The Loing Canal

Le Canal de Loing

The canal du Loing is a lateral waterway to the river of the same name. Connecting the Briare and Orléans canals to the Seine, the Loing canal offers a beautiful journey onwards to the Parisian region or the central waterways, through a route bordered by trees and pretty towns.

The waterway connects le Canal de Briare to la Seine.

Navigation on the Loing Canal starts at Buges and ends at Saint-Mammès.

Construction began in 1719 and ended in 1723.

The Loing Canal is 49.50 kilometres long (30.76 miles) with a total of 49.50 kilometres of navigable waterway.

There is a total of 19 locks, with an average of 1 lock every 2.61 kilometres (1.62 miles).

From Buges to Saint-Mammès

The water draft is 1.80 metres (5′ 11″ ft) and the air draft is 3.50 metres (11′ 6″ ft).

General lock size

There are "Freycinet" lock types.
Lock length 39.00 metres (127′ 11″ ft)
Lock width 5.20 metres (17′ 1″ ft)

Barges cruising on the Loing Canal

Name Itinerary Passengers
Renaissance Montargis to Chatillon 8 View the itinerary

Self-drive boats cruising on the Loing Canal

Fleet Cruise route
Locaboat The Nivernais canal & River Yonne View the Locaboat boats
Nicols Loire & Briare canals View the Nicols boats
Locaboat The Loire and Briare canals View the Locaboat boats
France Passion Plaisance The Loire canal & Briare canal View the France Passion Plaisance boats

As with other canals and waterways connecting the Loire and Seine basins, the primary purpose of the Loing canal was to ensure Paris could be sufficiently supplied with cereals and other goods. This was an important part of the policies of the royal government in the early 17th century, as can be seen by the decision of Henri IV and his successor Louis XIII to support the construction of the Briare canal. At Buges, where the Briare canal ends shortly after Montargis, barges used to navigate on the Loing river to reach the Seine. However, this river was partially difficult to navigate because of its narrowness near the Seine and its periodic floods. To add to this difficulty, the old flash locks and watermills on the river had become a nuisance.

Overall, the Loing was unable to sustain traffic that was constantly increasing. Since the Middle Ages, the Loing was a key waterway not only for commercial navigation but also for the transportation of passengers from Paris to the Rhone through the Loing and the Loire.

In 1720, Duke Phillippe of Orléans, then regent of France after the death of the Sun King, considered creating a canal along the Loing river to alleviate the flow of navigation and open up the Briare and Orléans canals to the Seine. The task was given to Jean Baptiste de Règemorte, an engineer of Dutch descent who had worked for the marquis de Vauban. Règemorte died in early 1725, shortly after the completion of the Loing canal the year before. From Buges, the canal follows and sometimes blends with the Loing until it flows into the Seine at Saint-Mammès. It had a relatively impressive gauge compared to other similar canals. Indeed, locks were 60 metres long and up to 12 metres wide. The dimensions were modified to the smaller Becquey gauge in the 1820s, and later to Freycinet by the end of the 19th century. Then, the network of canals and rivers of central France and lower Burgundy was key to commercial navigation in the country and, especially, around Paris. The canal du Loing was an essential link. However, as waterways had long lost their advantage of being the fastest and most efficient communication route, commercial traffic declined gradually during the middle of the 20th century. In 1967, the State, that owned the canal, thought of modernizing the canal by reducing the number of locks from 21 to only 7. The project was not pursued.

This 49-kilometre-long canal and the rest of the central waterways offer an idyllic and peaceful cruise. At Nemours, on the left bank of the canal, there is a 12th-century castle transformed into a museum with a fantastic pottery collection. Still on the left bank, while approaching the connection with the Seine lies the forest of Fontainebleau. The city of Fontainebleau and its great chateau, home to kings and emperors for 8 centuries, is just a few kilometres up north.


  • Bouron, Suzanne (1932), « Les voies navigables françaises de Bourgogne et du Centre » in Annales de géographies, n°230, pp. 188-96.
  • Chardonnet, Jacques (1998), « La destinée du triangle navigable de Basse Bourgogne », in Revue Géographique de l’Est, n°38, pp. 89-101.
  • Mauret-Cribellier, Valérie, « Canal de navigation dit Canal du Loing », in Mérimée, plateforme ouverte du patrimoine, Ministère de la Culture [Online].
  • Tarbé de Saint-Hardouin, F. (1884), Notices biographiques sur les ingénieurs des ponts et chaussées, Paris, Librairie Polytechnique, pp. 30-31 [Online].
  • (s.d.), « Le canal du Loing » in Projet Babel [Online].

More details about The Loire Valley region