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The Savières Canal 

Four kilometres long, the canal serves as a natural reservoir for water from the Lac du Bourget to the Rhône and vice versa when the river is in flood. Over the years, it has been enlarged, rectified and rehabilitated to facilitate commercial and passenger navigation, as it was an important trade route until the last century. 

It was thanks to the canal that great personalities such as Julius Caesar, Pope Innocent IV, Alexander de Medici, Charles Emmanuel I, the Count of Provence, the future King Louis XVIII, Victor Amédée III and Napoleon III were able to travel from Savoy to France. A great deal of merchandise from the East was loaded at Le Bourget onto barges which passed through Chanaz, up the Rhône to Seyssel where they were awaited by carts for transport to Geneva. These boats were loaded with salt, sheets, haberdashery and other items, and had to pay a toll at the entrance to the canal.

On 17 August 1838, a steamboat from Lyon crossed the narrow passes of the Canal de Savières for the first time. This was an enormous step forward in the speed of communications. In the following years, new shipping companies were established in the region. By 1855, four steamers were operating daily to transport passengers and goods from Aix-en-Savoie to Lyon, serving the entire coastline.

Chanaz has been the head of navigation on the Rhône and the Canal since the Middle Ages. Its activity is attested by the Periodic Revenue Accounts since 1926. Today the Canal de Savières is a privileged site for its setting, its fauna and flora, and a large number of visitors go upstream to join the Lake or the Rhône.

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