Information about the 66km long canalised river Scarpe

Scarpe location map France

The canalised river Scarpe begins at the canal basin in Arras (linked to the river by a short length of canal) and ends at the confluence with the Escaut at Mortagne. For navigation purposes it is divided into three sections:
–    Scarpe supérieure, Arras to Corbehem (23km)
–    Scarpe moyenne, Corbehem to the lock at Fort-de-Scarpe (7km)
–    Scarpe inférieure, Fort-de-Scarpe to Mortagne (36km)

However, most of the second section through the town of Douai, was closed following construction of a bypass canal (the dérivation de la Scarpe autour de Douai) as part of the high-capacity Dunkerque-Escaut waterway. This cut branches off from the left bank of the Scarpe opposite the junction with the Canal de la Sensée, passes to the west of the town and joins the Canal de la Deûle on the northern outskirts. Continuity of navigation on the Scarpe is ensured by a short (800m) link canal (Canal de Jonction), leaving the bypass at km 6.2 and joining the Scarpe moyenne downstream of the Pont Vauban in Douai. The distances in the table below are those of the original line of navigation, making a total of 66km from Arras to Mortagne. The line effectively used by navigation, bypassing Douai, is 1km longer (see plan). The lower Scarpe has been closed since 2005 following a serious failure at Lallaing lift bridge, but should reopen by 2012.Scarpe region map

History – This river was navigated from the Escaut up to Douai as early as 638, but improvements with flash locks were required to give access to the important town of Arras, reached in 1613. This remained a shallow navigation, with locks of varying width and length, until it was improved to the Becquey gauge in the 1840s. The enlargement to Freycinet dimensions was completed by about 1890. Today the waterway is closed pending reconstruction of the lift bridge at Lallaing, dredging and identification of a new owner and operator.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 5.20m
  • Max Height: 3.50m
  • Max Draught: 1.10m

Local Waterway Links


Locks – There are 9 locks on the Scarpe supérieure, of standard barge dimensions (38.50 by 5.20m), all of which have been equipped for automatic operation. The locks on the Scarpe moyenne have been taken out of use, while those on the bypass canal are of high capacity. At Courchelettes and Douai there are two chambers 144.60 by 12.00m and 91.60 by 12.00m. There is no lock on the link canal. The six locks on the Scarpe inférieure are also of standard barge dimensions (38.70 by 5.20m). Only the lowest two locks are currently operated by local authority staff, giving access from the Escaut to Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, pending repairs to the Lallaing lift bridge.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 3.00m on the bypass canal. On the Freycinet-gauge sections the official draught is 1.80m, but this is unlikely to be maintained in the future on the sections no longer used by commercial traffic. Dredging works required in the terminal section towards Arras and throughout the lower Scarpe are expected to provide a draught limited to 1.60 m. Access to Arras is currently limited to boats drawing no more than 1.10 m.

Scarpe St-Laurent canoes
Boats, canoes and a riverside housing development compose an attractive landscape at Saint-Laurent-Blangy, in the suburbs of Arras. © VNF/Yveline Druelle

Headroom – Below the Pont des Grès in Arras, with a headroom of 3.50m, all fixed bridges offer a clear headroom of 3.95m above normal water level, reduced to 3.75m during flood flows on the Scarpe supérieure and 3.65m on the Scarpe inférieure. The least headroom on the bypass canal is 5.25m.

Towpath – There is a towpath throughout.

Authority – VNF – Direction territoriale Nord – Pas de Calais
–    16, route de Tournai, BP 26, 59119 Waziers (PK 0-51)
–    22 chemin du halage, BP 2025, 59321 Valenciennes Cedex (PK 51-66)

Click to enlarge

Scarpe waterway strip

Route description

Scarpe supérieure
PK 0.0 Arras basin, public quays, town centre 300m
PK 0.2 Bridge (Pont des Grès), boat moorings u/s r/b
PK 0.6 Lock 1 (Saint-Nicolas), automatic, navigation enters Scarpe
PK 0.9 Main road bridge (D917), public quay u/s l/b
PK 1.3 Basin r/b, new port of Arras
PK 2.3 Lock 2 (Saint-Laurent-Blangy) in short cut l/b, bridge
PK 2.5 Saint-Laurent-Blangy pontoon for 4 boats r/b, night €6.50, water, electricity, shower, pump-out, town l/b
PK 3.9 Railway viaduct
PK 4.0 Chemicals factory r/b, quay
PK 5.0 Lock 3 (Athies), automatic, in short cut l/b, bridge, Athies 300m l/b
PK 7.3 Lock 4 (Fampoux), automatic, in short cut r/b, bridgeArras junction plan
PK 7.9 Fampoux quay l/b, village 800m l/b
PK 8.1 Railway viaduct
PK 8.6 Railway viaduct (TGV Nord)
PK 8.7 Motorway viaduct (A1)
PK 10.1 Rœux bridge, quay d/s l/b, village 300m l/b
PK 11.1 Pelves quay r/b, village 400m
PK 11.6 Plouvain basin, boat moorings l/b, village 1700m
PK 12.3 Motorway viaduct (A26)
PK 14.1 Biache-Saint-Vaast pontoon l/b for 2 boats, night €8, water, electricity, small town 400m l/b
PK 14.2 Lock 5 (Biache-Saint-Vaast), automatic, in cut r/b, bridge
PK 14.3 Basin l/b (former cement works)
PK 17.3 Vitry-en-Artois bridge, quay u/s l/b, town l/b
PK 17.7 Bridge (Vitry-en-Artois)
PK 18.0 Lock 6 (Vitry), automatic, r/b, weir
PK 20.1 Lock 7 (Brébières-Haute-Tenue), automatic, in short cut l/b
PK 20.6 Lock 8 (Brébières-Basse-Tenue), automatic, bridge
PK 21.0 Brébières quay l/b, village 400m
PK 21.3 Bridge
PK 22.0 Overhead pipeline and conveyor belt crossings (five crossings)
PK 22.1 Private basins
PK 22.4 Lock 9 (Corbehem), automatic
PK 22.6 Corbehem bridge, village l/b
PK 23.1 Junction with Scarpe diversion canal and Canal de la Sensée (liaison Dunkerque-Escaut) at km 23.6, Courchelettes boat moorings 700m down bypassed section of Scarpe (see plan)

Scarpe diversion canal (Douai bypass)

PK 23.6    Junction with Scarpe supérieure and Scarpe moyenne  (navigable 700m to disused lock)Douai junction plan Scarpe
PK 23.8    Lock (Courchelettes), VHF 18, two chambers, bridge, water
pk 24.2    Railway bridges
pk 24.7    Turning Basin
pk 25.2    Road bridge (D621, Douai bypass, Rocade minière)
pk 25.6    Bridges (Arras road, D950)
pk 26.9    Quay r/b
pk 27.7    Esquerchin bridge, Douai centre 500m r/b
pk 28.0    Lock (Douai), VHF 18, two chambers, water
pk 28.4    Footbridge (Ocre)
pk 28.5    Bridge (Ocre)
pk 29.7    Quay l/b
pk 29.8    Junction with Canal de Jonction (link with the Scarpe moyenne d/s of Douai) and junction with liaison Dunkerque-Escaut at PK 29.8

Canal de Jonction
PK 0.0     Junction with the Scarpe diversion canal (PK 6.2)
PK 0.1    Bridge (Boulevard Lahure)
PK 0.4    Basin
PK 0.7    Bridge (Chemin Vert)
PK 0.8    Junction with Scarpe moyenne

Corbehem junction Plan Liaison Dunkerque-Escaut

Scarpe moyenne
PK 29.0    Junction with Canal de Jonction (Scarpe moyenne navigable 1100m u/s to former lift bridge in Douai)
PK 29.1    Railway bridge
PK 29.2    Railway bridge
PK 29.3    Basin r/b
PK 29.5    Basin r/b
PK 29.9    Basin l/b (former junction with Canal de la Deûle, disused)

Scarpe inférieure
PK 30.0    Lock 1 (Fort-de-Scarpe)
PK 30.4    Bridge (Pont Rouge)
PK 31.1    Motorway bridge (A21, Douai north bypass)
PK 33.3    Raches lift bridge, automatic, village l/b
PK 36.4    Lallaing lift bridge, automatic, small town 400m l/b
PK 36.8    Lock 2 (Lallaing), automatic
PK 37.6    Quay l/b
PK 37.9    Lift bridge (Germignies)
PK 40.3    Pumping station r/b
PK 41.1    Pipeline crossing
PK 41.5    Vred swing bridge, boat moorings d/s l/b for 5 boats, water, electricity, slipway, village l/b
PK 45.3    Lock 3 (Marchiennes), water
PK 45.5    Marchiennes bridge, public quay d/s r/b, attractive boat mooring d/s l/b, small town with all facilities l/b
PK 46.9    Disused railway bridge
PK 47.2    Overhead gas pipeline crossing
PK 47.8    Pipeline crossing
PK 49.7    Lock 4 (Warlaing), lift bridge, village 500m l/b
PK 54.2    Hasnon bridge, village r/b
PK 54.5    Motorway bridge (A23)
PK 57.6    Railway bridge (Saint-Amand)

Scarpe St Amand mooring
The newly-opened boat harbour at Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near the town’s popular casino. © CRT Nord-Pas de Calais

PK 58.2    Saint-Amand-les-Eaux lift bridge (rue de Valenciennes), footbridge u/s, quay u/s l/b
PK 58.6    Saint-Amand-les-Eaux boat harbour (port de plaisance) in basin l/b, night €12, water €1, electricity €1.50, shower, slipway, pump-out, town centre 500m l/b
PK 58.6    Alternative boat moorings for Saint-Amand, l/b
PK 59.1    Lift bridge (route de Condé), footbridge d/s
PK 59.3    Lock 5 (Saint-Amand)
PK 59.9    Road bridge (D169, Saint-Amand bypass)
PK 62.3    Nivelle bridge, village 800m l/b
PK 63.7    Lock 6 (Thun)
PK 65.8    Mortagne lift bridge
PK 66.1    Confluence with Escaut