The Canal de Briare is located is 57 km long and counts 38 locks. It flows from the river Loire to the Canal du Loing.
The construction of the Canal du Briare was started by Maximilien Béthune and with the support of Henry IV. The canal would improve grain trade and thus reduce the food shortage. It was dug between the basins of the Loire and Seine. The Canal de Briare is the oldest canal in France.
In 1604 work began. Hugues Cosnier led the construction of the canal. Cosnier had managed to get to the first contract to build a channel that would overcome a watershed. During the following years around six to twelve thousand men worked on the channel to make this possible.
In 1611 Cosnier needed to cease work because of the murder on Henry IV. 27 years later, however, the work resumed. This time led by Guillaume Boutheroue and Jacques Guyon and with the approval of Louis XIII. They started the “Compagnie des Seigneurs du canal Loyre and the Seine” together with other nobels and completed work in 1642. There were also several ponds dug to provide the channel with enough water. The most impressive part of the canal are the locks of Rogny 7. These are now no longer in use and they are no longer connected to the channel, but they are still in their original position and are definitely worth a visit.
Around 1750 the canal was navigated by cargo ships transporting timber, coal, iron, pottery and fruit. But the most transported product was wine from Mcon, Beaujolais, Sancerre and Languedoc.
The state got back control over the channel in 1860 and constructed a pump station in 1895 that would provide the channel additional water during periods of drought. The canal was often closed 2 or 3 months because of water shortage in the Loire Valley.
However, five years earlier an even larger project started. The Biare Aquaduct would connect the channel to the Canal latral la Loire. The aquaduct was completed six years later, by Abel Mazoyer.