuy 400m r/b
PK 12.1     Lock 4 (Rilly), bridge, junction with main line (PK 39)

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Base locations map – Ardennes