River Categories


Categorisation of rivers for canoeing, kayaking, rough water swimming, and rafting and canoraft.


(Annexe 1 to the Safety Decree of 4 May 1995)

Class 1 – Easy

(easy passage)

Class II – Medium Difficulty

(easy passage)

Class III – Difficult

(easy passage)

Regular flow, regular waves, smaller eddies.

Simple obstacles.

Irregular river course, rough rapid water, larger currents, some turbulence and rapids.

Simple obstacles in the flow, small fall.

High and irregular waves, large swirling eddies, strong turbulence and difficult rapids.

Blocks of rock, little chutes, diverse obstacles in the flow.

Class IV – Very Difficult.

(the river passage is not visible in advance, a survey is generally necessary)

Class 5 – Extremely Difficult.

(A survey is always necessary)

Class VI – Limited navigability

(generally impossible)

Huge continuous rapid waves, fast and powerful.

Rocks obstructing the flow, higher chutes with tow backs.

Waves, whirlpools, extreme rapids.

Narrow passages, very high chutes with difficult entry and exit.

Possibly navigable if not always in the water. High risk.

Narrow passages, very high chutes with difficult entry and exit.


This classification does not include all the following river routes:

- the embankment which are sometimes easily crossed and sometimes very dangerous;

- the canals, the small rivers on the plain, the navigable rivers with slow and rapid flows, that present obstacles such as diverse embankment, breakwaters, buoys, low bridges, pasture areas, waves caused by winds or boats, whirlpools behind bridge pillars;

- Quiet lakes.