The Seine runs through it

The Chatou dam

78400 Chatou

  • Company open to the public
Visite guidée du barrage de Chatou

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The largest flap dam in France! It is on the Ile des Impressionnistes, on the Seine downstream in the department of Yvelines, that the grandiose dam of Chatou is located, built between 2009 and 2013.

Scattered with history, the site testifies in particular to the arrival of canoeing, one of the first modern leisure activities on the water.

Around 1860, the Fournaise house, a guinguette located on the island, was converted into a boat rental company and launched the canoeing trend. From then on, Parisians were attracted by this novelty, especially artists.

Guy de Maupassant described the establishment as a “phalanstery of boaters” and Auguste Renoir, who painted Le Déjeuner des boaters, said to a friend: “I came back to Chatou because of my painting. You will be very kind to come and have lunch. You will not regret your trip, it is the prettiest place around Paris”.

The House closed at the beginning of the 20th century, but the municipality acquired it in 1979 and registered it in the supplementary inventory of historical monuments 3 years later. It now houses a restaurant and a museum with its collections on the history of the site and canoeing.

It was in 1933 that the first dam was built and put into service in Chatou to regulate the waterway, that is to say about thirty years after the closure of the Maison Fournaise. Dilapidated and difficult to maneuver, it was demolished 80 years later and replaced by a new automated model which ensures more efficient regulation of the water body, especially during floods.

By its impressive dimensions, and its landscape integration in a classified site (Island of the Impressionists) thanks to the assistance of the architect Luc Weizmann and by the technicality of the various construction processes, the dam of Chatou is today an example in the public works and civil engineering sector.

It is the largest flap dam in France – each flap weighing almost 170 tonnes. It maintains the level of the Seine for 32km up to the Suresnes dam (92) and nearly 9 million tonnes of goods pass through its lock each year. The site consists of a dam surmounted by a footbridge, a fishway, a lock and a control room. In terms of heritage, some equipment from the old dam has been preserved and displayed on the left bank.

It is possible to visit it via the Tourist Office in collaboration with VNF and in particular during the European Heritage Days.

Waterways of France Seine and Loire downstream basin manages 1,400 km of waterways, including nearly 450 km of wide-gauge waterways, in the Seine and Loire downstream basins (between Nantes and Bouchemaine) . This network is made up of 800 km of rivers (Seine, Marne, Oise, Loire) and 600 km of canals (Canal du Nord, Picardie and Champagne-Ardenne canals).


How to get there?

The Seine runs through it

Barrage de Chatou, 3 quai Wattier

78400 Chatou

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