France » Canal du Rhône au Rhin | French Canal

Canal du Rhône au Rhin - upper Alsace, along the Jura to mid Saone

Canal du Rhône au Rhin | French Canal: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Length of waterway: 236 km
Number of locks: 114
Lock dimensions: 38.50 X 5.08
Max. depth: 1.80
Max. headroom: 3.43
Degree of difficulty: Demanding
Requirements: No license asked for hired boats
Character of waterway: back to nature, with urban surroundings
Profile of waterway: Commercial traffic and tourism
Facilities groundside: Sufficiant

Weitere Informationen

Waterway has access to:

Canal de Bourgogne
River Saône, Auxonne to Lyon | France
River Saône, Corre to Auxonne | France

Canal du Rhône au Rhin: On River Rhone to River Rhine, from Burgundy across the Jura to Alsace
The "Canal du Monsieur" was ready in 1843. Once, this very proud waterway went from St. Symphorien at the Saone over Mulhouse to Strasbourg. When the motorway was built, unfortunately the stretch between Strasbourg and Mulhouse was destroyed. The northerly part is now redone and at least the part between Strasbourg and Colmar will be navigable again.
The project for upgrading of this waterway to one for big vessels from Saone to Rhine was already approved when it, some year ago, because of a change in government, was put away. And, this might well be definite. For some time locks were in a very bad order, since one counted on new ones. During the last years they were repaired and the canal can be passed without any problems now.

A house boat holiday Burgundy through Franche Comté to the Alsace.
Advantages: Very beautiful surroundings, the change between the river Doubs and the canal brings a lot of variety.
For people with some experience a very interesting waterway, not really recommendable to beginners.

Places on the Canal du Rhône au Rhin
Dannemarie / Belfort / Montbéliard / Isle-sur-le-Doubs / Beaume les Dames / Besançon / Dole

Houseboat hire in France, Canal du Rhône au Rhin

Locaboat Holidays, Besançon

Nicols, Dôle

Le Boat, Saint Jean de Losne

Coming from the Saone, one already stands in front of the first Pièce de Résistance; the entrance to the first lock is because of strong current on the Saone not always easy. Having managed this, it gets easier, one has to take care in the narrow turns and there are quite a few shallow waters. We recommend a shop at Dôle on the first day, this means start off early! The town of Dôle recompenses in any respect for the last, a bit difficult kilometers. You’ll find here a nice harbor with all amenities and the town offers noble Restaurants and comfortable Brasseries. After a short way on the Doubs, you continue again on the canal. At the narrow crossing of Orchamps, one has to take care, it may well be that you suddenly find yourself in front of a hug loaded vessel and that you have to go backwards. The following villages of Ranchot and Dammpierre have no official wharf. But, it’s worth to tie up somewhere just as well.  Be careful by doing so all along the way, vessels might pass producing strong wakes. There are not so many but they always come at the wrong moment and the wrong place.

Next stopping possibility is the landing stage in front of Tunnel de Thoraise, at Aveney you should tie up right at the beginning of the village if possible. Between the following places Beure and Velote is the small shipyard “Besançon Nord”, in case you have a problem, then comes the nice old town Besançon, hired boats usually have so little draught, that they can pass through the town on the Doubs.  You have there the possibility to tie up at the port St. Paul. Visiting the town with its impressing fortifications is a must.
Having left this lovely place, you pass the villages Novillard and Delus before you reach the very impressive canyon of Laissey. On the side branch of the Doubs to Douvon, one finds a private pontoon with water and electricity. The wharf of Baumes les Dames in on the left a bit before the village, there is a super market on the other side of the canal. Don’t miss it it’s the only one far and wide. You know often change between the Doubs and the canal, Clerval offers a wharf with water and electricity and a, sometimes open, Restaurant. Next stop with all amenities is at the very nice small town Isle sur le Doubs. Dampierre sur Doubs has a small wharf and a Restaurant. Short after, River Doubs finally says goodbye and soon after, we reach the city of Peugeot, Montbéliard with a good port but, there are nicer places! Right after it, the side branch to Belfort turns off. Since it doesn’t go into the town anymore, the detour is not worthwhile.  We stay on the very straight canal and bring the last 4 locks until the crest behind us.  After this, the flight of locks before Dannemarie is awaiting us (15 locks on 4 km), a stop in the big port of Dannemarie is well deserved. No question, we have the somewhat dark Jura left behind and are at Alsace, the colorful houses, the inviting Restaurants and good food show it clearly. Another good day’s trip later we are arriving at Mulhouse.

Wine and Dine
A waterway that offers many culinary highlights. Beginning with the dishes of Saone valley (see also under Saône de Corre à Auxonne), you'll meet then at Dole the dishes of Franche Comté, which starts here with chicken and rabbit rather light and getting more solid in hilly Jura. Here in the mountains you might try the well known Saucisses de Marteau or cheese fondue as well as Lapin aux Mirabelles, if you manage to find one.
The other way down, the fresh and lighthearted cuisine of Alsace with Choucroute, Tartes flambées Baekoefe and more is a must.
It's about the same with wines. With the first lock, you leave the "Cote d'Or". In Jura are good and light wines produced, amongst them the well known Arbois- Cotes du Jura - as well as specialities like Vin Jaune du Chàteau-Chalon. The many known vines of Alsace can't be further introduced here.