Le Cher, Son Histoire
©Sud Val de Loire

The Cher's history

368 kilometres long, the Cher rises in Merinchal (Creuse), in the Massif Central, and joins the Loire in Villandry (Indre et Loire). It is the Loire’s second largest tributary after the Allier.

Natural border

Majestic monuments are found all along the Cher: Noirlac Abbey, the Château de Meillant, the château de Chenonceau, the château de Villandry…  It is a natural border between the Creuse, Puy de Dôme, Allier, Cher, Indre, Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire departments.

The Cher enters the Loir-et-Cher department in Mennetou-sur-Cher, before continuing on to Romorantin, capital of Sologne, Selles-sur-Cher, Saint-Aignan and Montrichard.

Wild from Montluçon to Noyers-sur-Cher, then navigable or canalized as far as Tours, the Cher passes through 117 towns and villages.

A privileged trade route

After being one of the strategic military routes in Antiquity, the Cher became a privileged trade route. The communities along the river prospered by using it to transport all kinds of goods (wine, slate…)

The water service planned to link the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean by a network of waterways. Starting in 1807, construction work began on the Canal du Berry, which was completed in 1839, and then a third section was commissioned, which ended at Noyers-sur-Cher.

At the same time, the bed of the Cher was being made navigable between Saint-Aignan and Tours, avoiding the cost of a lateral canal. 16 dams with locks were built between 1836 and 1837.

Navigation on the Cher was developed in the 18th century at the same time as the Loire. At that time, a branch of the Cher joined the Loire in Tours, making access to the river easier.

At the end of the 19th century, navigation on the Cher was at its peak. Nearly a million boats were used to transport Cher wine to the Haute-Loire, bring salt from Nantes and slate from Angers. The harbour in Noyers-sur-Cher didn’t stop working at the time.

After the Second World War, road and rail transportation took over. Actually, the construction of the railway in 1869 had already severely reduced traffic on the Cher.