On all the boards
Welcome to the Burgundy Canal!

My name is Léa and I am a seasonal lock-keeper!
Take a look at my logbook and come along with me for a canal adventure the whole of its 242-kilometre length. It’s a real masterpiece of civil engineering as well as one of the loveliest ways to get from the Channel to the Mediterranean!
Meet me at every noticeboard by the canal. Have a great time exploring!

The canal landscape:before and after

From the plain of Migennes to the Saône plain, through the Ouche valley to the Armançon valley, the canal traces its path through a country landscape, with many castles and churches.

A landscape unchanged for centuries? Don’t be so sure of it!

Before: there was a traditional heritage related to human activity.

Laundries and mills on millstreams alongside the canal

Farms and post-houses

A few factories, tilemakers and forges enlivened the neighbourhood (Veuvey-sur-Ouche, Buffon, Aisy, Grignon)

After the construction of the canal: everything changed!

A remarkable industrial boom

Creation of transport routes: roads and railways

Today, by the canal
Léa meets Guy, an ornithologist at the French League for the Protection of Birds

Hello, young lady, delighted to meet you! I am on my way to the bird reserve, would you like to come with me? The reserve owes its existence to the construction of the TGV railway line; when it was dug out a pond formed and the birds arrived! The League for the Protection of Birds has owned it since 1995. We manage the reserve and are redesigning it; part of the pond will soon be replaced by wetland habitat. But you will still be able to admire the birds without being seen. Some, like the kingfisher, are resident, but others, like the cormorant and snipe, are winter visitors. It you’d like to know more, there are information boards along the path. Right. Let’s go!

Pontigny Abbey

Your first sight of the abbey takes your breath away! With an area of 4000 m2 and 120 metres long, Pontigny Abbey is the biggest Cistercian church in the world. It was built in 1114 by monks from Cîteaux, the majesty of its architecture contrasting with the great simplicity of the interior. The lack of decoration on the limestone enhances the play of light and shadow to encourage contemplation.

Beauvais Farm at Venouse

Built by the monks of Pontigny in 1237, this agricultural estate supplied the abbey with food. The estate was run by the lay brothers up to the fourteenth century, then by farmers up to the Revolution. In 1995, the farm was reborn, thanks to a charitable association, which restored the buildings and their surroundings and brought the site back to life. The Cistercian Farm has become a place of shared resources, open to all.

The bird sanctuary

The sanctuary has a great diversity of natural environments over an area of 25 hectares. It’s a real paradise for a multitude of birds! Some are resident like the kingfisher, living here all year round, while others are migratory, like the osprey, and only come for a visit. A discovery trail offers explanatory notice boards and two hides where you can admire the birds without being seen.


1724 A canal project is agreed after much deliberation concerning the route

1775 Work begins on both banks

1826-1832 Pouilly tunnel is dug out

1833 The whole canal is opened to traffic

1872-1882 Standardised to Freycinet gauge (lengthening of the lock chambers)

Nineteenth century The industrial boom

Twentieth century Gradual transition from industry and commerce to tourism and leisure

2010 Creation of the cycle path

Nowadays you can travel on the water for pleasure or enjoy cycling along the cycle path that follows the old towpath. It’s an ideal opportunity to discover the wealth of our heritage as you explore!