Information about the 35km long Canal de la Deûle (Bauvin-Lys)

Canal de la Deule location map France

The Canal de la Deûle is in effect a branch of the high-capacity Liaison Dunkerque-Escaut. It is 35 km long from the triangular junction with the main through route at Bauvin (PK 54) to the river Lys. It passes through the regional capital city Lille, potentially by two different routes : the old 19th century line and the grand gabarit by-pass. Restoration of the old line is a project the author has been advising on for many years, but progress is slow because of the substantial investments required. The expansive basin at Lomme, at the start of the old line, is soon to become Lille’s badly-needed port de plaisance. Downstream of Lille, at Marquette (PK 23), is the junction with the Canal de Roubaix, reopened to navigation in 2011 after nearly 15 years of restoration works. The canal is thus in the middle of several attractive cruising loops.

The canal’s official name, the Antenne de Bauvin à la Lys, is almost consigned to history, as VNF itself now prefers to use the only name that is recognised by the population of Lille and the region (for whom it is simply ‘La Deûle’). The canal is the highly engineered course of what used to be a small winding river.Canal de la Deule region map

History – The Canal de la Deûle, designed by Vauban to link the Scarpe to the Deûle, was opened in 1693. The canal was rebuilt in the 19th century and extended down through Lille, where barges previously had to transship from the ‘Haute’ Deûle to the ‘Basse’ Deûle. It was incorporated in the Liaison Dunkerque-Escaut, so the canal described here is only part of the original course. There are plans to restore navigability of the old arms of the canal through Lille.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 12.0m
  • Max Height: 2.50m
  • Max Draught: 3.0m


The canal is seeing increasing commercial traffic, particularly to and from the port of Lille with its imposing container terminal just south of the city. Due care should be taken also because of the intense water sports activities, based just inside the Canteleu arm of the old canal. Substantial works will be encountered downstream from Lille in future years, as the waterway is widened and deepened to the European Class Vb dimensions (185 by 12m).

Locks – There are three locks on the canal, with the same navigable dimensions as on the through route, 144.60 by 12.00m, built in the period 1965-1980 : Don, Lille (écluse du Grand Carré) and Quesnoy, allowing elimination of Wambrechies lock, while Comines lock and weir on the high-capacity river Lys made the old lock at Deûlémont redundant. The former locks here and at Wambrechies have been redeveloped as boat harbours. The lock (38.50 by 5.25m) on the old canal through Lille (écluse de la Barre) is operational but rarely used because the canal downstream is a dead end. The old lock at Don is on a by-passed length of the former canal, but could be restored to navigation, as part of the works to upgrade the canal to handle much more commercial traffic.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 3.00m down to the port of Lille (PK 18). From here to the Lys the maximum draught is 2.50m, to be increased to 3.00m on completion of upgrading works. On the old canal through Lille the maximum authorised draught is 1.80m. The Seclin branch is regrettably no longer accessible (draught 0.80m).

Headroom – Bridges leave a minimum headroom of 5.25m above the highest navigable water level. The old line of the canal through Lille regrettably has a low fixed bridge  in place of a lift bridge, limiting the headroom to less than 1.50m.

Towpath – There is a good service road throughout most of the length of the canal, interrupted by a fenced port area where local roads will need to be taken, downstream of Wambrechies.

Authority – VNF – Direction territoriale Nord – Pas de Calais
–    113 avenue Max Dormoy, BP 56, 59004 Lille

Click to enlarge

Canal de la Deule waterway strip

Route description

Canal de la Deûle
PK 23.6    Junction with river Scarpe, navigation continues in  Canal de la Deûle
PK 23.3    Corbehem bridge
PK 22.5    Férin basin
PK 21.2    Férin bridge, quay d/s r/b, village 500m r/b
PK 20.2    Lock (Gœulzin), VHF 22, two chambers, water
PK 18.6    Bridge (Moulinet), quay u/s r/b, Gœulzin village 1200m r/b
PK 17.8    Industrial quay r/b (cement works)
PK 16.3    Public quay r/b
PK 15.5    Arleux bridge, boat moorings u/s l/b, village 1200m l/b
PK 15.1    Junction with Canal du Nord, l/b
PK 12.3    Bridge (Abbaye du Verger), Oisy-le-Verger 2000m l/b
PK 11.1    Railway bridge (Aubigny, SNCF Cambrai-Douai)
PK 11.0    Main road bridge (Aubigny, D643), Aubencheul-au-Bac village 200m l/b
PK 10.8    Aubigny-au-Bac basin, quay r/b, village 500m r/b
PK 10.1   Junction with future Canal Seine-Nord Europe, l/b, at Aubencheul-au-Bac, works to start 2011
PK 7.9    Fressies bridge, quay d/s r/b, village l/b, Féchain 1500m r/bBauvin junction plan deule
PK 6.2    Hem-Lenglet bridge, quay u/s r/b, village 500m l/b
PK 5.8    Hem-Lenglet village and church l/b, footbridge
PK 3.5    Wasnes-au-Bac bridge (Pont Rade), village 1200m r/b
PK 3.0    Junction with former line of Canal de la Sensée, l/b
PK 2.0    Bridge (Marlettes)
PK 1.7    Culvert (Pré Piton) for river Sensée
PK 0.5     Actual junction with river Escaut  (see plan)
PK 0.0    Junction with canalised river Escaut at upstream entrance to Pont Malin lock

Antenne de Bauvin à la Lys (or Canal de la Deûle)
PK 0.0    Junction with main line of liaison Dunkerque-Escaut (PK 54), triangular junction, see plan
PK 0.1    Bauvin bridge, quay d/s r/b, village 1000m r/b
PK 0.6    Junction with main line towards Dunkerque, l/b
PK 1.0    Basin (former gare d’eau) r/b, u/s entrance
PK 1.7    Basin r/b, d/s entrance
PK 2.6    Pipeline bridge
PK 2.7    Railway bridge
PK 3.0    Former canal through Don branches off, l/b
PK 3.5    Lock (Don), VHF 22
PK 3.8    Bridge (Don)
PK 4.7    Former canal rejoins main line l/b, Don moorings, slipway, water, 800m up this branch r/b, but reported to be in poor condition
PK 5.5    Pipeline crossing
PK 6.2    Ansereuilles bridge
PK 8.0    Wavrin bridge, village 2000m l/b
PK 8.4    Junction with embranchement de Seclin, r/b

This branch is very narrow, has not been dredged, and is barely navigable. Keeping this branch open for navigation is practically a lost cause.

PK 9.5    Bridge (Houplin)
PK 11.6    Road bridge (Santes)
PK 11.7    Old line of canal branches off r/b (dead end)
PK 11.9    Footbridge (Santes)
PK 12.2    Railway bridge, basin u/s

Canal de la Deule Don lock
The 49m long barge Ushuaïa leaves Don lock on the Canal de la Deûle heading for Lille  © Lille Métropole/Max Lerouge

PK 12.4    Old line of canal branches off r/b (site of)
PK 12.6    Bridge (avenue du Comte d’Hespel)
PK 12.8    Footbridge
PK 13.0    Haubourdin bridge, town centre r/b
PK 13.4    Old line of canal branches off, r/b (dead end)
PK 13.7    Motorway bridge (A25)
PK 13.7    Railway bridge
PK 14.3    Bridge
PK 14.8    Sequedin power station, quay l/b
PK 15.3    Footbridge, numerous industrial quays d/s
PK 16.0    Bridge (D48, Avenue Kuhlmann), navigation enters Port of Lille
PK 16.2    Port basin r/b (Darse No 1)
PK 16.4    Link with old line of Canal de la Deûle (Canteleu branch), l/b

Access is currently blocked by a chain, pending development of the basin as a long-awaited fully-equipped boat harbour for Lille.

PK 16.7    Former basin r/b (Darse No 2, infilled)
PK 17.0    Basin r/b (Darse No 3), container terminal
PK 17.6    Bridge (Pont de Dunkerque)
PK 18.3    Bridge (Avenue Léon-Jouhaux)
PK 18.5    Lille, junction with old line, l/b, access to city centre via r/b arm, 800m, mooring u/s of the lock (Écluse de la Barre)
PK 18.6    Footbridge (Colisée)
PK 19.3    Footbridge (République)
PK 19.7    Lock (Grand Carré), VHF 18
PK 20.0    Road bridge (Pont Royal)
PK 20.4    Railway viaduct (TGV Nord/Eurostar)
PK 20.8    Bridge (Sainte-Hélène)
PK 21.6    Pipeline crossing and rail bridge (La Madeleine)
PK 22.2    Bridge (L’Abbaye), industrial quays d/s
PK 22.3    Pipeline crossing
PK 22.4    Pipeline crossing
PK 23.1    Junction with Canal de Roubaix, r/bMarquette junction plan
PK 23.3    Marquette-lez-Lille bridge, quay d/s r/b, town r/b (Lille suburb)
PK 24.0    Bridge (D652 Lille northern bypass)
PK 24.9    Wambrechies bridge, quay for 5 boats u/s r/b, night €14, water, electricity, shower, slipway, restaurant, town l/b
PK 25.0    Private quay (distillery) l/b
PK 27.7    Turning basin
PK 28.4    New lock (Quesnoy), VHF 22
PK 29.9    Quesnoy-sur-Deûle bridge, quay d/s l/b, capacity 14 boats, night €10.60, water, electricity, slipway, restaurant small town r/b
PK 30.4    Railway bridge
PK 33.8    Former lock (Deûlémont) l/b, bypassed by new channel
PK 33.9    Deûlémont footbridge, quay l/b, boat harbour, 4 berths, water €6, electricity, shower, slipway village 1500m r/b
PK 34.6    Bridge (D945)
PK 34.8    Junction with canalised river Lys


Lille is still not quite the welcoming place for boaters that it should be, but major changes are planned, following the successful restoration of the Canal de Roubaix. The City and Metropolitan Councils (Métropole Européenne de Lille, MEL) have drawn up ambitious plans for restoration of the two old arms of the original Canal de la Deûle, as well as the former basin in the city centre (Bassin de Wault) and the arm of the Vieille Deûle leading to the Roubaix pumping station. It was planned to rewater the latter arm through to the centre of Vieux Lille at the Avenue du Peuple Belge  1, but the idea, the brainchild of Mayoress Martine Aubry, has been shelved. The focus now is on developing a substantial boat harbour in the Bois Blancs basin ( 2, see image below). Plans are currently being amended to be more inclusive of the activities historically developed in the basin by local associations, particularly Transport Culturel Fluvial.Canal de la Deule Lille Map

The author has persistently recommended restoration of the old line throughout Lille, to attract more water-borne tourists to the city. These involve building a movable bridge in the middle of the Canteleu arm 3, and adding a three-way circular lock at the end of the Moyenne Deûle, thereby completing the bypass of the modern cut and the Grand Carré lock, where a second 185m long chamber will eventually have to be built. Separation of commercial and plaisance traffics is going to become an important policy in the future, as it is already in the Netherlands and Germany  4. Plaisanciers may take advantage of informal moorings along the Quai Léon Jouhaux upstream of the écluse de la Barre.