Scarpe (river)

Douai - Scarpe et clocher de la collégiale Saint-Pierre.JPG
The Scarpe at Douai
Physical characteristics
 • locationPas-de-Calais
 • elevation101 m (331 ft)
 • location
 • coordinates
50°29′59″N 3°26′49″E / 50.49972°N 3.44694°E / 50.49972; 3.44694 (Scheldt-Scarpe)Coordinates: 50°29′59″N 3°26′49″E / 50.49972°N 3.44694°E / 50.49972; 3.44694 (Scheldt-Scarpe)
Length94 km (58 mi)
Basin size1,322 km2 (510 sq mi)
Basin features
ProgressionScheldtNorth Sea
Official nameVallées de la Scarpe et de l'Escaut
Designated2 February 2020
Reference no.2405[1]

The Scarpe is a river in the Hauts-de-France region of France. It is a left-bank tributary of the river Escaut (Scheldt). It is 94 km (58 mi) long.[2][3] The source of the river is at Berles-Monchel near Aubigny-en-Artois. It flows through the towns of Arras, Douai and Saint-Amand-les-Eaux. The river ends at Mortagne-du-Nord where it flows into the Scheldt. Scarpe Mountain in Alberta, Canada, was named after the river. The navigable waterway and its coal barges also feature in the novels by 19th century author Émile Zola.


River Scarpe location
River Scarpe and connecting waterways (not showing the non-navigable stream west from Arras)

The river was made navigable by weirs and locks over about two thirds of its length (67 km (42 mi)),[3] divided into the Upper Scarpe (Scarpe supérieure, 23 km, 9 locks) from Arras to Courchelettes,[4] the Middle Scarpe through Douai, and the Lower Scarpe (Scarpe inférieure, 36 km, 6 locks) from Douai to the Escaut.[5][6] The Middle Scarpe is no longer navigable, bypassed by the high-capacity Canal Dunkerque-Escaut.


This river was navigated from the Escaut up to Douai as early as 638, but improvements with flash locks were required to give access to the important town of Arras, reached in 1613. This remained a shallow navigation, with locks of varying width and length, until it was improved to the Becquey gauge in the 1840s. The enlargement to Freycinet gauge was completed by about 1890. Today the Lower Scarpe is closed from the Douai junction to Saint-Amand-les-Eaux pending dredging and identification of a new owner and operator.

The river and its valley were important battlegrounds in the First World War. The valley of the Scarpe has been designated as a protected Ramsar site since 2020.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Vallées de la Scarpe et de l'Escaut". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ Sandre. "Fiche cours d'eau - Rivière Scarpe (E2010600)".
  3. ^ a b Sandre. "Fiche cours d'eau - La Scarpe Canalisée (E2--0110)".
  4. ^ Fluviacarte, Scarpe supérieure
  5. ^ Fluviacarte, Scarpe inférieure
  6. ^ Edwards-May, David (2010). Inland Waterways of France. St Ives, Cambs., UK: Imray. pp. 263–266. ISBN 978-1-846230-14-1.

External links

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