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The Garonne (antic Garumna; Oc Garona /garun) is a river in southwest France, with a length of 575 km (357 miles).

The name "Garonne", Garumna in the Antiquity, is a native name still meaning 'river' in Gascon.

It derives from the Aquitanian (language related to old Basque) word *kharr-, meaning "rock", akin to modern Basque harri, "stone", and

from a Pre-Indo-European suffix -unn-, -onna which means "source, river", and which can be found in the name of many rivers of western Europe (such as the Seine, the Saône, etc.).

The Garonne River in the SW of France


The river rises in the Val d'Aran (Spanish Pyrenees), flowing via Toulouse towards Bordeaux, where it flows into the Gironde estuary. The Gironde Estuary flows into the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay).

The Garonne River Basin in France

In its flow, the Garonne is joined by three other major rivers: the Ariège, the Tarn, the Lot. Just after Bordeaux, the Garonne river finally meets the Dordogne, after which the two rivers become the Gironde estuary which after approximately 60 miles joins the Atlantic Ocean. Other tributaries include the Save and the Gers.

The Garonne is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore. Surf boarders, Jet Skiers, etc. can ride the tidal bore as least as far as the village of Cambes (70 miles from the Atlantic) and even further upstream.

Origin Pyrenees
Mouth Gironde estuary,
Atlantic Ocean
Basin countries France, Spain
Length 575 km
Source elevation 1,872 m
Basin area 84,811 km² *
*including Dordogne

Towns along the river

Val d'Aran (Spain): Vielha
Haute-Garonne: Saint-Gaudens, Muret, Toulouse
Tarn-et-Garonne: Castelsarrasin
Lot-et-Garonne: Agen, Marmande
Gironde (33) : Langon, Bordeaux, Blaye, Le Verdon-sur-Mer
Charente-Maritime: Royan

Main tributaries

Following the flow of the river:

  • Pique

  • Ourse

  • Neste

  • Salat

  • Volp

  • Arize

  • Louge

  • Ariège

  • Touch

  • Save

  • Gimone

  • Hers-Mort

  • Tarn

  • Arrats

  • Gers

  • Baïse

  • Lot

  • Dropt

  • Ciron

  • Gat mort

  • Devèze

  • Jalle de Blanquefort


The Garonne plays an important role in inland shipping. The river not only allows seagoing vessels to reach the port of Bordeaux but also forms part of the "Canal des Deux Mers", the canal that links the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay), allowing a shorter and safer way for goods to pass from the agricultural areas of the South of France to the Atlantic.

From the Ocean, ships pass through the Gironde estuary until the mouth of the Gironde, the left of the two rivers for those who sail upstream. The Garonne remains navigable for larger vessels up to the "Pont de Pierre" (Stone Bridge) in Bordeaux.

River vessels can sail upstream to Castets-en-Dorthe, where the Garonne Lateral Canal (Canal Latéral à la Garonne) joins the river. The lateral canal takes the ships through 53 locks to the town of Toulouse, where the canal meets the Canal du Midi, with which its form the "Canal des Deux Mers".

The Garonne Lateral Canal was subject to one of the largest infrastructure works in Europe, when it was adapted to the standardized barge size of 38 by 5 meters, during the last century.

French minister Freycinet ordered that all canals with importance for long distance transport be suitable for vessels of those standard dimensions. The extension of ALL the former 30 meter locks to the new standard length was carried out throughout the lateral canal.

The other half of the Canal des Deux Mers, the Canal du Midi, partly escaped this operation, because by the time the works had reached the area where the most locks were situated, commercial traffic on the canal had almost disappeared. The works were stopped, leading to the cultural heritage status of the United Nations that has made the Canal du Midi famous.

Credits : This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Garonne River".


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