name = Rhone
native_name =
other_name =
category =
etymology =
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image_size =
image_caption = View over the Rhone flowing from Valais towards Lake Geneva
country = Switzerland
country1 = France

state =
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district =
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parent =
tributary_left =
tributary_right =
city =
landmark =
source = Rhone Glacier
source_location = | source_region = Valais | source_country = Switzerland
source_elevation =
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mouth = Mediterranean Sea
mouth_location = | mouth_region = | mouth_country = France
mouth_elevation = 0
mouth_lat_d = 43| mouth_lat_m = 19| mouth_lat_s = 51| mouth_lat_NS =N
mouth_long_d = 4| mouth_long_m = 50| mouth_long_s = 44| mouth_long_EW =E
length = 813
width =
depth =
area = 54
discharge = 2300
discharge_max =
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free_type =
free =

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The Rhone, or the Rhône [French "Rhône", Arpitan "Rôno", Occitan "Ròse", standard German "Rhone", Valais German "Rotten")] is one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France.


Before railroads and highways were invented, the Rhone was an important inland trade and transportation route, connecting the cities of Arles, Avignon, Valence, Vienne and Lyon to the Mediterranean ports of Fos, Marseille and Sète. Before this, travelling down the Rhone by barge would take 3 weeks - it now only takes 3 days. The Rhône is classified as a class V waterway [For classification of waterways see http://www.bureauvoorlichtingbinnenvaart.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=25&Itemid=36] from the mouth of the Saône river to the sea. The Saône, which is also canalized, connects the Rhône ports to the cities of Villefranche, Mâcon and Chalons. Smaller vessels (up to CEMT class I) can travel further northwest, north and northeast via the Centre-Loire-Briare and Loing Canals to the Seine river, via the Canal de la Marne à la Saône (recently often called the "Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne") to the Marne, via the Canal des Vosges (formerly called the "Canal de l'Est - Branche Sud") to the Moselle and via the Canal du Rhône au Rhin to the Rhine.

The Rhone is infamous for its strong current when the river carries large quantities of water: current speeds up to 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph) are sometimes reached, particularly in the stretch below the last lock at Valabrègues and in some of the diversion canals. The ten river locks are operated daily from 05:00 a.m. till 09:00 p.m., but night operation can be requested and is usually granted [ [http://www.noordersoft.com/indexen.html NoorderSoft Waterways Database] ] .


It rises as the effluent of the Rhone Glacier in Valais, in the Swiss Alps, at an altitude of convert|1753|m.Fact|date=February 2007

Up to Brig, the Rhone is a torrent, and then becomes a great mountain river running SW through a glacier valley. Then, at Martigny it turns NW towards Lake Geneva (French "Lac Léman"). It enters Lake Geneva near the Swiss town of Bouveret and exits it at the city of Geneva before entering France. The average annual discharge from Lake Geneva is 570 cubic metres per second (20,000 ft3/s) ( [http://www.iucn.org/themes/wani/flow/cases/France.pdf The Rhône River: Hydromorphological and ecological rehabilitation of a heavily man-used hydrosystem] ] .

It is joined by the river Saône at Lyon, before going south. Along the Rhone Valley, it is joined on the right (western) bank by the rivers Eyrieux, Ardèche, Cèze and Gardon coming from the Cévennes mountains, and on the left bank by the rivers Isère, Drôme, Ouvèze and Durance from the Alps.

At Arles, the Rhone divides itself in two arms, forming the Camargue delta, with all branches flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. One arm is called the "Grand Rhône", the other one is the "Petit Rhônet". The average annual discharge at Arles is 2,300 m3/s (81,000 ft3)/s).


The Rhone has been an important highway since the times of the Greeks and Romans, but it was a difficult navigation, suffering from fierce currents, shallows, floods in spring and early summer when the ice was melting and droughts in late summer. Until the 19th century passengers travelled in "coches d'eau" (water coaches) drawn by men or horses or under sail. Most travelled with a painted cross covered with religious symbols as a protection against the hazards of the journey. [H. McKnight. "Cruising French Waterways", Adlard Coles 1991.]

Trade on the upper river used "barques du Rhône", sailing barges, 30 metres by 3.5 metres (100 ft x 10 ft), with a convert|75|t|lb|adj=on capacity. As many as 50 to 80 horses were employed to haul trains of 5 to 7 craft upstream. Goods would be transhipped at Arles into convert|23|m|adj=on sailing barges called "allèges d'Arles" for the final run down to the Mediterranean.

The first experimental steam boat was built at Lyon by Jouffroy d'Abbans in 1783, but regular services were not started until 1829 and continued till 1952. Steam passenger vessels 80 to 100 metres (260–330 ft) long made up to convert|20|km/h and could do the downstream run from Lyon to Arles in a day. Cargo was hauled in "bateau-anguilles", boats 157 metres by 6.35 metres (520 ft x 21 ft) with paddle wheels amidships and "bateaux crabes" where a huge toothed 'claw' wheel convert|6.5|m across which gripped the river bed in the shallows supplemented the paddles wheels.In the 20th century powerful motor barges propelled by diesel engines were introduced, carrying convert|1500|t|lb.

In 1933 the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) was established to tame the river. Some progress in deepening the navigation channel and constructing scouring walls but World War II brought this to a halt. In 1942, following the collapse of Vichy France, Italian military forces occupied southeastern France up to the eastern banks of the Rhône, as part of the Italian Fascist regime's expansionist agenda. In 1948 construction started on a series of locked barrages and canal cuts with the joint aim of improving navigation and generating electricity, with locks raising boats up to convert|23|m. About 1/13 of France's electricity supply is now provided by these power stations.

Origin of the name

The word "Rhone" comes from Latin "Rhodanus", which itself comes from Greek IPA| ("Rhodanos"), which is the Greek rendering of the Gaulish (Celtic) name of the river, as heard by the Greeks living in the colony of "Massalia" (Marseille). The Celtic name of the river, something like "Rodo" or "Roto", literally "that which rolls", or "that which runs", is a frequent name of rivers in the ancient Celtic tongue. It was also the name of the lower Seine River, as well as several other rivers of western Europe. This Celtic name comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *ret- ("to run, roll"), which gave the word "rota" ("wheel") in Latin, from which is derived "rotate" and "to roll" in English. Cognates in modern Celtic languages are Irish "rith" and Welsh "rhedeg", both meaning "to run".

Some scholars posit that the root "rot-" or "rod-" found in the name "Rhone" as well as in the name of many western European rivers, and whose original meaning seems to be "river", is in fact Pre-Indo-European, in which case it would only be a coincidence that it resembles the Proto-Celtic verb "reto" ("to run"). Further research is needed to decide between these two theories.

In French, the adjective derived from the river is "rhodanien", as in "le sillon rhodanien" (literally "the furrow of the Rhone"), which is the name of the long straight Saône and Rhone rivers valley, a deep cleft running due south to the Mediterranean and separating the Alps from the Massif Central.

Along the Rhone

Cities and towns along the Rhone include:


* Oberwald (Valais)
* Brig (Valais)
* Visp (Valais)
* Leuk (Valais)
* Sierre (Valais)
* Sion (Valais)
* Martigny (Valais)
* St. Maurice (Valais)
* see Lake Geneva for a list of Swiss and French towns around the lake
* Geneva (Geneva)


* Lyon, (Rhône (département))
* Vienne (Isère)
* Tournon-sur-Rhône (Ardèche) opposite Tain-l'Hermitage (Drôme)
* Valence (Drôme) opposite Saint-Péray and Guilherand-Granges (Ardèche)
* Montélimar (Drôme) opposite Le Teil and Rochemaure (Ardèche)
* Viviers (Ardèche)
* Bourg-Saint-Andéol (Ardèche)
* Pont-Saint-Esprit (Gard)
* Roquemaure (Gard)
* Avignon (Vaucluse) (opposite Villeneuve-lès-Avignon) (Gard)
* Beaucaire (Gard) opposite Tarascon (Bouches-du-Rhône)
* Vallabrègues (Gard)
* Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône)

ee also

* Rhône (département)
* Rhône (wine region)

References and notes

External links

* [http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/DF_waterways.shtml Waterways in France]
* [http://www.cnr.tm.fr/gb/index.htm CNR]

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