France » River Garonne / Gironde / Dordogne / l'Isle | France

The Rivers of the Bordeaux wine area

River Garonne / Gironde / Dordogne / l'Isle | France: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Length of waterway: 54 km
Max. headroom: 3.50
Degree of difficulty: Very demanding
Requirements: Boating license essential
Character of waterway: back to nature
Profile of waterway: Commercial traffic and tourism
Facilities groundside: Not sufficiant

Weitere Informationen

Waterway has access to:

Canal de Garonne | French Canals
Atlantic Sea

River Rhone to the Atlantic Sea:
Canal du Rhône à Sète / Canal du Midi / Canal lat. à la Garonne / Garonne

La Garonne
Even though the area is very charming, a houseboat holiday can’t be recommended on this river since the boats don’t have enough power.

River Garonne
Has its source in the Spanish Pyrenean, just at the border to France. It flows then first in a huge bow to the northeast to the city Toulouse, where it turns towards the Atlantic Sea. As from Toulouse, it’s accompanied by the Canal lateral à la Garonne but at Castets en Dorthe the river takes responsibility over navigation himself. It happens now and again that there is a lack of water for commercial traffic. For leisure boating, there is most of the times enough of it. Right after Bordeaux, River Garonne flows into the Dordogne and they become the Gironde. As from there, navigation is subject to maritime regulations.

What is it called, the area of Castets en Dorthe: Sauternais, Graves, Pay de Lanon!

Let’s therefore leave Castet and already after two hours of navigation, which is rather demanding on this part of the river, we get to Langon. Here is the center of the great Sauternes and Graves and lovers of wine will have to have difficulties to continue their voyage. Cadillac (for once a village and no car) we leave on our right hand side and arrive at Podensac. There is a wine museum combining a visit to a wine cellar. Ale and water drinkers may enjoy themselves in the beautiful woods of this area. Continuing our trip, on our left hand side, Sauterne is displaced by Graves and on our right come the wine yards of Premières Côtes de Bordeaux into sight. Passing the Châteaux of Grimont and Fourney, we come close to the end of our trip; Bordeaux: The capital of wines.

River Gironde
A few kilometers after Bordeaux, the two rivers Garonne and Dordogne join together and become the Gironde which is maritime water. Staying on one of the few pontoons is rather uncomfortable since ocean liners produce quite some swell…

River Dordogne
Also this river is depending on tides quite fare to the inland. As from Castillan-la-Bateille things become quieter but navigation stays demanding. At Ste-Foy-la-Grande, the navigable stretch of the river comes to an end.

This was once a very important waterway link for Périgord.  Canalization started already in the 17th century. In 1768 the first barges reached Périgueux. The 9 chamber locks were closed in the 18th century but soon after, one started with construction of the new locks. In 1938, the stretch between Périgueux and Coutras, 110 km and 39 locks, was open to navigation again.
In 1956, navigation ceased once more, some short stretches however, remained navigable. The final 30 km until Libourne, the waterway is navigable and maritime water.

Wine and Dine
There is an immense choice of wines and dishes going with them; go there and enjoy it all!