The Oise lateral canal

Le Canal latéral à l'Oise

The lateral canal of the Oise is a key link between the Northern waterways and the Seine. It is a short canal flowing through both countryside and cities of regional importance. It is a valuable infrastructure for commercial navigation. The ongoing Seine-Nord Europe canal project may have considerable influence on the future of this canal.

The waterway connects le Canal de la Sambre à l'Oise to l'Oise.

Navigation on the Oise lateral canal starts at Chauny and ends at Janville.

Construction began in 1825 and ended in 1831.

The Oise lateral canal is 34.00 kilometres long (21.13 miles) with a total of 34.00 kilometres of navigable waterway.

There is a total of 4 locks, with an average of 1 lock every 8.5 kilometres (5.28 miles).

The highest point on the Oise lateral canal is 41.00 metres (134′ 6″ ft) above sea level and the lowest point is at 31.00 metres (101′ 8″ ft) above sea level.

From Chauny to Janville

The water draft is 2.40 metres (7′ 10″ ft) and the air draft is 4.10 metres (13′ 5″ ft).

Chauny to Pont-l'Evêque

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

Pont-l'Evêque to Janville

There are "Large" lock types.
Lock length 91.00 metres (298′ 7″ ft)
Lock width 5.90 metres (19′ 4″ ft)

The lateral canal of the Oise was one of the numerous waterways wished by the State to develop and improve navigation between the Seine basin and the Northern industrial centres of the country. The river Oise was a major artery to transport coal from the mines of the North and of Belgium, before being distributed to the capital or more central ports. However, it has always been a partly tricky meandering river to navigate. Thus, in 1831, as part of this waterway development project, the royal government decided to fund the construction of a lateral canal of the Oise river. Initially, the canal built was called the Manicamp canal because it started at the junction with the Saint-Quentin and Sambre-Oise canals at Tergnier, and ended near the town of Manicamp. There, the canal merged with the Oise. A second segment was later built up to Janville, just above the city of Compiègne where the Aisne flows into the Oise. The lateral canal has known 2 major transformations. Originally built to the Becquey gauge, it was later modified to Freycinet dimensions.

Several decades later, around the second half of the 20th century, during the construction of the Nord canal (interrupted twice because of the World Wars), it was decided to again increase the capacity of the lateral canal of the Oise. As it was unable to form a continuity with some of the other waterways, the water draft was increased from 1,80 metres to 2,40 metres. Locks were also enlarged from Pont-l’Evêque to Janville to the dimensions of 5,90 x 91.

The upcoming Seine-Nord Europe canal that will link the Oise to the Scheldt river from Compiègne to Cambrai may prove to be a serious blow to the lateral canal who has so far retained its commercial importance.


  • Créton, H. (1932), « Les voies navigables de l’Est de la France » in Annales de géographies, n°234, pp. 583-599 [Online] (Consulted 2 June 2022).
  • Pasquier, Yves (1954), « La navigation intérieure en France », in L’Information Géographique, n°18, pp. 178-190 [Online] (consulted 2 June 2022).
  • (s.d.), « Canal de la Marne au Rhin » in Projet Babel [Online] (consulted 2 June 2022).

More details about The Île-de-France region