Locks on the Rhône and Saône

These locks are massive and can appear quite formidable when approaching. In effect they are quite easy to use. It is as well to radio ahead and warn the lock keeper that you wish to use the lock and say whether you are passing downstream or upstream (avalant or montant); this will save time. You will find the number of the radio channel printed in the Guide Book You should not be kept waiting more than 30 minutes but you should be prepared for this as commercial traffic has precedence.

Pleasure boats can use the lock at the same time as the commercial traffic. If you need to wait you will see a small pontoon near to the lock gates (you need to hold your nerve). This pontoon has a ‘No Parking’ sign on it but underneath is a small notice, in French, saying that it is reserved for pleasure boats (plaisanciers) using the lock.

Once inside the lock you will find floating bollards set into the wall. They are too far apart for you to attach each line to a separate bollard so choose one bollard and attach both lines. Once attached you just need to attend the lines to prevent the boat from ‘pivoting’ too much, and you will go up or down with the water.

Leave the lock when the light is green. If the light remains red do not attempt to leave the lock even though the gates are open.

Whilst many lock keepers have some English, if you can speak a few French words it will help enormously so that you can radio ahead and save time.

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