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Garonne Cruises

About the Garonne River

The Garonne River runs for 357 miles through southwestern France and northern Spain. From its headwaters in the Pyrenees, it follows the Aran Valley northward into France, flowing through Toulouse on its way to Bordeaux, where it meets the Gironde estuary—which flows into the Atlantic Ocean at the Bay of Biscay. In spite of the presence of some 50 locks, the Garonne is one of the few rivers in Europe that exhibit a tidal bore, a phenomenon by which a wave of water can flow back upriver. (The nearby Dordogne also has a tidal bore.) Towns along the Garonne include Toulouse, Bordeaux and Blaye.

The name “Garonne” comes from the Latin Garumna, a transliteration of the river’s ancient name. This native name derives from the Aquitanian (a language related to old Basque) word kar, meaning “rock,” and from a Celtic (or older) suffix -onna which means “source, river,” and which is hidden in the names of many rivers of western Europe (such as France’s Seine, Saône and Dordogne Rivers).