Johans Kayak Site

Canal de l'Ourcq

The canal has a length of 107 km from Port aux Perches near La Ferté-Milon to the Bassin de la Villette in Paris.

Is is navigatable by kayaks for the whole length of the canal. There are low sides almost everywhere. You have to portage at he locks.

Kayak rentals

Actiloisirs. La Maison du Canoë, 74 Rue Principale, 60890 Varinfroy.
Tel.: +33 (0)6-14729349. Can be reached by train from Paris: change at Meaux, then to Crouy-sur-Ourcq.

Camping along the canal:

Camping Les Peupliers, Rue Principale, 60890 Varinfroy.
Tel.: +33 (0)344874664. Open from April till October.

Hotel Acostel near Meaux.

In 2018 I stayed at Hotel Acostel, 336 Avenue de la Victoire, 77100 Meaux. It is situated at a beautiful and quiet location along the River Marne near the bridge to Trilport.

The Canal de l'Ourcq is named after the river Ourcq that feeds the canal 3 km north of La Ferté-Milon. Usually the river and the water from the rain that comes from the surrounding hills provide the canal with enough water. The water flows from 2 km/h to practically zero in dry summer periodes. At dry periodes the pumping stations (usine élévatoire) at Villers-les-Riagault and Trilbardou can pump up water from the nearby river Marne.
The canal is rather narrow, 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 and it was built to provide the growing city of Paris with fresh drinking water. It was first opened in 1822. Soon it was also used for transporting grain, timber for heating and other goods towards Paris. From 1838 on the mail was transported on the canal. The canal was connected to the River Seine by the Canal St. Martin (partially underground now), and the Canal St. Denis. After restauration it became a national monument in 1993.


All of the canal is navigatable by kayak. The most beautiful parts are upstream from Meaux, especially the last section between Mareuil and the end of the canal.  And it's nice to kayak into Paris.

  1. Port aux Perches - La Ferté-Milon 2 x 3 km = 6 km in total.
  2. La Ferté-Milon - Mareuil sur Ourcq - Canal du Clignon 2 x 10.5 = 21 km. (2 x 3 portages in total)
  3. Sevran - Parijs 2 x 13 = 26 km. (no portages)

Port aux Perches - La Ferté-Milon

At Port aux Perches there is a park and a restaurant. There's free parking and access to the canal is easy at the slipway where the river Ourcq enters the canal. It's only a short distance to La Ferté-Milon (3 km), but it's very beautiful. In La Ferté-Milon is a nice park at the locks. If you like you can portage (and cross a main road) and continue further on the canal.

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

At the locks of La Ferté-Milon there is free parking next to the canal. This is a good place to launch your kayak.
From here  you can go 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: the Canal du Clignon. From Mareuil to the end of the Canal du Clignon near Moisy is about 4 km, so 8 km both ways. 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.

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 and then 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 and you pass the locks. Just after the locks you can start your trip. There is free parking along the canal, but parking space is limited. 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.

In 2018 I found a better starting place a little further. There is a nice low side which makes launching the kayak easier. It's situated at a small park along the canal, and it's easier to park you car there. It's situated at the Allée du Maréchal in the residential neighborhoud Freinville.
To get here you exit the A3 at exit 6a towards Aulnay-sur Bois (N2). At the roundabout you turn right towards "Vieux Pays". At a main intersection you turn right on the N370 towards "Freinville". After a railroad bridge you turn left. Then after the railroad crossing you take the second street to the left. At the end you come at the canal.

At first sight the canal may look a bit boring, 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. Near the highway Periphérique at Pantin there is a large appartment house made of a former factory. Then you come at the Parc de la Villette. It stretches out on both sides of the canal. It has a technical museum and many other things of interest, like the huge Geode. At the end of the canal you come at Bassin de la Villette. They rent electro-boats here.

Port aux Perches: N. 49.1937 E. 3.1643
La Ferté-Milon: N. 49.1759 E. 3.1247
Moisy: N. 49.1118 E. 3.0949
Mareuil sur Ourcq: N. 49.1369 E. 3.0791
Farinfroy: La Maison du Canoë: N. 49.0898 E. 3.0565
Gressy: Boisserie la Rosée: N. 48.9590 E. 2.6705
Ecluse de Sevran: N. 48.9328 E 2.5244

Canal de l'Ourcq and River Marne around Meaux.

Downloadable GPS-track (65,2 km): Bicycle route from the bridge across the river Marne at Trilport near Meaux to the center of Paris. The route goes along the Canal de l'Ourcq.

The Canal de l'Ourcq begins at Port aux Perches. This is where the river Ourcq enters the canal. The river is shallow and not navigatable after the bend on the photo. At this point there is a park with a restaurant. You can launch the kayak at the slipway.

Old warehouse at La Ferté-Milon.

The restored watermill near the locks at La Ferté-Milon.

Sign at La Ferté-Milon.

La Ferté-Milon.



Canal du Clignon.

Castle of the Templars along the Canal du Clignon. It is private property and not open for the public. Restauration has been going on for years, and it's probably an on-going project.

Canal de l'Ourcq.

Kayak rentals near Varinfroy: La Maison du Canoë.

Canal de l'Ourcq between Meaux and Mareuil-sur-Ourcq.

Canal de l'Ourcq between Meaux and Mareuil-sur-Ourcq.

The canal around Meaux with the cathedral in the distance. There is a slipway at the bridge (road D603), but parking is difficult here.

Near Gressy. From Gressy on there is a bike-road along the canal leading all the way to the Parc de la Villette in Paris.

Parc de la Villette in Paris.

The last lift-bridge of Paris Pont Levant de la rue de Crimée dates from 1885 (photo taken in 2007).

View from the locks over the Bassin de la Villette at the end of the canal.

The Canal Saint-Martin connects the Canal de l'Ourcq to the River Seine.

Canal Saint-Martin.


From the bridge at Gressy there is a bike-road along the canal that leads all the way to Parc de la Vallette in Paris (23 km).
From Gressy to La Ferté-Milon the tow-path is unpaved and there are signs prohibiting to cycle along the canal. These signs are widely ignored, and why shouln't you cycle there? The bumps will slow you down, but it's nice to ride there as there is no motorized traffic and there are no hills. Except around Meaux, very few people walk along the canal.

Usines élévatoire

The pumping stations at Villers-les-Rigault and at Trilbardou are open for public only at request.

Restaurants in Meaux

In the center of Meaux you can find several restaurants in the Rue Fbg Saint-Nicolas: Turkish, Indian, Mexican etc. I enjoyed a Mexican meal at La Cantina Latina, 53 Rue Fbg Saint-Nicoalas.  I also enjoyed La Table du Rôtisseur, 102 Av. du Merichal Foch. And for Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food (also buffet available) I can recommend China Town, 10 Rue Aristide Briand.

Brie de Meaux

Produced in the area is de Brie de Meaux. The Brie de Meaux is a bit more tasty than most brie cheeses. It is produced from raw milk. You can buy it at the local super market Leclerc. In Meaux you can visit the museum Maison du Brie.

Musee de la Grande Guerre

Just outside Meaux you can visit the museum about the Great War.