France » Canal du Nivernais | French Canal

A gorgeous old canal at the upper Yonne; locks have to be operated by hand. An insiders’ tip!


Canal du Nivernais | French Canal: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Length of waterway: 174 km
Number of locks: 108
Lock dimensions: 38.50 x 5.08
Max. depth: 1.20
Max. headroom: 2.50
Degree of difficulty: For beginners (many locks)
Requirements: No license asked for hired boats
Character of waterway: back to nature, old waterway, to be rediscovered
Profile of waterway: Used by tourists only
Facilities groundside: Good

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Waterway has access to:

Canal latéral à la Loire | French Canal
River Yonne | France

Canal du Nivernais
In 1784 work started on this canal which leads from the Loire, at Decize, to Auxonne at the Yonne. At first it was not meant to connect the two rivers, it was built for timber rafting from the region of Châtillon en Bazois to Paris. Transportation of goods started in 1843 but since the locks are rather small this has stopped long ago and now this lovely canal at the foot of the Morvan is reserved to tourism.

Information to the Canal du Nivernais
It is a very charming and varied canal in the middle of a wide surrounding with gentle hills. One keeps coming to these very typical villages and towns of France. The sometimes very old wooden locks, the lifting bridges and tunnels make Canal du Nivernais to one of the most interesting waterways in France.
Disadvantage: Some may find that there are a bit many locks on the northern part of the canal.

Houseboat Holiays in France, Canal du Nivernais

Locaboat Holidays, Corbigny & Chagny (Yonne)
Le Boat, Châtel-Censoir, Cuzy, Dezice
FPP, Coulanges
Bourgogne Fluvial, Vermenton
Ad Navis, Baye
France Afloat, Vermenton

Important places:
Auxerre, the capital of the Nièvre is a very beautiful town with all amenities and a very nice port. The city lies on River Yonne and is also the northern end of the Canal du Nivernais.
Vermenton: One gets to the homely harbor of this small town through a short branch canal with 2 locks. A nice Restaurant, a supermarket and a boat mechanic are nearby.
Clamency: A very nice, medieval town, the domicile of the Sous-préfécture.
Chatillon-en-Bazois:  A small, typical French town with a somehow dark castle, right at the harbor.
Dezice: At the southern end of the canal, at the Loire is this proud, medieval mariner’s town with access to the Loire, the Canal latéral à la Loire and the Canal du Nivernais.

Object of interest is here the old canal itself with the quite surroundings and the wide pastures.