The Saône is a river in eastern France, the main tributary of the right bank of the Rhône.

With a length of nearly 480 kilometers, it is the ninth longest river in France.

The river crosses 3 regions: Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne – Rhone – Alpes.

The Saône has its source in Vioménil at the foot of Ménamont, south of the Faucilles mountains (Vosges department, Grand Est region), at 405 m altitude. It confluences with the Rhône at Lyon (Rhône department, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region), at an altitude of 163 meters after crossing the Saône valley.

Its largest tributary is the Doubs; upstream of receiving the Doubs at Verdun-sur-le-Doubs in Saône-et-Loire, the Saône is called the “Petite Saône” (lesser Saône), which reflects the large contribution of the Doubs to the Saône.

Departments and cities traversed by the Saône

  • Vosges: Darney, Monthureux-sur-Saône, Châtillon-sur-Saône
  • Haute-Saône: Jonvelle, Corre, Jussey, Port-sur-Saône, Scey-sur-Saône, Gray
  • Côte-d’Or: Auxonne, Saint-Jean-de-Losne, Seurre
  • Saône-et-Loire: Verdun-sur-le-Doubs, Chalon-sur-Saône, Tournus, Mâcon, Crêches-sur-Saône
  • Ain: Thoissey, Montmerle-sur-Saône, Jassans-Riottier, Trévoux
  • Rhône: Belleville-sur-Saône, Villefranche-sur-Saône, Anse, Neuville-sur-Saône, Fontaines-sur-Saône, Caluire-et-Cuire, Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, Lyon.

The Saône is navigable from its confluence with the Coney at Corre in the north of the département Haute-Saône all the way to its confluence with the Rhône (itself a navigable river) at La Mulatière, in Lyon. The navigable stretch is 367 kilometres (228 mi) long, of which 206 kilometres (128 mi) has been redeveloped to European high-capacity dimensions from Saint-Symphorien-sur-Saône to Lyon. It has 5 locks. The 161 km long part upstream from Saint-Symphorien-sur-Saône to Corre, also named Petite Saône, is navigable for Freycinet gauge ships and has 19 locks.

The Saône is linked with the Loire by the Canal du Centre, with the Yonne by the Canal de Bourgogne, with the Marne by the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne (previously the Canal de la Marne à la Saône), with the Meuse by the Canal de l’Est, whose southern branch has been renamed the Canal des Vosges, and with the Rhine by the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. All the canals are Freycinet gauge.

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