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 stirs everything up

The construction of this waterway greatly altered the appearance of our towns and villages. What a lot of activity there was! Bargemen, lock-keepers, artisans, tradesmen, farmers and workmen all brought the canal to life.

The nineteenth century rocked by the industrial boom

With the water of the canal, it was full steam ahead!

Hydraulic power and the transport of goods

Establishment of factories, cement works, forges, warehouses

Workers arrive in great numbers

There is much activity on the quaysides of the ports, at Saint-Jean-de-Losne, Pouilly-en Auxois, Montbard. People are loading and unloading wood, oil, laminated iron, cement, lime, Burgundy stone, wine, sugar beet, cereals.

Businesses used the canal as a way of fetching raw materials form afar, which were processed and then sent elsewhere in the same way. The sugar refinery at Brazey-en-Plaine processed sugar beet from the whole region. A weighing machine at the port of Vandenesse-en-Auxois (several dozen kilometres upstream) would weigh the production before it was loaded onto barges.

It is difficult today to imagine all the hustle and bustle.

When the major road and rail links were built, the flame of industrial activity on the canal was extinguished. Fortunately, the leisure sector then took over.


The Burgundy Sugar Refinery has become a malthouse; you can see its silos. As for the baker’s yeast factory, that is now a car breaker’s yard. On the right bank, the weaving factory has been replaced by metal-working companies.

In 1960 Léa meets the factory chimney

Oh, young lady, I am so lucky to still be standing, you know! I was born in the nineteenth century along with the blast furnace built by the Philippon brothers, and I’ve always got rid of the fumes from all the various factories that have been on this site one after the other. After the original forges, Joseph Magnin established a sugar refinery, then there was a distillery that was in operation until 1935, then it was the turn of a factory that made baker’s yeast! In 1912, Edgard Boituzet, a landowner in Brazey, founded the ‘Burgundy Sugar Refinery’ and he brought a sugar manufacturer, Auguste Lanvin, from the north of France. Lanvin became a chocolate-maker in Dijon and invented the delicious ‘Escargot de Bourgogne’! And so Brazey sugar became a famous chocolate treat! That’s a nice story, isn’t it? Brazey has always been a busy place, but as a chimney, I am now enjoying a well-deserved retirement!

Cruises on the Saône strating from Saint-Jean-de-Losne

How about a boat trip from Saint-Jean-de-Losne, one of several from the foremost river tourism port in France offering guided cruises on the Saône? These give an excellent opportunity to enjoy both the landscape and the cuisine of Burgundy and to learn more about the Saône, its history and the people whose life and work depend on it.

Magnin Park and thecastle of Brazey-en-Plaine

Around Magnin Castle, now the property of the local area, stretches a magnificent English-style park. Natural and wild, with winding paths, an intimate atmosphere, an island of love and some remarkable trees, this park is a constant delight requiring continuous maintenance! A tree market and plant fair is held on the third weekend of October, all around the great lawn. This event helps contribute to the planting of rare trees.

The eco-paddlers of Saint-Jean-de-Losne

On board a canoe/kayak, we set off for a good two-hour trip. Along the way, we admire the landscape, of course, spotting the signposts with questions about the fauna, flora and nature. It’s a lovely way to paddle your canoe and find out things at the same time! Of course, you must be able to swim, paddle in groups of two and be over 6 years old!


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!