Garonne River Information

The Garonne is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of 575km (360 miles).

The French departments Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne get their name from the Garonne river.

Garonne River Geography

The river rises on the slopes of Pic Aneto and flows by way of a sink hole known as the Trou de Toro or the Forau dels Aigualluts through the limestone of the Tuca Blanco de Pomèro and a resurgence in the Val dera Artiga above the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees. It is only in 1931 that the fact that the Garonne river disappears on one side of the mountain only to reappear on the other was proved.

The Garonne river follows the Aran Valley northwards into France, flowing via Toulouse and Agen towards Bordeaux, where it meets the Gironde estuary. The Gironde flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Along its course, the Garonne river finally meets the Dordogne River, after which the two rivers become the Gironde estuary which about 60 miles later joins the Atlantic Ocean.

The Garonne river is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibits a tidal bore where surfers and jet skiers often gather to ride the waves, around the village of Cambes and a bit further upstream.

Garonne River Navigation

The Garonne river has an important part in inland shipping. The Garonne river allows vessels coming from the ocean to reach the port of Bordeaux, and it also forms part of the Canal des Deux Mers, linking the mediterranean sea to the Bay of Biscay thus allowing a shorter and safer way for goods to pass from the agricultural areas of the south of France to the Atlantic.

When coming from the Atlantic Ocean, boats and ships go through the Gironde estuary until the beginning of the Garonne. Then the Garonne river remains navigable for rather large boats until the Pont de Pierre in Bordeaux, at which point they can not go any further. Smaller ships can then go on and navigate all the way up to the Midi Canal.

The Garonne Canal has been restructured to a standard size as it originally was too small. It has lead to one of the greatest infrastructure work in Europe during the last century. It has been adapted to allow barges of up to 38 by 5 meters to navigate on it. Almost all the locks had to be changed and adapted to that standardized size which represented an enormous amount of work.