Information about the 237km long Canal du Rhône au Rhin


The Canal du Rhône au Rhin, built between 1784 and 1833, is a magnificently scenic route through the Jura, with wooded cliffs and blueish ranges of hills in the background. The two historic towns, Dole and Besançon, both have spectacular settings. It is used by large numbers of boats heading south from Germany and Switzerland to the Mediterranean, but it is also a cruising waterway in its own right, especially in the picturesque valley of the Doubs. Commercial traffic in 38.50m barges is very slight. The long-standing project to open up a new large-scale waterway on the line of the canal, providing a continuous route for Rhine shipping from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, has been abandoned (see Introduction).

The canal links the Saône at Saint-Symphorien, 4km upstream of the junction with the Canal de Bourgogne at Saint-Jean-de-Losne, to the upper Rhine (in fact the Ottmarsheim reach of the Grand Canal d’Alsace) at Niffer (PK 185). The length of the canal is 237km.

From Saint-Symphorien, a 17km canal section leads to the Doubs. Navigation then uses the course of this river for long sections as far as l’Isle-sur-le-Doubs (PK 141). From l’Isle-sur-le-Doubs to Mulhouse (PK 224) navigation is almost exclusively in man-made cut and crosses the Saône-Rhine watershed by a summit level at an altitude of 340m. From Mulhouse to Niffer, navigation follows the former Kembs-Niffer branch of the canal, which was upgraded to the 1350-tonne barge standard as part of the Upper Rhine develop­ment works. Officially the canal starts at the Saône and ends at the Rhine, but the distance table is here presented in the reverse direction, to make it more comprehensible for navigators heading down the Doubs. This requires care in the river sections, where the fixed masonry weirs are difficult to see for boats heading downstream. However, navigation aids have been improved considerably in recent years.

Separate descriptions and distance tables are given for the following branches: the Belfort branch, 10km long, connecting with the through route at km 172, the northern branch, 66km long, extending from Neuf-Brisach to the Dusuzeau basin in the port of Strasbourg, and the Colmar branch (Canal de Colmar), 23km long. The last two branches are separate from the main route from the Saône to the Rhine, and thus do not appear on the general map on these pages. Reference should be made to the map of the Rhine.


On the through route there are two tunnels, at Thoraise (PK 59) and under the citadel at Besançon (PK 74), although boaters will often prefer to cruise through the town. Thoraise tunnel is 185m long, while that at Besançon is 394m long. Both are for one-way traffic only (6m wide). There are also numerous narrow bridge-holes (as little as 5.18m wide), aqueducts and cuttings allowing one-way passage only.

The river Ill, a tributary of the Rhine, is canalised over a length of 11km through the Alsace plain and the city of Strasbourg, providing a link from the northern branch of the Canal du Rhône au Rhin at km 33.9 to the Canal de la Marne au Rhin north of Strasbourg at km 311.6. This link is 4.5km long and the section through Strasbourg, where the Ill divides into two arms flowing round the historic centre, is possibly the most attractive urban waterway in France.

The ‘dead end’ section of the Ill upstream of this cross-Strasbourg link is 8.3km long, leading to Ostwald, where factories and a large gravel pit formerly made use of water transport. This section also gave access to the now disused Canal de la Bruch. It is navigated at the users’ risk, while navigation on the cross-Strasbourg link is not encouraged by the Strasbourg Port Authority. In practice, private boats are allowed to cruise downstream only through the Petite-France, thus using Lock A in the opposite direction to the incessant flow of trip-boats. The navigable length of the river is shown on the detailed plan of Strasbourg opposite.

History – The first section of the Canal de Franche-Comté (as it was then called) was authorised by Burgundy Council in 1783 and completed in 1802 from the Saône to Dôle. Napoleon was seeking to develop inland waterway connections throughout the country, and the Rhône-Rhine link was of such strategic importance that he gave his name to the project. He wrote to Crétet, director of Ponts et Chaussées in 1805: ‘It is not palaces or buildings the Empire needs: it is canals and navigable rivers’. Hence the Canal Napoléon. The problem was funding. The Emperor’s administration conceived the predecessor of today’s public-private partnership model, selling existing canals to private companies, to provide funds for new links. The proceeds were diverted for the war effort, and it was not until the Becquey programme was finalised in 1821 that this vital project, now renamed ‘Canal Monsieur’, could be reactivated by the canal company created for this purpose, and completed in 1833 by the engineer Claude-François Perret. Upgrading to Freycinet standards started in 1882, and the summit level was lowered, reducing the number of locks. Works were completed in 1904. The new high-capacity Rhine-Rhône waterway would have made the canal obsolete, but the environment minister Dominique Voynet cancelled that project in 1997. The Government then funded – as compensation – the backlog of maintenance works and other improvements. The canal is to be transferred to the regions, but no timetable has been set for this operation.

The Ill has been navigated since time immemorial. Strasbourg was established on its islands, and from here upstream the river was equipped with pertuis (flash locks) for nearly 100km. The present navigation was incorporated into the city’s fortifications as early as the 11th century. In the 14th century the ponts couverts were built to protect the city. Vauban built his famous barrage in the late 17th century to further protect the city. The existing locks were built at the turn of the 19th century and enlarged under the Becquey programme (1820-1830).

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 5.25m
  • Max Height: 3.50m
  • Max Draught: 1.80m


Locks – There are 112 locks, of which 72 fall towards the Saône (including two double staircase locks), the remaining 40 towards the Rhine. There are also four flood locks, normally open to navigation, generally situated at the entrances to certain lock-cuts in the Doubs valley. The lock numbers do not conform to these totals, because of various changes made since the canal was first built. At the end of the last century the summit level was lowered and the first locks on either side eliminated.
More recently, locks 12 and 13 at Sochaux were replaced by a single lock at the end of a section upgraded to high-capacity standards as part of the (now abandoned) Rhone-Rhine waterway past the Peugeot car factory. The first 68 locks from Saint-Symphorien to km 175 (Allenjoie) are 38.70 by 5.25m. The last five up to the summit level are of larger dimensions (40.70 by 6.28m). The 39 down from the summit level to Mulhouse are 38.80 by 5.10m, while the last locks at Niffer are of Rhine barge dimensions (new chamber 190 by 12m and old chamber 85 by 12m).

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom – The maximum authorised air draught is 3.50m, reduced to 3.40m above the highest navigable water level when the Doubs is in flood.

Tunnel Canal du Rhone au Rhin
Entering Thoraise tunnel with its illuminations © Phileas Fotos/Doc VNF

Regulations – Maximum permitted speed is 10km/h in the river sections and 6km/h in canal sections.

Towpath – None

Authority – VNF – Direction territoriale Strasbourg
–    Subdivision de Belfort: 6, rue Alfred Engel, BP 06, 90800 Bavilliers (PK 0-65)

VNF – Direction territoriale Rhône-Saône
–    Subdivision de la Vallée du Doubs: Moulin Saint-Paul, 18, avenue Goulard, BP 429, 25019 Besançon cedex (PK 65-177)
–    Subdivision de Dole: 2, rue Général Béthouard, BP 83, 39108 Dole (PK 177-237)

Boucle de Besançon

This loop provides an alternative route for boats through the attractive town, bypassing the 500m length of the through route of the canal through the Citadelle tunnel. The loop is 4km long, from the upstream tunnel entrance (flood gate 50a) to the downstream entrance (lock 50, Tarragnoz), and includes lock 51a (Saint-Paul). Navigational characteristics are the same as for the rest of the canal.

Embranchement de Belfort

The Belfort branch leaves the through route at km 172, near Allenjoie, and may be navigated up to km 10 at Botans, on the outskirts of Belfort, where a motorway cuts through the canal. The canal was originally projected to extend through a series of watersheds and connect with the Saône at Port-sur-Saône. Works were completed up to the main summit level, with 13 locks, 20.6 km beyond Botans. The first lock on the Saône side was also built, as well as two tunnels on the summit level, before the project was abandoned.

Locks – There are 5 locks, with minimum dimensions 38.70 by 5.20m.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom – The bridges offer a minimum headroom of 3.50m.

Towpath – There is a towpath throughout the length remaining open to navigation.

Authority – VNF – Direction interrégionale de Strasbourg
– Subdivision de Belfort: 6, rue Alfred Engel, BP 06, 90800 Bavilliers

Branche Nord (Strasbourg to Neuf-Brisach)

The northern branch of the Canal du Rhône au Rhin originally ran from the through route at Mulhouse (PK 13.5 in the following table) to Strasbourg, a distance of 96km. A motorway junction north of Mulhouse severed the old canal, but Alsace regional council is funding with VNF the restoration of two abandoned lengths of the canal, which will soon extend over a length of 66 km from Strasbourg to the attractive fortified town of Neuf-Brisach. This is presented here as a waterway in its own right, from Strasbourg to Neuf-Brisach, while the two connections to the Rhine and the branch to Colmar are given as branches. The works were interrupted in late 2007 when it was discovered that full restoration was going to cost almost double the originally budgeted amount of €7M. The Région Alsace was also concerned that operation and maintenance was going to be entirely at the local authorities’ expense, without any contribution or staff available from the French Government, either directly or through VNF. This is one of the many problematical situations caused by the current policy of transferring secondary inland waterways to regional or local authorities (see Introduction). Works are now expected to be restarted in 2010, and the main section giving access to Colmar could be reopened by 2012. The extension to Neuf-Brisach may be expected to programmed in the following years.

Lock control cabins Rhone au Rhin
Contrasts in lock control cabins at Niffer: on the left, the building designed by Le Corbusier ca. 1960 for the first large lock (which replaced the old canal from Huningue); right, the less modest statement by the Italian architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia, for the new lock opened in 1996. © Pistachio 67 and Eric Pitisi

Locks – There are 12 locks in this section, plus a flood lock (normally open) at the crossing of the Ill flood diversion canal (PK 17). The new locks on branches connecting with the Rhine measure 40 by 6.00m. The other locks are 38.80m long and 5.10m wide.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom – The maximum authorised air draught is 3.70m.

Towpath – There is a towpath throughout.

Authority – VNF – Direction interrégionale de Strasbourg – subdivision de Strasbourg Canaux
–    46 quai Jacoutot, 67000 Strasbourg

Embranchement de Colmar

The original branch of the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, 13km long, connects to the Rhine opposite Breisach by a 3km length of the former canal maintained for navigation and a 6km link canal (the embranchement de Neuf-Breisach) built as part of the upper Rhine development works. The actual distance from the Rhine to the basin in Colmar is covered by a single distance table for convenience.

Locks – There are 3 locks. The new lock on the Neuf-Breisach link canal measures 40 by 6.00m. The second lock (38.80 by 5.10m) is on the former through route of the canal, while the third (38.85 by 5.30m) is at the crossing of the river Ill near Colmar.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom – The fixed bridges offer a minimum headroom of 3.70m.

Towpath – There is a towpath throughout.

Authority – VNF – Direction interrégionale de Strasbourg – subdivision de Colmar-Rhin
–    60 rue du Grillenbreit, 68021 Colmar cedex



Locks – There are two locks, A and B, one on each of the alternative routes through Strasbourg. The first is on the Ill in the heart of the Petite France district, while the second is on the Canal des Faux Remparts The latter was reopened in the 1980s to allow the Strasbourg trip-boats to make the round cruise through the city. Lock C gives access to the 400m long ‘dead end’ section of the river north of the level junction with the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. It is used only by waterway maintenance vessels. Lock dimensions are 34.85m by 5.32m. Trip-boats have priority at the locks.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m, but silting has occurred on the upper reaches towards Ostwald, and caution is required when heading upstream from the junction with the Canal du Rhône au Rhin.

Headroom – The least headroom on the cross-Strasbourg link is 3.90m, reduced to 3.50m above highest navigable water level. On the upper reaches, headroom is reduced to 3.15m (2.60m above highest navigable water level).

Towpath – There is no towpath, but attractive riverside walks have been developed throughout the navig­able ring in Strasbourg.

Authority – VNF – Direction interrégionale de Strasbourg

– 46, quai Jacoutot, 67000 Strasbourg (PK 8.2-12.8)

Région Alsace, Service de l’Ill

– Parc du Murgiessen, 67150 Erstein (PK 0-8.2)

Click to enlarge

Route description

PK 0.0    Two junctions with the Grand Canal d’Alsace, Ottmarsheim reach, u/s entrance to smaller lock, d/s entrance to new high-capacity lock
PK 0.2    Bridge (d468) over both branches
PK 0.3    Niffer old lock on u/s branch, bridge, private harbour, 32 berths, water, electricity, shower, slipway

The smaller upstream Niffer lock is used by pleasure craft and has a control building designed in 1960 by the famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. There are pleasant moorings just beyond it; if coming from Mulhouse confirm your intention to stay there rather than pass the lock to the éclusier via VHF 22. The much larger lock to the right (north) was built in 1995 in an even more striking style.

PK 0.5    Junction with Huningue branch, navigable 2km to Kembs boat harbour, 54 berths, night €12, water, electricity, shower
PK 1.1    Footbridge
PK 1.2    Niffer new lock on d/s branch, VHF 22, village 1000m r/b, bridge
PK 1.4    Junction of the two lock-cuts
PK 1.6    Overhead power line
PK 3.4    Bridge (Route de Petit Landau)
PK 9.5    Bridge (Bouc), D108
PK 11.7    Motorway bridge (A35), Peugeot factory d/s l/b
PK 13.3    Railway bridge
PK 13.5    Île Napoleon basin, junction with former through route, chandlery, bridgeJunction Plan Canal du Rhone au Rhin

The canal originally proceeded north from this point to Colmar and then Strasbourg. It has been replaced by the Grand Canal d’Alsace (River Rhine lateral canal) link.

PK 14.3    Oil terminal basin, short-term mooring
PK 14.9    Water point and customs post, l/b
PK 15.4    Railway bridge
PK 15.8    Bridge
PK 16.3    Basin l/b (length 1900m, silted up, no access)
PK 16.4    Former lock, bridge (Bâle)
PK 16.8    New lock 41, bridge

The éclusier at this lock, close to the centre of Mulhouse, controls the chain westwards from locks 39 to 28 at PK31.7. He needs to be informed during the day before (up to 16:00) of the planned departure time from Mulhouse.

PK 17.9    Bridge (Bonnes Gens)
PK 18.1    Tunnel (canal covered for 140m in front of SNCF railway station, and tramway line 1)
PK 18.2    Mulhouse basin l/b, 50 berths, night €9, water, electricity, shower, pump-out, town centre 500m l/b

Port de Plaisance in the Vieux Bassin, all facilities. Railway museum, Electrical engineering museum, ceramics museum and textile museum. And home of the Schlumph brothers’ phenomenal Bugatti Museum.

PK 18.3    Bridge (Jules Ehrmann)
PK 18.5    Bridge (Altkirch)
PK 18.9    Bridge (Noyers)
PK 19.1    Bridge (Fonderie)
PK 19.2    Railway bridge, footbridge
PK 19.4    Lock 39, start of mobile lock-keeper service
PK 20.4    Lock 38, bridge
PK 21.7    Lock 37, bridge, Brunstatt r/b
PK 21.8    Bridge (d433)
PK 22.7    Lock 36, bridge
PK 23.2    Turning basin
PK 24.3    Lift bridge
PK 24.5    Lock 35
PK 24.9    Zillisheim lift bridge, village r/bMulhousePlan
PK 25.8    Lock 34, bridge
PK 27.0    Lock 33
PK 28.3    Lock 32 (flood lock), bridge and footbdirge, moorings d/s r/b, no services, bollards u/s, Illfurth 400m r/b
PK 29.0    Lock 31
PK 30.2    Lock 30, bridge, Heidwiller r/b
PK 31.0    Lock 29, bridge
PK 31.7    Lock 28, change of mobile lock-keepers
PK 31.9    Bridge (d466)
PK 33.3    Lock 27, bridge
PK 34.1    Lock 26, bridge
PK 35.3    Lock 25, bridge, mooring bollards d/s, Eglingen 100m r/b
PK 35.9    Lock 24
PK 37.4    Bridge
PK 37.5    Lock 23
PK 37.7    Hagenbach quay r/b, no services
PK 38.4    Lock 22
PK 38.9    Lock 21, footbridge
PK 39.4    Lock 20
PK 40.1    Lock 19, bridge
PK 40.8    Lock 18, bridge
PK 41.3    Lock 17, end of mobile lock-keeper’s service
PK 41.6    Dannemarie bridge, boat harbour d/s, 30 berths, night €8, water, electricity, showers, slipway, not suitable for larger vessels which can moor to grass bank close to bridge opposite restaurant, village 700m r/bMulhouse-PaulChiscop

Recommended port de plaisance

PK 41.7    Lock 16
PK 41.8    Aqueduct
PK 42.2    Lock 15, bridge, beginning of mobile lock- keepers’ service
PK 42.6    Lock 14, D419 parallel to r/b
PK 43.6    Lock 13, bridge, Retzwiller r/b
PK 44.0    Lock 12, beginning of regulated flight
PK 44.4    Lock 11
PK 44.8    Lock 10
PK 45.0    Lock 9
PK 45.2    Lock 8
PK 45.4    Lock 7
PK 45.6    Lock 6
PK 45.7    Lock 5
PK 45.9    Lock 4
PK 46.1    Lock 3
PK 46.2    Valdieu bridge (d419) and railway bridge, basin l/b
PK 46.3    Lock 2, beginning of summit level, end of flight and mobile lock keepers’ service
PK 49.0    Montreux-Vieux bridge, village 200m north
PK 49.9    Turning basin, bollards, no services
PK 51.6    Lock 3, bridge, end of summit level, Montreux-Château 400m, moorings u/s for 4 boats, night €5, water, electricity

Good moorings with services. Quayside also at Montreux-Vieux. Locks 3 to 15 (Dannemarie) are a chain and an éclusier will accompany boats passing through them. Boats may be invited to lock through in groups.

PK 53.4    Lock 4, bridge
PK 55.2    Brebotte bridge, turning basin d/s, village 600m
PK 55.6    Lock 5
PK 57.7    Froidefontaine swing bridge, village l/b
PK 58.0    Lock 6, bridge
PK 58.5    Bridge (N1019)
PK 58.7    Quays l/b, bollards, no services
PK 59.1    Railway bridge
PK 59.3    Bourogne bridge, former coal unloading quays d/s l/b, village 800m r/b
PK 61.0    Lock 7
PK 61.2    Navigation enters river Allan (at confluence with Bourbeuse, crossed by towpath on r/b)
PK 62.1    Navigation re-enters canal, Allan weir l/b
PK 63.0    Lock 8 (Fontenelles), bridge, Allenjoie 500m r/b
PK 63.7    Disused lock 9 down to Allan, l/b
PK 63.9    Bridge (Allenjoie)AllenjoiePlan
PK 64.5    Towpath bridge (Moulin-de-Boise)
PK 65.3    Junction with embranchement de Belfort, for through route turn sharp right
PK 65.3    Fesches aqueduct over the river Allan
PK 65.4    New lock 9 (Allenjoie)
PK 65.6    Former canal to Fesches, l/b
PK 65.8    Lock 10 (Marivées), bridge
PK 66.9    Bridge (d61)
PK 67.6    Lock 11 (Étupes), bridge, village 700m l/b
PK 68.3    Lock 12 (Étupes new lock) leading into 3km section of high-capacity waterway (Allan diversion canal)
PK 69.1    Bridge (Exincourt), d437, motorway junction r/b
PK 69.7    Suspension bridge (Peugeot works)
PK 70.3    Motorway bridge (A36), skew
PK 71.3    Bridge (Ludwigsburg), Sochaux motorway spur, weir r/b
PK 71.7    Flood gate
PK 71.8    Railway bridge, industrial quay u/s l/b, end of large-scale waterway section
PK 72.3    Lock 14 (Montbéliard)
PK 72.6    New road bridge (replacing former lift bridge)
PK 72.8    Montbéliard basin, port de plaisance, quay 55m with 3 perpendicular pontoons, 30 berths, night €10, water €3, electricity €3, shower €2.50, slipway, VNF office, all services in town centre 800m r/b

Once a Roman stronghold, now the home of Peugeot vehicles. Port de Plaisance, all services, but possibly noisy.


PK 73.4    Lock 15 (Côteau Jouvent)
PK 74.5    Courcelles-lès-Montbéliard lift bridge
PK 75.0    Lock 16 (Courcelles-lès-Montbéliard)
PK 75.8    Canal narrows, one-way traffic
PK 75.9    Footbridge (Bart)
PK 76.8    Canal narrows, one-way traffic
PK 77.2    Lock 17 (Voujeaucourt), bridge, quay u/s l/b
PK 77.8    Canal crosses Doubs on the level, keep to towpath side during floods

Doubs crossing, beware of cross-current.

PK 78.0    Flood lock 18a (Voujeaucourt), bridge (Moulin)
PK 79.0    Bridge (Berche)
PK 79.7    Lock 18 (Dampierre), waiting bollards d/s r/b
PK 80.0    Bridge (Dampierre-sur-le-Doubs)
PK 81.5    Lock 19 (Plaine de Dampierre)
PK 83.1    Lock 20 (Raydans), bridge (D126)
PK 84.1    Colombier-Fontaine lift bridge, village l/b, commercial quay d/s l/b
PK 85.3    Lock 21 (Colombier-Fontaine)
PK 87.2    Lock 22 (Saint-Maurice), bridge
PK 88.7    Railway bridge
PK 89.6    Lock 23 (Colombier-Châtelot), bridge, basin u/s silted up
PK 91.2    Lock 24 (Blussans), bridge
PK 94.4    Canal narrows, one-way traffic
PK 94.6    Lock 25 (Côteau-Lunans)
PK 95.3    Railway bridge
PK 96.3    L’Isle-sur-le-Doubs lock 26 (lock-keeper also operates lock 27), bridge, mooring in basin u/s r/b, 8 berths, water, electricity, shower at camp site, pump- out, stone quay with rings, town centre l/b

Quayside moorings above the lock, close to a fuel service station.

PK 97.0    Bridge (D683)
PK 97.4    Lock 27 (Papeteries), water, navigation enters river Doubs
PK 98.6    Lock 28 and weir (Appenans)
PK 101.1    Lock 29 and weir (Goulisse)
PK 102.9    Entrance to Pompierre lock-cut, r/b, flood gate 30a (Rang), bridge
PK 103.4    Railway bridge
PK 105.0    Lock 30 (Plaine de Pompierre), bridge
PK 106.6    Lock 31 (Pompierre), bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 107.4    Motorway bridge (A36)
PK 108.0    Santoche island (keep to r/b)
PK 109.3    Entrance to Clerval lock-cut, r/b
PK 109.9    Lock 32 (Clerval)
PK 110.2    Navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 110.5    Clerval bridge, mooring u/s r/b, pontoons l/b 10 berths, water, electricity, showers, crane, suitable for small craft only, village l/b
PK 111.7    Entrance to Branne lock-cut, r/b, flood lock 33a, bridge
PK 113.9    Lock 33 (Chaux-lès-Clerval)
PK 115.3    Branne towpath bridge, small village r/b

Locks in this section of the river are located immediately next to barrages and thus can be tricky when heading downstream (west). For this reason, their ‘default’ readiness is to be prepared for downstream boats. Lock 35 (Hermite) at PK 117.5 has gaps in the walls where the old gates were; take care going upstream (rising against the walls).

PK 116.0    Lock 34 (Branne), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 117.5    Lock 35 and weir (Hermite)
PK 118.5    Lock 36 and weir (Hyèvre-Magny)
PK 118.8    Hyèvre-Magny bridge
PK 121.0    Lock 37 and weir (Grand-Crucifix)
PK 123.1    Lock 38 and weir (Raie-aux-Chèvres)
PK 125.1    Entrance to Grange-Ravey lock-cut, l/b, campsite r/b, small pontoons, services
PK 125.4    Lock 39 (Lonot), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 126.4    Confluence of Cusancin l/b, towpath bridge
PK 126.7    Entrance to Baume-les-Dames lock-cut, l/b, narrow section, one-way traffic
PK 127.4    Bridge (D50)
PK 127.5    Flood lock 40a (Baume-les-Dames), bridge
PK 127.8    Baume-les-Dames quay l/b, capacity 15 boats, night €9.90, water, electricity, shower €1.70, slipway, pump-out, Service Navigation, town centre 1200m r/b
PK 129.1    Bridge (Grange Villotey), canal narrows for 140m
PK 130.0    Lock 40 (Baumerousse), bridge, bollards r/b, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 133.5    Lock 41 and weir (Fourbanne), water
PK 135.7    Lock 42 and weir (Ougney), water, bridge
PK 136.1    Ougney bridge
PK 137.4    Ougney-la-Roche restaurant l/b, pontoon for shallow-draught vessels, water and electricity

Restaurant pontoon in a lovely stretch of the river

PK 138.1    Lock 43 and weir (Douvot), bridge, bollards u/s
PK 140.4    Lock 44 and weir (Laissey)
PK 140.6    Laissey bridge
PK 142.4    Lock 45 and weir (Aigremont)
PK 143.8    Entrance to Deluz lock-cut r/b, flood lock 46a
PK 144.5    Deluz bridge, paper mill

Moorings, charming little town. Dramatic section of the river past high cliffs.

PK 146.7    Double staircase lock 46/47 (Deluz), electric, bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 148.8    Bridge (Vaire)
PK 149.3    Former quay for La Rochette-Cenpa paper mill (Novillars) r/b
PK 151.9    Entrance to Roche lock-cut, r/b, flood gate 48a, bridge
PK 154.4    Lock 48 (Chalèze), bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs

Mooring Canal du Rhone au Rhin
Moorings at the new halte fluviale (some reports of rowdy youths being a nuisance on weekend evenings) near the east entrance to the tunnel

PK 157.4    Overhead power lines
PK 160.8    Lock 49 and weir (Malâte)
PK 162.3    Private industrial quays r/b
PK 162.6    Footbridge (Prés-de-Vaux)
PK 163.0    Entrance to tunnel (Souterrain de la Citadelle) l/b flood gate 50a (Rivotte), bridge, straight on for Besançon centre, halte fluviale l/b, night €15, then passing through lock 51bis (Saint-Paul), recreational traffic only (see plan and distance table for boucle de Besançon)

Traditionally a centre of clock-making, Victor Hugo was born here and there is a spectacular view from the hilltop ‘Citadelle’ down and over the Doubs valley. Take the very attractive 3km river loop through the historic town (however the available depth is 1.3m) – or take the short 400m long Tarragnoz tunnel that by-passes it (available depth 2.1m, height 4.3m).


PK 163.4    Lock 50 (Tarragnoz) in downstream tunnel entrance,  junction with boucle de Besançon
PK 163.5    Besançon bridge (Tarragnoz), moorings in Doubs u/s and d/s, night €15, water and electricity, access to town centre see plan
PK 163.6    Lock 51 (Tarragnoz),
navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 163.8    Bridge (Mazagran)
PK 165.1    Lock 52 and weir (Velotte)
PK 165.5    Bridge (Velotte)
PK 166.3    Floating chandlery l/b opposite island
PK 167.3    Bridge (Beure), N273 Besançon ring road
PK 168.7    Lock 53 and weir (Gouille)
PK 170.7    Entrance to Aveney lock-cut, l/b, flood lock 54a
PK 171.0    Avanne-Aveney bridge, village with restaurant
PK 173.0    Canal narrows for 400m, one-way traffic
PK 174.0    Double staircase lock 54/55 (Rancenay), electrically operated, bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 176.8    Entrance to Thoraise lock-cut, l/b, flood-lock 56a, bridge
PK 177.4    Thoraise tunnel, length 185m, winding basin at u/s entrance

Short tunnel with waterfall curtains at each end (operated by your remote control) and lighting display inside. Depth 2.8m, height 4.1m+. Good mooring between the tunnel entrance and the following ecluse.

PK 177.8    Lock 56 (Thoraise), bridge, mooring u/s r/b, water, electricity, shower, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 179.4    Bridge (Torpes-Boussières)
PK 180.1    Entrance to Osselle lock-cut, r/b
PK 180.5    Flood lock 57a (Torpes)
PK 182.2    Railway bridge
PK 182.3    Bridge (Portail de Roche)
PK 183.2    Lock 57 (Osselle), bridge, village 400m
PK 183.7    Bridge (Osselle)
PK 185.6    Bridge (Moulin d’Arenthon), canal narrows for 40m
PK 187.3    New lock 58 (Routelle)
PK 188.4    Bridge (Roset-Fluans)
PK 188.6    Old lock 58 (Roset-Fluans), bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 191.3    Lock 59 (Saint-Vit) and weir, bridge, water
PK 191.5    Saint-Vit pontoon mooring in mill stream l/b for 6 boats, shower, village 1500m
PK 191.8    Bridge (Salans-sur-le-Doubs)
PK 192.0    Island, keep to r/b
PK 194.0    Small towpath bridge, r/b
PK 194.2    Entrance to Dampierre lock-cut, r/b
PK 194.8    Flood gate 60a (Fraisans), bridge, village 1000m l/b
PK 195.9    Bridge (Dampierre)
PK 196.4    Lock 60 (Dampierre), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 197.5    Entrance to Ranchot lock-cut, r/b, narrow section to lock
PK 197.7    Flood gate 61a, bridge
PK 197.8    Ranchot bridge, timber quay (25m) r/b for 5 boats, night €7, water, electricity, village 100m r/b, Rans 500m l/b
PK 198.5    Lock 61 (Ranchot)
PK 199.3    Lift bridge (Moulin des Malades)
PK 199.5    Lock 62 (Moulin des Malades), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 201.9    Entrance to Orchamps lock-cut, r/b, bridge
PK 203.3    Orchamps bridge, moor well u/s for village r/b
PK 203.5    New flood lock 63 (Orchamps), bridge
PK 205.7    Bridge (Lavans)
PK 207.4    Lock 63 (Moulin-Rouge), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 208.5    Entrance to Audelange lock-cut, r/b, flood gate 64a, bridge
PK 209.5    Lock 64 (Audelange), navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 211.1    Rochefort-sur-Nenon, mooring under cliff r/b, pontoon moorings along bank, water, also at restaurant u/s r/b

Take care to keep to the channel on the river section east of the village.

PK 211.3    Entrance to Rochefort-Dole lock-cut, new flood lock 65, bridge
PK 215.0    Lock 65 (Baverans), bridge, village 600m r/b
PK 215.3    Railway bridge
PK 215.9    Bridge (Brevans)
PK 217.3    Railway bridge
PK 217.7    Lock 66 (Charles-Quint), bridge, quiet arm of the Doubs with steep banks d/s l/b, possible mooring
PK 217.9    Navigation enters small arm of Doubs
PK 218.1    Bridge (Pasquier), towpath crosses to l/b
PK 218.5    Dole footbridge, basin, boat harbour and Nicols hire base r/b, 60m pontoon, 35 berths, night €7.40, water, electricity, showers, slipway, larger vessels moor to quay l/b, no services, Service Navigation l/b, town centre r/b

Birthplace of Louis Pasteur. Well equipped moorings. Section shaded by plane trees, like the Canal du Midi.

PK 218.7    Bridge (Pont de la Charité)
PK 218.8    Lock 67 (Jardin-Philippe) in short lock-cut r/b, bridge, navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 220.1    Entrance to Doubs-Saône canal r/b, flood lock 68, bridge
PK 220.3    Main road viaduct (Corniche), D405
PK 221.3    Bridge (Saint-Ylie)
PK 222.8    Choisey bridge, village r/b
PK 224.4    Lock 69 (Bon Repos), bridge (D905), quay d/s r/b, no services
PK 224.9    Motorway bridge (A39)
PK 225.5    Railway bridge
PK 225.7    Bridge (Beauregard)
PK 226.6    Tavaux-Cité quay r/b (factory)
PK 226.7    Lock 70 (Belvoye), bridge former freight office
PK 227.2    Solvay works, basin l/b
PK 227.7    Conveyor bridge
PK 228.1    Private bridge
PK 228.4    Pipeline crossing
PK 228.8    Lock 71 (Ronce), bridge and pipeline crossing
PK 230.3    Lock 72 (Abergement-la-Ronce), bridge, shops l/b
PK 232.2    Bridge (Samerey)
PK 233.3    Motorway bridge (A36)
PK 235.4    Basin (silted up)
PK 236.1    Lock 73 (Tuilerie)
PK 236.2    Bridge (Laperrière)
PK 236.7    Lock 74 (Laperrière), basin u/s l/b, Bourgogne Marine boatyard and services, 45 berths, water, electricity, repairs, no overnight mooring, Saint-Symphorien village 800m

Bourgogne Marine is a long-established boat harbour offering repairs and maintenance.

PK 237.1    Lock 75 (Saône), VHF 18, bridge, basin u/s with permanent moorings, abandoned dry dock, junction with Saône (PK 160)

A modest entry/exit point for the canal route that connects the Rhine with the Saône and the Rhône. The recent white, angular control tower is very noticeable.

River Ill

PK 0.0    Illkirch-Graffenstaden weir, limit of navigation (for small craft only)
PK 0.7    Quay r/b
PK 0.8    Motorway bridge (A35)
PK 1.6    Château de l’Île spa l/b (no mooring)
PK 1.8    Ostwald former quay l/b
PK 4.4    Gelatine factory and quay r/b, entrance to Gerig lake l/b
PK 5.3    Elsau former quay r/b
PK 5.5    U/s tip of island, navigation in r/b arm
PK 5.9    D/s tip of island, bridge (tramway, line B)
PK 6.1    Railway bridge
PK 6.3    Confluence of river Bruche, l/b
PK 6.4    Junction with Canal de la Bruche, l/b (disused)


PK 6.5    Footbridge (Illhof)
PK 7.4    Bridge (Montagne Verte, tramway lines B & C)
PK 7.8    Road bridge (motorway access ramp)
PK 7.9    Motorway bridges (A35)
PK 8.2    Railway bridge (l’Heyritz)
PK 8.3    Canal du Rhône au Rhin enters Ill, r/b
PK 8.4    Canal du Rhône au Rhin leaves Ill, r/b
PK 8.5    Bridge (Pont Louis Pasteur)
PK 8.8    Bridge (Pont des Frères-Matthis)
PK 9.0    Barrage Vauban (part of former fortifications), 13 arches, navigation through l/b arch
PK 9.1    Junction with Canal des Faux Remparts, l/b, Quartier des Moulins, take l/b channel, bridge  (Ponts Couverts)
PK 9.3    Swing bridge (Faisan)
PK 9.4    Lock A (drop 1.90m)
PK 9.5    Bridge (Pont Saint-Martin)
PK 9.7    Bridge (Pont Saint-Thomas)
PK 10.0    Bridge (Pont Saint-Nicolas), tramway lines A & D
PK 10.2    Bridge (Pont du Corbeau)
PK 10.4    Bridge (Pont Sainte-Madeleine)
PK 10.5    Footbridge (Passerelle de l’Abreuvoir)
PK 10.7    Bridge (Pont Saint-Guillaume)
PK 10.8    Junction with Canal des Faux Remparts, l/b
PK 11.0    Bridge (Pont Royal), tramway lines C & E
PK 11.1    Bridge (Pont d’Auvergne), river Aar (not navigable) l/b
PK 11.3    Bridge (Pont de la Forêt Noire)
PK 11.8    Bridge (Pont de la Dordogne)
PK 12.1    Footbridge (Passerelle de l’Orangerie)
PK 12.6    Private footbridge (European Parliament)
PK 12.8    Junction with Canal de la Marne au Rhin, in front of European Parliament building

Turn left for the Vosges and Nancy, right for the Port of Strasbourg and the Rhine, on the other (north) side of the canal are La Robertsau weir and lock C (works craft only).

Canal des Faux Remparts
(for reference, available only to official trip boats)
PK 0.0    Junction with river Ill (below the Barrage Vauban)
PK 0.1    Lock B (drop 1.90m), bridge (de l’Abattoir)
PK 0.25    Bridge (National), tramway lines B & C
PK 0.35    Bridge (Kuss)
PK 0.5    Bridge (de Saverne), tramway line F
PK 0.7    Bridge (du Marché)
PK 0.8    Bridge (de Paris), tramway lines A & D
PK 1.0    Bridge (du Faubourg de Pierre)
PK 1.2    Bridge (de la Fonderie)
PK 1.5    Bridge (du Théâtre), tramway lines B & C
PK 1.6    Footbridge (passerelle des Juifs)
PK 1.7    Bridge (de la Poste)
PK 1.8    Bridge (passerelle des Faux Remparts)
PK 1.9    Bridge (St Étienne)
PK 2.0    Junction with river Ill

Boucle de Besançon
PK 0.0    Upstream junction with through route at PK 163.0 (entrance to Citadelle tunnel l/b)
PK 0.3    Skew bridge
PK 0.5    Railway bridge
PK 0.8    Bridge (Brégille), restaurant with quay d/s r/b
PK 1.0    Entrance to lock-cut, l/b
PK 1.1    Lock 50bis (Saint-Paul) adjacent to hydropower plant, bridges, pontoon d/s l/b for 24 boats, night €6, water, electricity, shower, pump-out
PK 1.2    Bridge (République), quay d/s r/b, water
PK 1.5    Bridge (Denfert-Rochereau)
PK 1.6    Navigation re-enters Doubs
PK 2.0    Bridge (Battant)
PK 2.6    Bridge (Canot)
PK 3.0    Bridge (Charles De Gaulle)
PK 3.6    Weir on r/b, keep towards l/b
PK 4.0    Downstream junction with through route (above lock 51)

Belfort branch
PK 0.0    Junction with main canal (PK 65.3)
PK 0.9    Bridge (Jonchets)
PK 1.8    Brognard bridge, small village 300m l/b, motorway r/b
PK 2.9    Lock 1 (Brognard)
PK 3.6    Dambenois bridge, small village 200m l/b
PK 4.1    Lock 2 (Dambenois), bridge
PK 5.2    Bridge (D25)
PK 6.1    Lock 3, bridge, basin d/s r/b, moorings for 3 boats, night €5, water, electricity, shower, crane on request, slipway, Trévenans 400m l/b
PK 6.9    Lock 4, bridge
PK 7.1    Railway viaduct (Savoureuse, TGV Rhin-Rhône)
PK 7.7    Lock 5, bridge, aqueduct u/s
PK 7.9    Bridge (Bermont)
PK 8.3    Bridge (N1019)
PK 8.5    Bridge (Dorans)
PK 9.7    Botans lift bridge, basin d/s l/b, quay (200m), water, electricity, small village r/b, Belfort 4000m l/b
PK 9.9    Motorway bridge (A36), head of navigation (3.6km length beyond bridge, comprising three locks, abandoned)

self-drive canal boat rental france


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

self-drive canal boat rentals map
Base locations map – Burgundy-Franche Comté