France » Canal de Calais / de Bourbourg / de Furnes / de Bergues & l'Aa

The French canal system in the south of Dunkirk and Calais


Canal de Calais / de Bourbourg / de Furnes / de Bergues & l'Aa: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Degree of difficulty: Some experience is an advantage
Requirements: Boating license essential
Character of waterway: no rating
Profile of waterway: Commercial traffic and tourism
Facilities groundside: Sufficiant

Weitere Informationen

Waterway has access to:

Kanaal Nieuwpoort-Duinkerke / Nieuwpoort - Plassendale | Belgium
Liaison Dunkerque - Escaut, Grand Gabarit | Waterways in France

Canal de Calais
This short canal connects the canalized Aa with Calais and the Channel. Three side canals branch off; the Canal de Guïnes, Canal d’Ardres and the branch canal to Audruicq. Only the later is navigable. Canal de Guïnes is blocked by a solid bridge right after branching off and Canal d’Ardres after 4 km.

Length 29.5 km / locks 1 / headroom 3.47 m / depth 2.00 m / lock dimensions 38.80 x 5.05 m

L’Aa / River Aa from Gravelines to Watten
River Aa is from its confluence with Canal de Neufossée at Saint Omer to the mouth into the North Sea at Graveline navigable. Between Saint Omer and Watten it is a stretch of the big gauche waterway Dunkirk – Escaut (Schelde), as from Watten to the North Sea it corresponds to the Gabarit Freycinettes (38.80 x 5.05 m).

Length 18.2 km / locks 1 / headroom 5 m / depth 1.80 m / lock dimensions 38.80 x 5.05 m


Canal de Bourbourg
This is the short link between the port of Dunkirk and the underflow of River Aa.

Length 19.3 km / locks 3 / headroom 3.65 / depth 2.20 / lock dimensions 38.80 x 5.05 m

Canal de Bergues
The canal from Dunkirk to the fortified town of Bergues is, since the closing of the Canal de la Haute Colme, unfortunately a dead end. But, the detour is well worth while.

Length 8.1 km / headroom 3.50 / depth 1.80 m / dimensions 38.80 x 5.05 m

Canal de Furnes / Nieuport – Dunkirk
The most northern canal link between France and Belgium.
It was built in 1638 already in order to connect the city of Dunkirk with the Belgian coasts.
The 13.5 km to the border pass mostly urban area of Dunkirk and go then past the huge dunes and Malo-les-Bains to the border. 
At weekends locks and lift bridges are served if you applied for it only.

Length (to the Belgium border) 13.2 km / locks 1 / headroom 3.81 m / depth 1.80 m / lock dimensions 38.80 x 5.05 m

Boating and houseboat holidays in Pas de Calais
The canal crosses the “Parc regional de l’Audomarois” and the surrounding is rather charming. Unfortunately the necessary infrastructure for boaters is missing. First of all house boat hirers!