le Canal de la Robine

The Robine Canal

Le Canal de la Robine

Also known as the Narbonne canal, the Robine is a short, 30 kilometres long, waterway connecting the Aude River to the Mediterranean Sea. Crossing the beautiful and ancient city of Narbonne, it is also linked to the canal du Midi by the Junction canal. The Robine is a canalised river and a perfect detour from the Midi canal onwards to the Sea.

The waterway ends at la mer Méditerranée.

Navigation on the Robine Canal starts at Moussan and ends at Port-la-Nouvelle.

Construction began in 1686 and ended in 1780.

The Robine Canal is 32.00 kilometres long (19.88 miles) with a total of 32.00 kilometres of navigable waterway.

There is a total of 6 locks, with an average of 1 lock every 5.33 kilometres (3.31 miles).

The highest point on the Robine Canal is 12.00 metres (39′ 4″ ft) above sea level and the lowest point is at 1.00 metres (3′ 3″ ft) above sea level.

From Moussan to Port-la-Nouvelle

The water draft is 1.10 metres (3′ 7″ ft) and the air draft is 3.30 metres (10′ 10″ ft).

General lock size

There are "Freycinet-like" lock types.
Lock length 40.00 metres (131′ 3″ ft)
Lock width 5.80 metres (19′ 0″ ft)

Barges cruising on the Robine Canal

Name Itinerary Passengers
Athos Argeliers to Marseillan 10 View the itinerary
Enchanté Sallèles d'Aude to Trèbes 8 View the itinerary

Self-drive boats cruising on the Robine Canal

Fleet Cruise route
Le Boat The Canal du Midi View the Le Boat boats
Locaboat The Midi & the Camargue View the Locaboat boats
Nicols Camargue View the Nicols boats
Nicols Midi Canal View the Nicols boats
France Passion Plaisance Camargue View the France Passion Plaisance boats
France Passion Plaisance Canal du Midi View the France Passion Plaisance boats
Le Boat The Camargue View the Le Boat boats

The Robine is a river with a long history of navigation. The Robine is a natural route for joining the Aube river to the Mediterranean Sea. The region's indigenous inhabitants are known to have used it more than two thousand years ago. The occupying Romans, who were skilled engineers, thought of modifying the natural layout and flow of the river to make navigation easier. In fact, it can be said that people living in this region have always taken advantage of the river, and this continued until the 17th century. In the mid-1660s, as the construction of the Midi canal began, surveyors and engineers considered using and canalising rivers near the Aude to control its water flow. At the same time, the government of Narbonne was highly disappointed to see the city excluded from the delineation of the Midi canal. They were asking for a connection to enjoy the future commercial benefits this waterway would bring. Work began in 1686, using the old riverbed of the Robine.

The marquis de Vauban, more famous for his fortifications than for his numerous works on waterways, was behind this construction. If Narbonne was finally connected to the Aude river at Moussan through this canal, it would take another century for a proper connection with the canal du Midi to be made. Indeed, once reaching the Aude, goods heading towards Narbonne or leaving the city needed to be transported on the ground to reach the Midi canal. In 1775, the archbishop of Narbonne, Monseigneur Dillon, was particularly annoyed that the necessary funds to build the junction canal had not been found in 100 years. This is why he campaigned for the local Languedoc parliament to fund the project. He succeeded and the canal was complete five years later. The Robine then provided the Midi canal with a third mouth to the Sea.

Today, the Robine canal is a beautiful gateway route to make a detour as one navigates on the Midi canal. It is the occasion to visit the wonderful city of Narbonne, known for its Roman history, medieval and Renaissance palace of the archbishops, vineyards, and one of the 9 habited bridges in France: the Merchant's Bridge. Like the Midi canal, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testimony to the beauty of this small canalized river.


  • Andreossy, Antoine-François (1804), Histoire du Canal du Midi ou Canal de Languedoc, vol. I., Paris, Grapelet [Online].
  • Degos, Jean-Guy, Prat, Christian (2010), « Le Canal du Midi au 17e siècle » in Journées d’Histoire de la Comptabilité et du Mangement, France [Online]
  • Marconis, Robert (1981), « Les canaux du Midi. Outil économique ou monument du patrimoine régional » in Revue géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest, n°52, pp. 7-40.
  • (s.d.), « Le Canal de jonction et la Robine de Narbonne » in Le Canal du Midi [Online].

More details about The Camargue region