This section covers the enormously popular waterway that crosses southern France from the Rhône to Toulouse, a distance of just under 350km. The route starts from the Rhône at Fourques just north of Arles, via the Petit-Rhône. It continues on the Canal du Rhône à Sète, for 69km (no locks) from Saint-Gilles to Sète. Navigation is then in the Étang de Thau over a distance of 17km. After this long and fascinating hors d’œuvre, it will be time to attack the plat de résistance, the famous 240km-long Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

After the multiple choices heading down through France, the plaisancier has a single itinerary to follow through to Toulouse, enjoying a remarkable diversity of landscapes, traditions, food and wines, and countless sites to visit, both on the main route and on the many branches to explore on the way. Allow at least three weeks to make this transit, including the branches to Montpellier and Narbonne. The ‘branch’ to Beaucaire will mainly be of interest to those who plan to leave their boats there in the popular port de plaisance.

This is a thoroughly compelling cruising region, despite the reservations expressed by plaisanciers on account of the heavy traffic of unpredictable hire boats during the peak season, with possible delays at some locks. Throughout the rest of the year, the canal experience fully lives up to its reputation, and even the most disgruntled plaisancier will return with renewed enthusiasm once his reservations have been put into perspective.

Rivers and Canals of Midi and Camargue


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

Southern France

waterway navigation guide download

Complete southern waterways – Canal du Midi, Nouvelle branch, Rhone-Sete, 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.