Johans Kayak Site

Canal de l'Ourcq

The canal has a length of 103.5 km and runs from La Ferté-Milon to the Bassin de la Villette in Paris.


  1. La Ferté-Milon - Mareuil sur Ourcq - Canal du Clignon 2 x 10.5 = 21 km. (6 portages in total)
  2. Sevran - Parijs 2 x 13 = 26 km. (no portages)

It is a rather narrow canal, and there are nine locks. There's not much boating, so it's very quiet and suitable for kayaking. The many bends, the quietness and the varying landscapes make it very attractive. The canal dates back to Napoleontic times. It was first opened in 1822. Its main use was for transporting grain, wood and drinking water towards Paris. From 1838 on the mail was transported on the canal. At Villers-les-Regault there is a pumping station that pumped water from the river Marne into the canal. Since 1993 it is a national monument.

No kayak rentals

Camping along the canal:

There is only one campsite along the canal. It is situated at Varinfroy. Camping les Peupliers, Varinfroy. Phone 0344874662. Distance towards la Ferté-Milon 12 km. Distance towards Paris 96 km. From the town Meaux head north on the D 405 . At May the roadnumber changes into D936. Turn right towards Varinfroy at 18 km north of the town Meaux. The campsite is very small, a note on the gate says you can make camp if there is room. The owner will come to meet new arrivals in the evening. The campsite is directly along the canal. But there is only one entrance, and if someone has put his caravan here, you may not be able to pass it. But there are many places near bridges where you can put the kayak into the water.

Hotel Manoir de Gressy

In 2007 I stayed in hotel Manoir de Gressy, in Gressy at 35 km from Paris. It is a comfortable hotel with outdoor swimming pool situated 1 km from the canal. Leave the N3 (Paris-Meaux) at Gressy. Head north on the D212 through the commercial zone. After the commercial zone turn right at the roundabout. The hotel is in the middle of the village. You can book a room through There is a good starting point at the canal just outside the village across the bridge of the TGV. There is a parking place Boisserie la Rosée.

La Ferté-Milon - Mareuil sur Ourcq - Canal du Clignon

Ik made a trip from la Ferté Milon to Mareuil and back. Distance 2 x 6.5 km = 13 km. From Mareuil you can go a little further and then turn left on the only side canal side canal: the Canal du Clignon. From Mareuil to the end of the side canal is about 4 km., so 8 km both ways. In la Ferté-Milon there is a steel hill with an unfishished castle from around 1400 on top of it. The Canal du Clignon is rather narrow. It was made as a feeder for the Canal de l'Ourcq. After a small distance you pass over the river Ourcq on an aqueduct. A little further you see a small castle on your left that was used by the Templars. It dates back from about 1200. When I passed by, the ajacent church was open for public. The building was in a very bad shape. It looked like it was used as a stable for a long time. Now birds have taken possession of it. They found their way in through various holes.

GPS La Ferté-Milon: Lat. 49.1759 Lon 3.1247
GPS Mareuil sur Ourcq: Lat. 49.1369 Lon. 3.0791
GPS Farinfroy: Camping Les Peupliers: Lat. 49.0963 Lon. 3.0477
GPS Gressy: Boisserie la Rosée: Lat. 48.9590 Lon 2.6705
GPS Ecluse de Sevran: Lat. 48.9328 Lon 2.5244

Sign at la Ferté-Milon.

La Ferté Milon.

Canal de l'Ourcq.

Mareuil sur Ourcq.

Canal du Clignon at the castle of the templars.

Sevran - Parijs (2 x 13 km = 26 km)

In July 2007 I made a trip wiht my son from the locks at Sevran to the Bassin de la Villette (2 x 13 km = 26 km). To reach the starting point exit the N3 (Paris - Meaux) in the direction Sevran. Turn right and at the T-junction left on the D44. Keep going straight on until you come at a bridge. Across the bridge you turn left. The road is a dead end passing the locks. Just after the locks you can start your trip. There is free parking along the canal. The sides are rather high, but at several places they made iron ladders with a bar to hold. Here it is easy to step into the kayak.

Although the canal looks very quiet, in Paris you can expect some waves. On the way there is a boat-school and they may be practising sailing at high speed. Also you may meet pusher tugs transporting raw materials towards the cement factories along the canal.

At first sight the canal may look a bit boaring, but along the way you see many things of interest. There is a bike-road along the canal and many people ride their bike, go for a walk or go jogging along the canal. They often show an interest as kayaks are rarely seen on the canal. At Bobigny there was a school party with activities for children on the canal. They played with rubber boats and water-bikes. Ther was police with a rubber boat to keep an eye on them. When we saw them in the distance the police approached us with high speed. They asked us to stop because of the children, and asked if we had a permit. We told them we don't need a permit for the canal and asked how long we would have to wait. It was all right, we could pass them if we promised to be very careful. Without any collision with the French children we managed to get passed them. Further on there are many warehouses on the left side. A large wall separates them from the canal. This is an area where graffiti artist may show their skills. You can see them at work here. Near the highway Periphérique at Pantin there is a large factory on the right being broken down. Then you come at the Parc de la Villette. It stretches out on both sides of the canal. It is the largest parc of Paris and it contains a technical museum and many other things of interest, like the huge Geode. We passed the parc until we reached the end of the canal at Bassin de la Villette. On the way back we paused at the park. We put the kayaks on the side against a wall and we went for a walk. When we returned there were two fat ladies sitting on the deck of my sons PE kayak. The deck had popped in, apparently this did not bother them. We asked to stand up and showed them the damage they did. No appologies or whatever they left. When they were away I popped the deck back into shape being glad there was no damage and they had not choosed my polyester kayak to sit on. We did not dare to leave the kayaks unattended any more so without seeing most of the parc we returned.

Canal de l'Ourcq near Gressy.



Low bridge. It's just possible to go under it by kayak.

Bassin de la Villette, at the end of the Canal de l'Ourcq. On the left is the entrance to the locks to Canal St. Martin. This canal goes partly underground to the river Seine.