This section covers the country’s major waterway artery, the river Seine throughout its lower course to Paris, along with the waterways connecting eastwards from the capital towards the Champagne region.

First, there are choices to be made, especially by yachts needing to lower their mast (see entry-ports). Rouen is undoubtedly the most convenient place to prepare for the inland voyage. Le Havre as entry port is described in the pages on the Tancarville canal, while Honfleur is given as the (possible) port of entry to the Lower Seine (Seine aval). The plaisancier entering the French system from the Seine estuary heads eastwards to Paris, one of Europe’s finest waterway destinations. At Conflans-Saint-Honorine, barge capital of France, the Seine is joined by the river Oise, the first part of the route north-east to the Escaut and the Rhine basin. The Oise leads to the river Aisne and four canals that provide important connections for both north-south and east-west itineraries. As connections, in mostly featureless landscapes, these have never received the attention they merit.

Three fascinating canals are managed by the city of Paris. The popular Port d’Arsenal is just behind the entrance lock to the Canal Saint-Martin. Most boats never venture beyond this excellent facility, which is a pity, for all three of these canals are well worth discovering.

Rivers and Canals of Normandy, Paris, Oise and Aisne


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

Seine-Paris-Ile de France

waterway navigation guide download

Complete Seine basin waterways – Ports, Seine, Paris, Oise and Aisne 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.