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 Latest news 

6 July 2009
"Blue Days" in September !
A great family event will take place on the week-end of 19-20 September 2009, to celebrate the return of boats to the Roubaix-Espierres Canals.
Read the article ...

19 December 2008
Canal festival and rally in 2009!
A major European canal rendez-vous has now been fixed. For the week-end of 19-20 September 2009, the canalised river Marque, the Roubaix and Espierres Canals will be re-opened to navigation. The long-awaited return of boats will be celebrated from one end to the other of the DeŻle-Scheldt link.
Read the article ...

4 November 2008
Lecture on industrial navigation
On Friday 28 November 2008, 8:00 PM, in Maison du Canal at Leers-Nord, Bernard LE SUEUR, Blue Links expert, will give a conference "Espierres and the others, assets of industrial navigation".
(6 rue du Canal 7730 Leers-Nord, Belgium, near the lock)

Free entrance. Informations and reservations : Agence de Développement Local : tel (+32) 56 48 13 77

10 October 2008
A new canal age in Europe
A wind of change is blowing throughout Europe, breathing new life into canals that remained out of the public eye for decades: filled in, made over to other uses or abandoned to the forces of nature. North-West Europe has been showing the way for 25 years. Today, the message on the benefits of restoring historic canals is spreading throughout the planning zones of the EU and beyond, into Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
Read the article ...

6 June 2008
Dredging pontoons on the home straight!
Josť Dewulf, dredging pontoon skipper on the Roubaix Canal and the canalised river Marque, will soon have finished his extraordinary nautical ballet for Blue Links. By 4 July, he and his colleagues will have removed 70,000 m3 of sediment from the canalised river Marque and transferred the spoil to the disposal area at Wattrelos. Read our interview with the contractor Ghent Dredging.
Read the article ...

3 March 2008
Pump up the volume!
Onlookers along the canal will have noticed that the locks are being drained one by one. This is necessary to carry out the works on the water supply system. VNF, MET and their contractors have to empty the locks to bury the pumping stations and their suction pipes. The canal's water supply will be ensured by a pumping station at each lock.
Read the article ...

5 February 2008
12 movable bridges - 12 challenges!
Recreational navigation on Europeís rivers and canals is an adventure marked by countless events, in which the waterwayís structures themselves play a key role. Lift-bridges have a unique appeal, and have been painted by many artists. There is something incomparably graceful in the movements of the bridge decks which rise, swing or slide to let boats pass through. Update on the restoration of these structures.
Read the article ...

17 January 2008
Union bridge swings again!
The Fontenoy swing-bridge in Roubaix had its deck refitted this Monday 14 January 2008, marking a new stage in the canalís restoration.
Read the article ...

3 January 2008
Filter basins top up supply
As a man-made canal, the Canal de Roubaix has to be regularly supplied with water. Since it was opened in 1877, the canal has been supplied with water from the river DeŻle by a pumping station in Lille. This system is now life-expired. The pumping equipment itself is antiquated, the flow of the river DeŻle is inadequate during the summer months, and the water quality itself is below the required standard. The Blue Links partners therefore had to find an alternative solution to supply the canal with water.
Read the article ...

...See the news archive

Blue Links, a leading EU-funded project for sustainable canal restoration

The restored canal from the Deûle to the Escaut will be a significant resource for tourism and leisure activities, associated with urban regeneration over a vast area.

The Blue Links project is a programme of works aiming to restore navigation on the Deûle - Escaut link. The Deûle - Escaut link is the canalised river Marque plus the Roubaix canal, in the North 'région' of France and the Espierre canal, in Hainaut and West Flanders in Belgium.

This comprehensive renovation programme is made possible by the mobilisation of the European Commission and various local authorities and public bodies in France and Belgium...
> read more

Blue Days 2009 event booking

Boat owners wishing to take part in the Blue Days rally and celebration on the week-end of September 18-20, 2009, may now register using the on-line registration form, giving all necessary details. Since the canal will be temporarily opened to stage the event, only registered boats will be accepted, and the organisers may have to limit the number. Early registration is therefore recommended. The form is to be filled in for all boats navigating on the canal, whether mooring for the event or taking part in one of the flotillas.

The main rally site will also have ample space for exhibition stands. Prospective exhibitors - local authorities, tourism agencies, boat builders and hirers, associations - and all service providers may also use this form, indicating arrival on a trailer and no craneage required. By definition, that means you will be part of the exhibition, and will be registered as such. Alternatively, contact the coordinator via the webmaster.

Inscription ťvťnement 2009

Boat owners will click on the larger-scale map within the form, to select their preferred mooring for the event - at the main rally site or at one of the other moorings along the canal.

 Inaugural event in September 2009!

At their steering committee meeting on 24 October 2008, the Blue Links partners decided to organise a major event to inaugurate the canal on the week-end of 19/20 September 2009. By that date, the underpass below the Couteaux roundabout will have been completed, or at least works will have progressed to a stage allowing the canal to be reopened.

The canal will be opened at least one week before the event, to give boats taking part time to reach one of the designated mooring points. Procedures for registering to participate in the event will soon be published on this site.



Critical to completion of the project was the dredging and disposal of almost 200 000 m3 of sediment…

Le canal de Roubaix envasé
Silted Roubaix canal

> read more

Works update 

Works in progress

Cleaning and repairing Estaimpuis lock in depth, on the Espierres canal

Cleaning and repairing Estaimpuis lock,
on the Espierres canal

> read more

 Opinions and ideas 

Read comments and ideas from our visitors and from users of canals, and give your own advice and opinion for the Blue Links project.

> go there




Maps of the Roubaix canal, the Espierre canal and the canalised river Marque


The Deûle-Escaut waterway is a key link in the centre of the 20 000 km network of inland waterways of North West Europe.

Press conference on October 10, 2008

Grimonpont lift bridge

The communes of Estaimpuis, Leers and Wattrelos hosted on 10 October 2008 a press conference which attracted about 50 people, including journalists from the local and national Press and TV. The event was organised to show the extent of the works completed since the Blue Links project started in 2005. In reality, many of the works could not begin until 2007 or even 2008, because of the highly complex procedures for the studies, administrative procedures and subsequent tendering. Welcomed at the Maison du Canal in Estaimpuis, the partners each presented their components of the project to about 15 journalists, before walking along the towpath to visit two key sites close to the border: the new Grimonpont lift bridge and the filter basins. Slimane Tir, vice-president of Lille Métropole in charge of the metropolitan parks department, took a small boat generously made available by the MET's depot in Comines, to be interviewed en route by France 3.

> see the pictures of the press release


Context gives regular updates on works in progress on the link, leading up to the inauguration in 2008.
>plans for the inaugural event

The movement to restore the canals abandoned by commercial traffic began in the UK 60 years ago. Now, in major metropolitan areas, canal restoration for leisure and tourism has become a key issue for mobility as well as for urban regeneration...
> read more

Locks on the Roubaix canal



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Site managed by Lille Metropolitan Council for the project partners:
Voies Navigables de France, Wallonian Ministry of Public Works, Nord-Pas de Calais Conseil Régional, Conseil Général du Nord, Préfecture du Nord-Pas de Calais and Artois-Picardie Water Agency