Aa (river, France)
The Aa at Merck-Saint-Liévin
|Length||89 km (55 mi)|
|Avg. discharge||10 m3/s (350 cu ft/s)|
|Basin area||1,215 km2 (469 sq mi)|
The river's geography can be divided into two styles. First, from its source, in the Artois Hills, to Saint-Omer, it is a small chalk stream, a small version of the Somme. Second, from Saint-Omer seawards, approximately 29 kilometres (18 mi), it is a navigable waterway with branch canals leading towards Calais and Dunkirk and the Canal de Neufossé heading inland into the French canal system.
Saint-Omer formerly lay at the head of its estuary while to seaward; Calais lay on its western margin and Bergues, now inland from Dunkirk, on its eastern one. By the time of the Viking settlements on this coast, Dunkirk was developing on the dunes, offshore across the estuarine marsh from Bergues. Gravelines was the later port at the seaward end of the river as it became, after the area of the estuary was reclaimed. The dates of these events are imprecise but the modern pattern was firmly established by 1588, the time of the Spanish Armada, when an approximation to the modern course of the lowland river formed the boundary between the Spanish Netherlands and France.
The river suffers significant problems from industrial discharge.
- Aa guide Navigation on the canal, including Gravelines as an entry port into the French waterways network.
- The Aa at the Sandre database
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