Information about the 132km long river Sarthe


The Sarthe is navigable from the Barrage d’Enfer, a weir situated in the town of Le Mans, to its confluence with the Mayenne upstream of Angers, a distance of 132km. Over the first 113km down to the lock at Cheffes the river is canalised. The remaining 18km is free-flow navigation, offering restricted depths during summer drought periods. This problem has been solved by the construction of a new weir and lock on the Maine downstream of Angers (see under Mayenne-Maine). Together with the Mayenne and Oudon, the Sarthe forms the Anjou river system, a delightful cruising network where several hire bases have been established.

History – With its gentle gradient the river was naturally navigable up to Malicorne. Flash locks were built in the Middle Ages to enable boats to reach Le Mans, but by the 16th century were no longer in use. The town actively promoted canalisation from the early 18th century and works Sarthe-regwere let to a private company in 1741. The project was shelved, to be revived at the same time as that for the Mayenne, in the mid-19th century. The flash locks were replaced by a reduced number of weirs and locks, some of them in lock-cuts. The navigation was abandoned after World War II, to be revived from the 1970s after the successful campaign by the Brittany Canals Committee, which also covered the rivers of Anjou.

Key Waterway Dimensions

  • Max Beam: 5.15m
  • Max Height: 3.90m
  • Max Draught: 1.40m

Local Waterway Links


Locks – There are 20 locks. The first 16 (down to the limit of  Sarthe and Maine-et-Loire) are 30.85m long and 5.20m wide. The last four are 33.00m long and 5.15m wide.

Draught – The maximum authorised draught is 1.40m, but in practice there is only 1.10m between Le Mans and Sablé during low flow periods, and little more in the free-flow section downstream of Cheffes lock.

Headroom – From Le Mans to km 86 the bridges offer a minimum headroom of 3.90m (reduced to 3.40 above the highest navigable water level). Over the rest of the waterway the least headroom is 4.40m (4.00m above HNWL). It should be noted that access to the moorings at Malicorne, on the weir stream at PK 47, is through a bridge offering very restricted headroom (2.35m).

Towpath – There is no regular towpath, but the Sarthe département plans to build a riverside path.

Authority – Direction Départementale des Territoires
de la Sarthe
–    12 rue Ferdinand de Lesseps
72013 Le Mans Cedex 2
tel 02 43 50 46 00

Click to enlarge

Sarthe waterway strip

Route description

PK 0.0     Weir (Barrage d’Enfer), limit of navigation in Le Mans
PK 0.5     Bridge (Pont Yssoir)
PK 0.8     Bridge (Pont Perrin)
PK 0.9     Bridge (Pont Gambetta), quay d/s r/b, tram line
PK 1.5     Le Mans bridge (Pont de Fer), weir l/b, quays u/s r/b for 18 boats, €12 (two nights free, water, electricity, shower, crane on request, slipway, pump-out, town centre l/b, entrance to lock-cut r/b
PK 1.8     Bridge (Pont d’Eichtal or des Tabacs)
PK 2.0     Railway bridge
PK 2.1     Lock 1 (Le Mans), end of lock-cut
PK 2.7     Footbridge (des Sables d’Or)
PK 3.0     Confluence of Huisne, l/b
PK 3.2     Foot and cycle bridge (des Riffandières)
PK 3.3     Road bridge (D338, Le Mans ring road)
PK 4.0     Railway bridge
PK 4.4     Entrance to lock-cut, l/b, weir r/b
PK 4.7     Bridge (Pont Rouge)
PK 5.2     Lock 2 (Raterie), end of lock-cut
PK 5.4     Bridge (D147e)
PK 5.9     Footbridge (Chahoué)
PK 6.2     Weir l/b
PK 6.5     Lock 3 (Chahoué)
PK 9.3     Bridge
PK 10.0     Main road bridge (D323)
PK 11.3     Arnage l/b
PK 12.2     Island
PK 13.6     Maine-Marine boat-club l/b, 70 berths, water, electricity, showers
PK 13.9     Main road bridge (D323)
PK 14.2     Entrance to lock-cut, l/b, bridge
PK 14.5     Spay bridge, village 600m r/b
PK 15.4     Lock 4 (Spay), end of lock-cut
PK 17.4     Fillé-sur-Sarthe bridge, village r/b, pontoons d/s r/b for 6 boats, water, electricity
PK 17.7     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 17.9     Flood gates, bridge
PK 20.3     Bridge (Cheneaux)
PK 22.2     Lock 5 (Roëzé), end of lock-cut
PK 23.4     Roëzé-sur-Sarthe bridge, village r/b, pontoon d/s l/b, water, shower at campsite, slipway
PK 26.0     Bridge (D23)
PK 26.8     La Suze-sur-Sarthe bridge, quay u/s r/b, 6 boats, water, electricity, village l/b
PK 26.9     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 27.1     Railway bridge
PK 27.3     Lock 6 (La Suze), end of lock-cut
PK 33.1     Fercé-sur-Sarthe bridge, village 200m r/b
PK 33.3     Lock 7 (Fercé) l/b and weir
PK 40.1     Railway bridge
PK 40.3     Noyen-sur-Sarthe quay r/b for 9 boats, water, electricity, slipway,pump-out, village r/b
PK 40.4     Entrance to lock-cut, l/b
PK 40.6     Bridge
PK 41.8     Lock 8 (Noyen), end of lock-cut
PK 47.0     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 47.2     Malicorne-sur-Sarthe bridge, village 300m l/b, quays on weir stream, access from u/s, water,  electricity, shower €1
PK 47.4     Lock 9 (Malicorne), end of lock-cut
PK 51.8     Motorway bridge (A11)
PK 52.9     Dureil small village with church, l/b
PK 54.7     Château r/b (Château de Pêcheseul)
PK 56.0     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 56.4     Lock 10 (Ignères), end of lock-cut
PK 58.8     Entrance to lock-cut r/b, quay l/b, water, slipway
PK 59.1     Parcé-sur-Sarthe bridge, quay d/s l/b, village 200m
PK 59.3     Lock 11 (Parcé), end of lock-cut
PK 61.7     Avoise r/b
PK 63.5     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 64.1     Lock 12 (Courtigné), end of lock-cut
PK 65.4     Confluence of Vègre, r/b
PK 69.3     Lock 13 (Juigné-sur-Sarthe) r/b and weir, village r/b, pontoon u/s r/b, water, electricity
PK 70.3     Solesmes bridge, pontoon u/s r/b, slipway, village and abbey l/b
PK 70.5     Entrance to lock-cut r/b
PK 71.0     Lock 14 (Solesmes) in short cut, r/b, end of lock-cut
PK 72.2     Railway bridge (Port-Étroit), quay r/b
PK 72.9     Bridge (D306)
PK 73.2     Sablé-sur-Sarthe bridge, quay d/s l/b, Anjou Navigation hire base, 5 visitors’ berths, €3.50 (3 nights free), water, electricity, showers, small town r/b
PK 73.5     Lock 15 (Sablé), weir stream enters l/b
PK 75.3     Island, channel in r/b arm
PK 76.7     Island
PK 78.1     Railway viaduct
PK 81.6     Entrance to lock-cut r/b
PK 82.0     Lock 16 (Beffes), end of lock-cut
PK 87.6     Entrance to lock-cut r/b, weir and mill l/b
PK 88.0     Lock 17 (Pendu), end of lock-cut
PK 90.5     Island, channel in r/b arm
PK 91.3     Morannes bridge, quay d/s l/b, slipway, village l/b
PK 94.0     Entrance to lock-cut, r/b
PK 94.2     Lock 18 (Villechien), weir and hydropower station l/b, end of lock-cut
PK 98.3     Brissarthe quay and village r/b
PK 100.2     Le Porage, railway station, l/b
PK 103.9     Lock 19 (Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe) r/b and weir
PK 104.1     Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe bridge, quay d/s r/b, village r/b, boat harbour l/b (pontoons)
PK 106.7     Juvardeil quay and village r/b
PK 109.8     River divides, navigation in r/b arm
PK 111.6     (Boats heading u/s) river divides, navigation in r/b arm
PK 113.5     Weir (Cheffes) l/b
PK 114.1     Bridge (D74)
PK 114.3     Cheffes r/b, moorings (15 boats), water, electricity, shower at camp site, slipway
PK 114.4     Lock 20 (Cheffes) l/b and weir
PK 121.1     Briollay bridge, village d/s l/b, moorings d/s l/b, water
PK 123.4     Confluence of Loir, l/b (Bec du Loir)
PK 127.9     Écouflant l/b
PK 128.3     Confluence of Vieille-Maine  (3km navigable arm connecting with Mayenne) r/b, pontoon l/b, water, slipway
PK 130.6     Island, pass on r/b side
PK 132.6     Confluence with Mayenne and Maine (3km u/s of Angers)

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Base locations map – Anjou