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 defies gravity

The lock enables the canal to climb slopes and allows boats to move from one basin to another.

This group of constructions includes water crossings, sheds, and lock-keepers’ houses.

The lock-keeper’s house is the most imposing building

The canal has guardhouses and tax offices, originally used to provide security and the smooth running of the canal, but the best known buildings are the lock-keepers’ houses where the lock-keepers lived.

At least 5 types of houses can be identified, named after the engineers who designed them. The first wave of construction occurred at the end of the eighteenth century.

the Forey type are located between Dijon and Saint-Jean-de-Losne

the Montfeu type are located between Migennes and Saint-Florentin

The second wave of construction, from 1811, introduced a new model, the Foucherot type, widely used on the banks of the Saône.

The Foucherot houses were very popular because they were economical, easy to build and to enlarge, but the Montfeu houses were both utilitarian and decorative.

In 1811
Léa meets a Montfeu house

Good morning, young lady! I take my name from the engineer Ulriot de Montfeu, who was responsible for designing the canal during the Revolution. He designed me in the best of taste! Look at my fine architecture! You will notice straightaway the contrast between stone
and brick. And my bull’s eye window is very decorative. In fact, everything about my construction has been thought out with great care. At first sight you might think I was a toll-house, but I prefer to compare myself with the buildings on great estates, such as castle dairies or the mill in the Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles. I should mention that every one of the 189 lock-keeper’s houses on the canal is in a different style.
They each have their charm, but we Montfeu houses are the only ones that stand out for our practical and decorative style. What do you think, young lady?

The perched Theatre at Brienon-sur-Armançon

Built in the rafters of the town hall, this theatre is unique for its symbolic paintings and has exceptional acoustics. It was created in 1836 and closed in 1916 when it became an attic and was soon forgotten, except in the memory of the older locals. In 2009, it was restored and reborn with an annual cultural programme.

The oil mill at Brienon-sur-Armançon

Joseph Marie Charoton created the oil mill in 1809. At that time, the mill was worked by a horse. Walnuts were crushed, cooked, and pressed in a ‘hand-tightened’ press like the old wine and cider presses. Now the workshop reconstructs the atmosphere of the old days, thanks to a hundred-year-old piece of machinery. Visiting the oil mill plunges you into a friendly ambience where you can find out about an ancient skill and the virtues of walnuts, rapeseed, sunflower, linseed, hazelnut and mustard!

The big laundry at Brienon-sur-Armançon

This is one of the nicest laundries in France, if not the very best! Built before the Revolution, it has a delightful circular shape and a covered gallery of Burgundy tiles. It presents a perfect harmony of shapes, colours and materials. In 1769, the villagers were responsible for maintaining it. They had to remove the straw and manure, clean the steps and chase away the water rats that stole the washerwomen’s soap. Now it simply enjoys the admiring gaze of visitors!


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!