This region extends from the traditional barge town of Saint-Jean-de-Losne to Provence and the Mediterranean. This ‘water artery’ for plaisanciers is a high-capacity waterway plied by a sizeable fleet of motor barges, push-tows and more than 20 river cruise ships. There are backwaters to explore from Seurre and Verdun-sur-le-Doubs, before the junction with the Canal du Centre at Chalon. From here commercial traffic and cruise ships will be regularly encountered, and there is the strong sense of no longer being in deep rural France, but in a prosperous and dynamic transport corridor. That means towns, ports de plaisance, services at frequent intervals, as well as countless waterside restaurants.

Another significant difference with the central or north-eastern canals is that there are very few locks, hence more time to spend enjoying the places you stop at. Allow time for getting side-tracked on the river Seille, in delightful pastoral landscapes, or on the Canal de Pont-de-Vaux. Lyon itself is a destination which now at last welcomes visiting boats, in the Lyon-Confluence port.

Then on to the Rhône, taking advantage of excellent moorings at regular intervals, and some well-equipped ports de plaisance. Favourites are Les Roches de Condrieu, Valence l’Épervière, Viviers and, of course, Avignon. Once in the delta, the Mediterranean is reached through the short canal at Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, while the Petit-Rhône is the route to the Southern waterways, especially the Canal du Midi (Midi meaning south).

Rivers and Canals of the Saone-Rhone Valley


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

South-East France

waterway navigation guide download

Complete south-east waterways – Grande Saone, Seille, Rhone, Petit Rhone, 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.