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The Durance in the Vaucluse department

The Durance in the Vaucluse department

Water code FRX --- 0000
location France , Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region
River system Rhône
Drain over Rhône  → Mediterranean
source in the municipality of Montgenèvre
44 ° 53 ′ 37 ″  N , 6 ° 43 ′ 17 ″  E
Source height about  2325  m
muzzle just south of Avignon in the Rhone coordinates: 43 ° 55 '22 "  N , 4 ° 44' 37"  E 43 ° 55 '22 "  N , 4 ° 44' 37"  E
Mouth height 20  m
Height difference about 2305 m
Bottom slope about 7.1 ‰
length 323 km
Catchment area 14,342 km²
Reservoirs flowed through Lac de Serre-Ponçon
Big cities Avignon
Medium-sized cities Manosque , Cavaillon
Small towns Briançon , Embrun , Sisteron , Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban , Pertuis , Mallemort , Châteaurenard
Headwaters of the Durance on the Sommet des Anges
Pont d'Asfeld bridge over the Durance near Briançon

The Durance ( Occitan / Provencal Durença or Durènço ), mostly named Druentia by Latin writers, is a river in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in south-east France . It is created by the confluence of several source streams in a basin of Mont Chenaillet (2650 m), in the municipality of Montgenèvre , near the Italian border. The Durance generally drains south-west and flows into the Rhone after 323 kilometers just south of Avignon as a left tributary . Its upper reaches form the border between the Cottian Alps in the east and the Dauphiné Alps in the west.


In the upper reaches, the Durance has been dammed to Lac de Serre-Ponçon , the largest artificial lake in France, since 1961 . Because of its uneven water flow with sometimes devastating floods, it was considered one of the scourges of Provence until the reservoirs were opened . It is also dammed several times below the reservoir, the water is diverted through non-navigable canals, for example the Canal de Carpentras , for energy generation and irrigation of the numerous orchards. Particularly striking is a canal of the Électricité de France (EDF), which branches off from the river below Lac de Serre-Ponçon, accompanies it at alternating distances from power plant to power plant and only branches off to the south at Mallemort , about 30 kilometers from its mouth flows into the Étang de Berre . The approximately 80 kilometers long Canal de Marseille is the main source of drinking water in the city of Marseille .

Crossed departments


Left tributaries:

Right tributaries:




Between Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône:

Railway viaduct at Cavaillon

water sports

Above the reservoir, the Durance has become a very popular destination for whitewater sports enthusiasts ( rafting , whitewater paddling ), as the water flow is practically sufficient all year round. Because of the relatively moderate difficulty, the section between L'Argentière-la-Bessée and Embrun is preferred. The only serious obstacle to be overcome there is the Rabioux . Upstream at St. Clement there is an artificial whitewater facility in the river bed of the Durance with moderate difficulty. At L'Argentière-la-Bessée, a challenging course for canoe slalom with a training center was built into the river. Further above, the Durance breaks through a gorge in the high range of the white water difficulty scale . A section above this gorge with a lower level of difficulty, which begins at Briançon and ends at the weir in Prelles , is also frequently skied . Above Briançon, the Durance has a high to extremely difficult level of difficulty, the most difficult and best-known part of which is the Malafosse Passage . The final small gorge in Briançon is rarely skied despite the medium level of difficulty.

In addition to the Durance, the tributaries Ubaye , Guil , Gyronde , Guisane and Clarée, which flow into this area , are very popular. They are torrents with sometimes extreme degrees of difficulty on the white water scale . Shortly before the confluence with the reservoir in Embrun there was a popular training and competition site (La Clapiere) for freestyle and playboating , which was not as difficult as the Rabioux, but was still well received.

Natural landscape

The Durance crosses an abundance of natural landscapes, even if the valley floor itself is mostly characterized by larger cities, traffic structures and industrial settlements. The river runs in the upper reaches between the Écrins National Park and the Queyras Regional Nature Park . In the lower reaches to form in parts of the boundary line for Verdon Regional Park , to Luberon Regional Park and Regional Park Alpilles .

See also

Web links

Commons : Durance  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b geoportail.fr (1: 16,000)
  2. a b c The information on the length of the river is based on the information on the Durance from SANDRE (French), accessed on June 17, 2011, rounded to full kilometers.