Information about the 58km long Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne


The Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne joins the Canal latéral à l’Aisne at Berry-au-Bac to the Canal latéral à la Marne at Condé-sur-Marne, a distance of 58km. The canal rises 40m through the cathedral city of Reims to a summit level at an altitude of 95.70m, including a tunnel 2302m long at Mont-de-Billy, and then drops down 23.80m towards the Marne. The maximum authorised dimensions for vessels passing through the tunnel are: draught 2.20m, beam 5.00m and air draught 3.70m. The towage service which used to operate in the tunnel was abandoned in the 1970s when the tunnel’s ventilation system was installed.

History – Hugues Cosnier, who designed the Canal de Briare, built the first canal between Reims and Sillery in the early 17th century. This was part of a grand plan to build canals by-passing Paris to the east. Work on this link followed those on the Aisne lateral, starting in 1841. The canal was opened in 1866. It was later planned to emulate Cosnier’s idea of an orbital route from the Loire through to northern France. Only the north-south route was finally built, comprising this link and the Canal de l’Oise à l’Aisne. The route is still used by about 10 péniches per day, with grain as the principal traffic, while recreational traffic is mainly private boats in transit.

Key Waterway Dimensions

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


Navigation The canal is well-maintained and used by Freycinet barges loading and unloading in the port of Reims. The landscape is not outstanding, but Reims itself is a notable event, while Sillery is an attractive mooring place, followed by the impressive Mont-de-Billy tunnel shortly before Condé-sur-Marne. Boats proceed through the tunnel respecting the lights controlling the one-way traffic. There may be a delay of up to one hour (or even longer until March 2017, since the canal is part of the route bypassing the stoppage on the river Aisne). The boat moorings in Reims are convenient but noisy.

Locks – There are 24 locks, 16 rising from the Aisne to the Mont-de-Billy summit, and 8 falling towards the Marne. All have effective dimensions of 38.50 by 5.20m, and are equipped for automatic operation. Control centres are at locks 1, 6, 10, at the Marne end of the tunnel and lock 24. At the approach to each series from the opposite end, a suspended pole is to be manoeuvred (see Introduction). There remains one radar detector downstream of lock 10, and locks 13 to 16 are operated independently.

Draught The maximum authorised draught is 1.80m.

Headroom The maximum authorised air draught is 3.50m.

Towpath There is a good towpath throughout, except in the tunnel, where the rails of the old electric ‘mules’ are still in place, and access is forbidden to the public.

Authority – VNF – Direction territoriale Bassin de la SeineUTI Seine-Nord
–    Chemin du Barrage, BP 30256,  51011 Châlons-en-Champagne

Click to enlarge

Route description

PK 0.0     Junction with Canal latéral à l’Aisne (Berry-au-Bac basin, PK 18.3), caution, basin often windy
PK 0.1     Lock 1 (Berry-au-Bac), start of regulated flight, bridge, quay u/s l/b
PK 1.2     Lock 2 (Moulin de Sapigneul)
PK 2.3     Lock 3 (Sapigneul), Côte 108 monument l/b
PK 3.8     Bridge (Neuville), quay u/s l/b, water, turning basin, Cormicy 2000m l/b
PK 4.7     Lock 4 (Alger)
PK 5.4     Le Gaudart, sugar beet loading quay l/b
PK 5.9     Lock 5 (Gaudart)
PK 6.8     Motorway bridge (A26)
PK 9.4     Lock 6 (Loivre), bridge, water, end of first regulated flight, moorings d/s l/b, village l/b
PK 10.1     Lock 7 (Fontaine), bridge, start of second regulated flight
PK 11.2     Lock 8 (Noue-Gouzaine)
PK 12.0     Lock 9 (Courcy), bridge, end of regulated flight
PK 12.5     Courcy bridge (Brimont), quay u/s l/b, water, moorings in turning basin, village 800m l/bBerryauBacBasinPlan
PK 14.5     Bridge (Bétheny)
PK 15.5     Quay l/b
PK 17.5     La Neuvillette bridge (D944), basin and quay d/s l/b, no services, centre r/b (suburb of Reims)
PK 18.6     Bridge (Reims ring road), shopping centre r/b
PK 18.8     Bridge (Saint-Thierry), commercial quay u/s r/b, canal silted l/b
PK 20.3     Bridge (Courcelles)
PK 20.4     Entrance to Reims basin (Port Colbert) r/b, 700m
PK 21.0     Bridge (Saint-Brice), quay d/s r/b, quays u/s
PK 21.7     Footbridge (Saint-Charles)
PK 22.3     Skew railway bridge
PK 22.5     Railway bridge and footbridge (Bienfait)
PK 22.6     Bridge (Maréchaux)
PK 22.7     Congress hall r/b
PK 22.9     Bridge (Pont de Vesle) over narrow section, tramway lines 1A & 1B
PK 23.3     Bridge (Pont de Gaulle)ReimsPlan
PK 23.4     Reims basin (Vieux Port), port de plaisance u/s r/b, pontoons and quays for vessels up to 38m, 12 berths, night €15-20, water, electricity, restaurant on barge, slipway, city centre 500m r/b

Reims cathedral is spectacular and the city contains all necessary facilities, but the PdP can be very noisy.

PK 23.9     Bridge (Venise), good mooring to grassy bank u/s r/b, l/b heavily silted
PK 24.4     Lock 10 (Fléchambault), bridge, start of regulated flight, water, private quays u/s r/b
PK 25.2     Lock 11 (Château d’Eau), road bridge, private quays u/s r/b
PK 25.3     Bridge (Rouillat)
PK 25.8     Lock 12 (Huon), bridge, start of regulated flight, private quays u/s, emergency use only
PK 27.2     Bridge (Reims ring road)
PK 27.5     Bridge (Vrilly), industrial quays u/s r/b
PK 29.3     Saint-Léonard bridge, quay l/b, restaurant
PK 32.0     Bridge (Couraux)
PK 33.4     Lock 13 (Sillery), Vesle aqueduct u/s, quay d/s r/b
PK 33.6     Sillery bridge, port de plaisance in basin u/s, 20 berths, night €6, water, electricity, showers €2, slipway €10, village 400m l/b

Good location, and possible alternative to Reims. Managed by Reims Métropole.

PK 34.0     Bridge (Sillery)
PK 34.6     Bridge (Moulin de Sillery)
PK 34.8     Footbridge, pipeline crossing (sugar mill), quay u/s l/b
PK 35.4     Skew road bridge (D944, Sillery bypass)
PK 35.6     Lock 14 (Espérance), bridge
PK 36.5     Bridge (Prunay)
PK 38.4     Lock 15 (Beaumont-sur-Vesle), bridge, turning basin and quay u/s l/b, village 200m l/b
PK 39.5     Lock 16 (Wez), bridge, beginning of summit level
PK 40.6     Courmelois bridge, basin u/s, village 300m r/b
PK 43.3     Sept-Saulx bridge, basin d/s, no services, village 300m r/b
PK 44.4     Bridge (Issus)
PK 46.5     Northern entrance to Mont de Billy tunnel
PK 48.8     Southern entrance to Mont de Billy tunnel
PK 50.3     Bridge (Vaudemanges)
PK 50.9     Vaudemanges basin, quay l/b, slipway, village 800m r/b (over bridge)
PK 51.4     Lock 17 (Vaudemanges), bridge, end of summit level, start of regulated flight
PK 52.0     Lock 18 (Champ Bon-Garçon)Conde-s-MarnePlan
PK 52.5     Lock 19 (Longues-Raies)
PK 53.2     Lock 20 (Saint-Martin), bridge
PK 53.9     Lock 21 (Fosse-Rodé)
PK 54.1     Bridge
PK 54.6     Lock 22 (Isse)
PK 54.8     Isse bridge, small village 100m r/b
PK 55.9     Lock 23 (Coupé)
PK 57.7     Lock 24 (Condé-sur-Marne), bridge, water, end of flight
PK 57.9     Condé-sur-Marne basin, quay and village r/b, night €5, water, electricity, mooring for 15 boats in Canal latéral à la Marne r/b
PK 58.1     Junction with Canal latéral à la Marne (PK 48)